4 Practical Techniques to Heal from Childhood Trauma

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4 Practical Techniques to Heal from Childhood Trauma

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“It is important for people to know that no matter what lies in their past, they can overcome the dark side and press on to a brighter world.” ~Dave Pelzer, A Child Called “It”

I grew up in the shadow of my pathologically narcissistic father. From a very young age, my role in the family was that of the scapegoat, a role that poisoned my entire childhood. I lived in a constant state of fear, shame, and self-doubt, always trying to please my father and earn his love and approval.

But as I grew older and began to understand the true nature of my father’s behavior, I realized that his love was never something I could earn or deserve. It was simply not within my control. And so I made the conscious decision to release myself from the burden of trying to gain his love.

Letting go of this childhood trauma was not easy. It took time, and notwithstanding the fact that I am now well into middle age, there are still days when I feel the weight of my past on my shoulders. But as I began to peel away the layers of hurt and pain, I also discovered a newfound sense of freedom and self-acceptance.

By acknowledging my past experiences and their impact on my life, I was able to take control and make positive changes. I learned to use my voice, set boundaries, and prioritize my own well-being. And in doing so, I found that the more I released myself from the hold of my childhood trauma, the more empowered and hopeful I became.

Letting go of childhood trauma does not mean forgetting or denying what happened. It means accepting it, learning from it, and using it as fuel for growth and healing. It also means embracing vulnerability and allowing ourselves to feel and process our emotions.

The Dysfunctional Dynamics of a Narcissistic Family

In the cast of characters within my family, each of us played a specific role in my father’s drama, almost as if we were following a script.

My father, the puppet master, was the archetypal narcissist, continually seeking admiration while lacking empathy for others, making family life a perpetual performance.

My mother played the part of the enabler, softening and justifying my father’s actions, her support acting as the grease that allowed the machinery of his narcissism to run smoothly.

My brother, the golden child, lived in the glow of my father’s approval, unwittingly being shaped into a younger version of the man who was destroying him.

And then there was me, the scapegoat, taking on all of my father’s projected anger and shame, often being punished for things I didn’t even do.

Understanding these roles has been a painful yet illuminating part of my journey. This insight is a bittersweet liberation, lifting some of the burdens that I’ve carried for so long—and with each step in awareness, I’m crafting a new life narrative, built not on the foundations of trauma but on hope and self-compassion.

The Importance of Letting Go

For the longest time, I clung to my past, believing that the pain I refused to shed was somehow integral to my identity. Yet, the power I gave to those memories only helped them grow roots in the present.

In the end, it took a total mental breakdown to shake me out of this mindset, ironically triggered by an act of total altruism by my oldest and closest friend. She fostered a little girl, and when I met her I was catapulted back to my own childhood and all the pain and fear it entailed.

It was like opening Pandora’s box, but instead of the evils of the world flying out, they pulled me in and closed the lid behind me.

But it was in this dark place that I finally found the strength to let go. I couldn’t keep living a life where my past weighed so heavily on my present. I was no longer a child, bound by my father’s whims and expectations. I had the power to break free from that cycle of trauma—but this required me to release the past.

The Healing Process Through Release and Forgiveness

Healing from my childhood trauma was not just about shutting the door on my past experiences, but rather understanding and empathizing with the self that had to endure them.

Forgiveness, I learned, isn’t about absolving others of consequence. It’s about forgiving myself for all the things that I did to cope with my pain.

Through therapy and self-reflection, I slowly released the anger and hurt that had consumed me for so long. And as I did so, I was able to replace it with a sense of peace and self-acceptance. It’s an ongoing process, but one that has brought immense healing and growth into my life.

Practical Techniques for Letting Go

The path to release is different for everyone, and there is no one right way to let go of childhood trauma. However, there are common threads that tie the experiences of many trauma survivors in their quest for freedom from the past.

Therapy and Counseling Options

Seeking professional help was a pivotal step in my personal growth. It took a while for me to find the right therapist – someone with whom I felt comfortable discussing my most painful memories. But when I did, it was a game-changer.

Therapy gave me the tools to process my emotions and memories in a healthy way, allowing me to gradually let go of the hold they had on me. It also provided a safe space for me to explore and understand the dysfunctional dynamics within my family.

I had to face the fact that some of the behaviors that I had adopted as a child as a means of survival were no longer serving me in the present. With the help of my therapist, I was able to challenge these beliefs and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

For example, as a kid I learned to overachieve in an attempt to prove that I was more than the nothing my father insisted I was. Therapy helped me understand that I didn’t need to prove my worth through accomplishments. I now practice embracing my imperfection and loving myself regardless of what I achieve.

Self-Care Practices

Taking care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally has also been crucial in my healing journey. This includes regular exercise, eating well, getting enough rest, and setting healthy boundaries with others.

But self-care also means allowing myself to feel and process my emotions, without judgment or shame. It means practicing self-compassion and being gentle with myself as I work through the trauma.

Journaling and Creative Outlets

Journaling became my confidante. The act of writing was a release valve for my emotions, allowing the chaos within me to take shape and form on the page. I also started a blog, which helped me connect with many people who had gone through similar experiences. For the first time, I did not feel alone.

The Gift of Gratitude

I have now come a very long way. I no longer see myself as a victim, a damaged person constantly trying to convince others, and herself, that she is worthy of love. My family of birth had not nurtured me, but somehow, along the way, I met people who were not related to me by blood but who held out their hand and helped me pull myself out of the hole I had almost been buried in.

These people finally offered the validation and affection that I had always longed for, and I learned that family is more than a biological fact. It is a spiritual and emotional bond that is chosen and nurtured.

I learned that healing is best not done in isolation, but within a community. Reflecting on the love and support they’ve given me, I feel a profound sense of gratitude that fills me with hope and gives strength to my journey.

Conclusion

If you stand where I once stood, weighed down by the chains of your past, I offer you one simple truth: release is not the end, but a beginning. It is a step into the unknown, where the freedom to redefine yourself lies in the courage to shed the familiar, even when it’s painful.

I encourage you, fellow survivor, to take that step, to release and heal, and to discover the world that waits beyond the walls of trauma. It is a world of limitless potential, a life in full color, where the past is not a prison, but a whisper, and you hold the pen to write your own story.

**Image generated by AI



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