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My Trauma Story: Integration v Shame

In case you missed it or aren’t on our Facebook page, I posted a video yesterday about my own trauma story (see below). Actually, just one piece of the story that came back to me after 20 years. I was inspired because many survivors of trauma who I meet are still carrying around feelings of shame. Which is understandable, since shock and trauma can leave us disoriented, frozen, fearful, and ashamed. But I believe in the power of story to help us ‘heal the freeze’ and to inspire others (or at least normalise suffering).

It was a scary thing to do. It left me feeling vulnerable. And that is okay, because I am practised in feeling vulnerable and have spent years growing my capacity for vulnerability. “Feel the fear and do it anyway” is a favourite motto of mine.

I want to integrate or incorporate everything into my being, into my story, so I can live an undefended life. I don’t mean physically undefended, I mean psychologically. Sometimes of course, I don’t recognise my own defences until afterwards. So I want to acknowledge but then side-step my defensiveness. It’s hard, because defence mechanisms are survival-oriented, automatic and powerful.

Integration is key. I touch on this in the video below. Integration (in psychology) means creating links between different parts of yourself: the defensive part, the vulnerable part, the logical part and the compassionate part. This takes self-awareness, which means identifying thoughts, feelings and behaviours and linking it all together. You literally make linkages across different regions of your brain the more self-aware you become. The more integrated you become, the less you are controlled by fear and shame.

People often say “be yourself”. What does that mean? To me, it’s who you are when your psychological defences are down. Potentially scary? Sure. But ah…the freedom!

And, well, nothing bad has happened since I posted this. And I’m learning continually, as are all of you, to trust myself and to trust in life more and more. Every small brave step along the way helps. Here it is (about 8 mins). If you’d like to leave a comment on the FB video, you can click the FB icon on the bottom right.

We are all in this together 🙂

Rachel

So. This is quite scary for me, sharing my own trauma story. This is a hard time of year for me, personally. But I want to normalise pain, traumatic stress and vulnerability. Why are we so ashamed of our vulnerability in this culture? So scared of pain? I hope my words touch or inspire somebody somewhere. #psychologistsarehumantoo #metoo

Posted by North Brisbane Psychologists on Thursday, 26 July 2018

 

 

6 thoughts on “My Trauma Story: Integration v Shame

  1. Thank you so much Rachel for your courage and generosity in sharing your with us – very inspiring. I love the concept of moving towards a psychologically ‘undefended life’ – disintegrating fear and shame using one’s self-awareness in integrating the different parts of oneself that have evolved through one’s story! Best wishes…

  2. Thank you Rachel, for demonstrating strength by sharing your trauma so openly. I was very moved and intrigued by the paradox of empowerment you speak of in owning one’s (vulnerable) story. As I also live today with trauma from my past, struggling to accept it as a part of my life without it further impacting negatively upon my life, I found your post to be insightful, compassionate, and most importantly, hopeful. Thank you.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment! Yes, it is a paradox. Any form of denial keeps us controlled by the thing we deny. Accepting or owning it frees us from that and once we are free, we no longer identify with the inner narratives that the trauma has left us with. We can see clearly and incorporate everything into our Lives 🙂 Thanks again.

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