Thoughts on Complex Trauma

A recent late night conversation about complex trauma with a close friend went something like this:

Her: Sometimes I feel traumatised and I just don’t get how or why.

Me: I think it’s all complex trauma? It’s so much more intangible.

Her: I literally question whether I was abused when I was really young or something but I’m sure I wasn’t..

Me: Yeah I’ve heard people say that they wish something very tangibly and objectively “bad” had happened that could explain or justify how they feel in the present. But apparently complex trauma is like the hardest to treat, and part of why that is is because it’s so layered and subconscious. And because it’s less tangible, we blame ourselves and invalidate our experiences even more..

Her: Yup. I always want SOMETHING to make the way I feel ‘valid’. But it IS valid.

Me: It is. Like, our current emotional experiences aren’t that way for no reason. We have to remember that. It is all understandable based on our pasts. And our pasts have been frikkin painful.

Her: Yeah we wouldn’t feel this way without a reason. Even if we can’t put it into words. And experiences are also relative..

Me: Exactly! And you know the definition of trauma is so subjective. It makes so much sense. (As in, trauma in itself is defined as a SUBJECTIVE experience.)

Her: I so see that. Guess it goes back to not what happens to you but how you experience it.

Me: What one person finds traumatising may feel negligible to another. Crazy right ?

Her: It is. But makes so much sense.

Me: And because I am so sensitive and so AFFECTED by life I almost feel like some things have been like trauma on top of trauma on top of trauma. Especially relational things. If that makes any sense.

Her: Like trauma because you’re already traumatised.

Me: Yes! And it wouldn’t feel traumatising if not for the original experience etc. But each new experience just reinforces the original one/s. Like with rejectiony stuff, for example.

Her: Exactly. I wouldn’t have found what happened with xxxxx traumatising if I hadn’t already felt traumatised about parent figures or abandonment or WHATEVER it was that traumatised me in the first place.

Overall I am just feeling very relationally traumatised at the moment. It is seeping into every aspect of my life and really impacting me and most likely those around me, too. I feel like this journey is going to take me a life time. Complex trauma really is very complex.


4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Complex Trauma

  1. I found this so useful – my daughter has complex PTSD and it often is hard to make sense of what triggers her. She has no historical major traumas, we’ve been a stable loving family trying to do our best. So it’s all very confusing from the outside, and this helps me see how confusing it must be from the inside too. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing. I think for some people like myself (and perhaps your daughter) who feels things so acutely, life can feel pretty traumatising, regardless of how it looks objectively. From the outside my life may look okay, but I feel extremely traumatised on the inside. All the best to you and your daughter also…


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