Our Presence is Required
By Mary Cook, M.A., R.A.S. Trauma and addiction teach us defensiveness, despair, distraction, fear, neediness and offensiveness. Rather than paying attention to our current circumstances, we’re running away from or chasing after something to relieve pain. Rather than noticing who we are in the moment, we are repeatedly seeking ways to artificially alter, numb or heighten who we see ourselves to be. Abstaining from active addiction and living without current trauma does not stop the mental, emotional and physical habit patterns from the past. We continue to carry fear and false beliefs and their corresponding defense mechanisms and character defects, into our current circumstances and future probabilities, until we heal. In our struggles with problems and our quests for answers, our energy is often scattered. Our minds can get very busy with possibilities, scenarios, fears and wishes. Many times our minds multiply problems rather than solve them, or create solutions that are worse than the original problem.
Past physical violations and abuse commonly lead to psychological disconnection or disassociation with our bodies. Symptoms from these defenses include presenting the body as an object to be used, neglect of the body, re-enactment of abuse, fear, shame and hatred of the body, and unhealthy measures to protect and obtain control over the body, the latter often seen in various eating disorders.
Mental and emotional trauma typically results in denial and repression of painful thoughts, feelings and memories. This then leads to chronic feelings of confusion, anxiety, depression, fear and anger, as well as emotional constriction, rigid thinking and intellectualization. Intuition, discernment and even common sense can be deficient, causing significant instability.
Trauma symptoms additionally interfere with what we have to give to others. We are afraid to be fully present to anything that reminds us of what we have not healed. Yet we unconsciously attract these very experiences, because we hold their energies within us, and because life gives us endless opportunities to heal. Until we decide to do so, we respond to others defensively and offensively when some part of them or what they do, say or feel, reminds us of our pain. Therefore, what we have to give to others is an incomplete and distorted version of who we truly are. And how we perceive them is incomplete and distorted as well.
Understandably we don’t wish to feel pain, powerlessness and emptiness. Yet, when we are living in safe, sane and sober conditions, resistance to these emotions increases our problems and stress. Paying attention to each present moment as it appears and disappears, and becoming more aware of the observer part of ourselves that doesn’t think or act, and is not attached to human willfulness, brings a spiritual perspective to learning and maturing. Facing and processing emotions and experiences from the past, with healthy support people, and the goal of insight and healing, brings us positive energy. This enables us to increasingly release the energy from past trauma and addiction and find our true selves.