childhood abuse

If you were traumatized by someone, why doesn’t the hurt and anger heal when that person starts treating you better?

A Reader writes:

I was verbally and emotionally abused by my dad from ages 11-20. But since then (I am now 30), his treatment of me has greatly improved. I am forever grateful for his unconditional love in the recent years, and cannot understand why there’s still a traumatized vulnerable child within me that feel tremendous pain, anger, and rage towards him. Why hasn’t this part of me been able to naturally heal from the past 9 year experience?

If traumatized parts form from our experiences, then why can they not also heal from later different experiences?

Dear Reader:

I’m really happy for you that your dad is now giving you unconditional love. That is a great gift that many abuse survivors long for and never receive. And I’m sure it helps a lot in your recovery.

And there is still that child part of you that feels traumatized, vulnerable, hurt, and angry. I’m glad you can feel her in there. That’s very important, that you can feel her.
She is the one who knows the answer to what she needs in order to heal. I don’t know, but I can guess.

Traumatized parts are often frozen in the past. For them, what happened is not over. It is still going on.

We might think it would help to explain to them that the past is over and things are different now. But I have never known that to be effective. They can’t hear us. It’s like they are in another world, and it’s not a very pleasant one.

I believe this child part of you needs for you to have a relationship with her of kindness and compassion. She needs you to hear what she went through. She needs you to say “No wonder!” to her pain, anger and rage.

And do not say “But.” “But now he gives me unconditional love.”

The problem with sentences starting with “but” is that they dismiss everything that came before. If you want someone to feel that you hear and understand them, never say “but”.

Because of your father’s more recent kindness and support, you have become stronger. And you can bring your new strength and compassion to the traumatized child inside you. Thus your father’s change does contribute to the inner child’s healing… just not in the way you expected.

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