Trauma and Self Esteem

Women are extremely resilient.  They can weather emotional pain and grow stronger from it. They can experience trauma and find that they must work harder to work through the issues but as a result they have gained lifelong coping skills. Divorce, abandonment, rejection, severe criticism or abuse is trauma that many children have overcome.  However, sometimes the person experiences several traumas and the person does not recover. When this occurs, it can impair a person’s ability to function.  I have coined this phenomenon: having a “wounded soul.” 

When a person’s soul is wounded, They are kept locked in a holding pattern.  If a person cannot overcome his trials and tribulations, he suffers debilitating effects.  Although he may look successful, he is hiding a dark secret inside.  Not only does he feel inadequate, but he is also unable to maintain healthy relationships because of past wounds.  

People who have this condition are unable to fully give or receive from another human being.  It prevents them from having intimate relationships.  They report that there is a hole inside of them that is insatiable.  They may derive pleasure from certain activities or hobbies, but any joy they derive is short-lived.  They typically cannot recall positive memories of their childhood. People who have experienced a wounded soul describe not feeling like they measure up, even when they have accomplished great achievements.  People with this condition don’t see their potential. 
 As you might imagine, people who have experienced early childhood trauma has learned that life is too painful, so they have withdrawn from relationships to avoid being hurt which insulates and protects them from further injury. They have given up emotionally. They are unable to achieve intimacy because they turned off the switch to human emotion long ago.  Their ability to disassociate becomes so natural that they become performers or actors not allowing feelings to work into the equation. They may not have a conscience awareness that they have given up on others, let alone themselves.

 Sometimes they become overly critical to keep others from getting too close.  They are at high risk for alcoholism and drug addiction.  They may spend their whole life self-medicating the pain.  Some have learned to channel their loneliness in socially acceptable ways like working excessively or climbing the corporate ladder.  They may seek external means to feel good, but nothing fills the hole that the childhood trauma has created.

If you love someone who meets these criteria, you must realize there is nothing you can say or do that will compensate for the previous pain.  You will need to find healthier people to draw from emotionally as your loved one has very little to give you emotionally.  

If you believe that you might suffer from this condition, you need to run (not walk) to the nearest counseling agency and be ready to do some intensive psychotherapy.  Although your prognosis is guarded, you can overcome your past if you are ready to do the work, feel the pain, move beyond it, and trust again.  You did the best you could with what life dealt you and now as an adult it is up to you to change your course and find the joy in human connection. You mastered the art of disconnecting to avoid being repeatedly hurt. It served you well as a child but now it requires that you find the right tools to take life to the next level. Intimacy is part of that human connection!