Trauma can mean many things. It can result from physical, emotional or sexual abuse. It can be a consequence of medical procedures which impact the body, mind, heart and spirit. It can be a response to not being understood or valued by parents who were preoccupied with their own work, depression or alcoholism.
Trauma is an experience of overstimulation, mild or extreme, acute or chronic, which causes our system to be more reactive than usual. It can show itself as numbness, self-doubt, feelings of anxiety or anger, lack of control or controlling behavior, or in many other ways.
It's important to realize that trauma is rooted in the social realities of our lives, including sexism, racism, poverty, homophobia, war, immigration and other social conditions which permeate our lives and so deeply impact our ability to develop healthfully.
These socio/cultural traumas also account for inadequacies in the parenting we received. We may find forgiveness for, and peace about those failures through understanding the social circumstances that our caregivers suffered under.
Most traumas, including patterns which constellate into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, are generally very treatable in therapy. Traumatic experiences can be recognized, understood and transformed into more benign memories which are better integrated and managed in our lives.
"Trauma is treatable. It makes sense to me. We do what we need to survive, creatively using whatever tools we have. Therapy refines our survival skills to work better for us."
--Margie Cohen, LCSW