This is info that I really relate to and Pete Walker’s info – often based on John Briere’s work – always resonates with me. I think Pete walker having been a complex trauma survivor himself, shows in his expression of how painful symptoms feel.
The role of grieving in treating childhood trauma and Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
Insight, as crucially important as it is, is never enough in recovery. No amount of intention or epiphany can bypass one’s need to learn to lovingly care for himself when he is suffering from the emotional flashbacks of C-PTSD.
Emotional flashbacks are regressions that take the survivor back to the excruciating states of fear, humiliation, abandonment, helplessness and hopelessness that he nearly drowned in during childhood. Grieving is an irreplaceable tool for metabolizing and resolving the overwhelming feelings that arise during emotional flashbacks.
Grieving aids the survivor immeasurably to work through the innumerable death-like experiences of being lost and trapped in emotional flashbacks. Grieving also supports recovery from the many painful, death-like losses caused by childhood traumatization. Recoverees need to grieve the death of safety and belonging in their own childhoods – the death of their early attachment needs. They need to mourn the myriad heartbreaks of their frustrated attempts to win approval and affection from their parents.
As the grieving process therapeutically evolves, survivors typically uncover a great deal of unresolved grief about the deadening absence of the nurturance they needed to develop and thrive. Children will only flourish if the following types of needs are consistently met: 1. Physical needs for affection and protection; 2. Emotional needs for caring, regard and interest; 3. Spiritual needs for recognition of their worth and basic goodness; 4. Verbal needs for welcoming inquiry, positive feedback, and multidimensional conversation.
It is difficult to become motivated to grieve losses that occurred so long ago. Many of these losses seem so nebulous that trying to embrace grieving is a bit like trying to embrace dental work. Who wants to go to the dentist? But who doesn’t go once the toothache becomes acute. Soul ache is considerably harder to assign to the losses of childhood, yet those who take the grieving journey described below come to know unquestionably that the core of their soul ache and psychological suffering is in the unworked through losses of growing up with abandoning parents.
These losses must be grieved until the individual really get that her parents were not her allies. She needs to grieve until she stops blaming herself for their abuse and/or neglect…until she fully realizes that their execrable parenting caused her posttraumatic stress. She needs to grieve
until she understands how her learned habit of automatic self-abandonment is a re-enactment of their abject failure to be there for her.
Mourning these awful realities can then empower her efforts to develop a multidimensional practice of self-care. As she grieves more efficaciously, her capacity for self-compassion and self-protection grows, and her psyche becomes increasingly user friendly.