Trauma has a way of making survivors feel completely, utterly alone. Those who haven’t lived your experiences cannot begin to understand the ripple effect they’ve had on your life or your mental health. In navigating your trauma, you may find you have a hard time trusting or opening up to partners, friends, or family members, or that certain things cause extreme reactions you weren’t expecting. What can make this isolation even more extreme is when you feel you have explained your trauma, and loved ones can’t or don’t want to understand. Understanding trauma is not an easy or quick process for some, but I am here to walk with you as you build more supportive relationships.
Is it Clear That Your Partner or Loved One Doesn’t Want to Understand Your Trauma?
Understanding trauma begins with the desire to listen. While you could try forever to make someone understand what you’ve been through and how they can support you, the hard truth is that some people don’t want to understand. Someone worth continuing your relationship with will:
- Listen to you without interrupting
- Ask questions and engage when you are explaining yourself
- Show compassion and empathy
- Not push boundaries you have set with them
- Seek out information to better understand your perspective
- Never use language that blames or shames you for your trauma
Communicate Your Needs & Feelings
Communication is a key component of any relationship, but particularly when you’ve been through struggles that the other person has not. It can make you feel vulnerable or even embarrassed. But when you speak your truth, others can begin to understand your trauma, and how they can support you. Explain your triggers, signs that you are experiencing difficulty, and specific ways they can help. For example, if someone hugging you a certain way makes you feel uncomfortable and brings on flashbacks, tell them to avoid it. Of course, this also requires that you do your own searching to learn more about what specifically makes you uncomfortable, and other ways trauma shows up in your life, including in relationships.
Educate Them About Trauma
If your partner, friend, or family member doesn’t understand trauma, it’s not necessarily their fault. Many people don’t understand the full extent of trauma and its effects on a person’s mental and emotional well-being. You can help your partner or loved ones understand by educating them about trauma. This might include sharing articles, books, or Youtube videos that explain the science behind trauma and how it affects people.
It’s also important to note that trauma is a deeply personal experience, and everyone’s reactions and coping mechanisms are different. Even if your partner or loved ones have experienced trauma themselves, it’s possible they don’t fully understand or relate to your experiences.
In order for you to more fully understand and work through your trauma so you can then educate others in your life, it is important to seek professional care with a therapist. As a trauma therapist, I specialize in helping women overcome painful past experiences, stress, anxiety, and depression, so they can pursue fulfilling lives and relationships.
Seek Support Elsewhere
Even if your family member, friend, or partner is working on understanding your trauma, it’s not healthy for them to be your only source of support. Cultivate a support system of various safe people, coping skills you can do by yourself, and self-care practices that keep you feeling uplifted and positive. I am here to listen, help guide your healing, and develop a plan for creating the life you desire. Let’s get started.
Learn more about Kirstin and her passion for helping women in California here.