When Trauma Returns

Trauma is a shadow that sometimes lingers, reappearing in our lives unexpectedly. But what’s surprising is how it rarely returns as a vivid memory. Instead, it shows up in our reactions – those emotional, physical, or behavioral responses that can feel unrelated to the past event. After working with thousands of clients over the past 25 years, this is what predominately presents as one of the complex aspect of trauma.

Trauma doesn’t follow a straight line. It’s not a simple memory that we can neatly recall. It’s more like a silent guest that visits uninvited. It often resurfaces as a lack of trust, panic attacks and emotional outbursts, making us wonder why we’re feeling so intensely in situations that seem safe.

Emotional flashbacks are sometimes a companions, but not always. They and be like old echoes that resound loudly in the present. For many, it can be moments of overwhelming fear or anger triggered by something that remotely resembles past pain, or in many cases people are totally unaware of the initial cause, as the subconscious mind often blocks this in an attempt to protect us.

Physical sensations often also come into play. The body stores trauma and when it’s awakened, it can react with tension, headaches, or stomachaches, sweating, nausea and pain. Almost all physical illness has an original emotional cause, according to many authors and metaphysicians. It’s bewildering when these symptoms arise seemingly out of nowhere, but the subconscious mind always wants us to heal.

People also develop behaviours in order to distract or cope. They often find themselves withdrawing emotionally or turning into people pleasers to protect themselves. This affects relationships and the our well-being. Many people also distract with sabotaging habits such as smoking, overeating, drinking, shopping, gambling, cleaning, becoming a workaholic or other addictive behaviours.

Triggers and associations play a huge role. Innocent things – a scent, a sound, a place – can stir powerful emotions. The brain forms these connections between triggers and trauma, leading to involuntary reactions.

Understanding that trauma doesn’t always return as memories but as reactions has been a vital part of the healing journey for most of my clients. Hypnotherapy and support systems have helped them identify triggers and develop healthier coping mechanisms, and get over the trauma for good, to be able to move forward and leave the past behind. We also need to be patient and compassionate with ourselves, recognising that healing is a nonlinear process for many.

Trauma is a deeply personal journey for everyone, and it often resurfaces as reactions, not just memories. Healing is possible, even when the path seems uncertain. You’re not alone in this journey, and there’s support available when you’re ready to seek it.

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