When trauma surfaced, it meant it was time to learn more about yourself and grow as a person. When trauma comes to the surface, it may indicate that you now need to heal on a deeper level. Incredibly, a sudden resurgence of an old relationship often indicates that you are ready to heal on a deeper level.
As you go through this stage of the healing process, you may find yourself caught up in emotions for a while. When fear, anger, sadness, helplessness, longing—all emotions that may have been too painful, too difficult, or just “too strong” right after the injury—suddenly resurface, your new challenge is to sit with those emotions and let them have their say. Reassure yourself that these seemingly new emotions are a normal part of the trauma recovery process and that they won't stay forever.
If you've dealt with fear by hiding the fear deep within yourself and never letting it out, you may be shocked when these feelings spontaneously surface. Being in a place similar to your repressed childhood memories can trigger this fear deep inside you and put you into fight or flight mode. As an adult, you may not find yourself in these scary situations anymore, but you can still feel like you've returned to your childhood.
Some stressful experiences, such as chronic childhood abuse, are so overwhelming and traumatic that memories hide in the brain like a shadow. The brain sometimes hides particularly stressful, traumatic, or fear-related memories.
When the brain creates memories in a certain mood or state, especially about stress or trauma, those memories become inaccessible in normal states of consciousness. Suppressed memories are best recovered when the brain returns to that state. Research has shown that the best way to access memories in this system is to restore the brain to the same state of consciousness that the memory encodes.
Memories are typically stored in the brain's distributed network, including the cortex, and thus can be easily accessed to consciously remember an event. Therefore, when the brain returns to that state, it is best to retrieve memories formed during a particularly emotional, arousal, or drug-induced state. If a traumatic event occurs when these receptors are activated in the brain, the memory cannot be accessed until these same receptors are activated again.
The findings show that in response to traumatic stress, some people, instead of activating the glutamate system to store memories, activate the extrasynaptic GABA system and form inaccessible traumatic memories. The findings suggest that in the face of traumatic stress, the brain may activate another system to form and suppress memories. Trauma therapists say early childhood abuse can affect the central nervous system, causing children to separate painful memories from awareness.
Some clinicians suggest that children understand and respond to trauma differently than adults. Some experts believe that children who have experienced abuse or other trauma may not be able to create or access memories in the usual way. They have memories of events, but they may not remember them until they are older and better prepared for disasters.
Even though years have passed since the traumatic event, symptoms can occur suddenly or intermittently if the person is exposed to memories of the original event. News articles describing traumatic events can revive symptoms, especially if the stories are similar to your traumatic event. Encouraging people to imagine that they have been traumatized when they do not remember the traumatic event can contribute to the formation of inaccurate memories.
What we know for sure is that both memory researchers and clinicians working with trauma victims agree that both phenomena occur. Both memory and trauma are complex topics that researchers are still working on. Memory and trauma experts can provide some answers, but more research and research is clearly needed. Leading experts in both fields continue to explore the links between the two.
Experts sometimes classify repressed childhood traumatic memories as dissociation. Those with repressed childhood memories may experience more anxiety than others. Some of these symptoms may include nightmares, ruminating about the traumatic event, mild agitation, feelings of anxiety or depression, numbness, and a sense of separation. This means that traumatic events from the past may be happening now, and you may experience certain physical, emotional, and behavioral responses even if they occurred months or years ago.
Repressed memories can come back to you in a variety of ways, including triggers, nightmares, flashbacks, body memories, and somatic/conversion symptoms. In flashbacks, you can completely lose awareness of your surroundings and experience the trauma as if it were happening all over again. Memories and re-experiencing of trauma occur because the amygdala has come into action and the hippocampus has shut down and cannot contextualize the memory at the moment. Having new memories can affect your current state of reality, your relationships, your perception of the world and the people around you, which can take you back to the past and get stuck there, making you feel like you're reliving the trauma again. . . .
Exposure to memories that have been suppressed for years can be a debilitating process in healing trauma. Healing from past trauma requires reworking the feelings that you somehow hid in the box. Your job after the injury and in the following years was to find stability. You return to the original state you were in at the time of the injury and try to protect yourself.
In my experience as a therapist, what happens is that the deep inside of you finally feels safe and stable enough to deal with the residual emotional consequences that they have been patiently waiting for years. Your experience shows that no one in your life has ever paid attention to this 9-year-old child. You may have already experienced trauma on the same level, and when the trauma comes to the surface, it is time to discover your true self and evolve into the next version of yourself.
You may also have thoughts about how the injury has damaged your life. It can also come from your brain trying to deal with the emotional and psychological impact of trauma. This is good because if it appears right away, it can overwhelm your nervous system.