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Why Trauma Resurfaces Just as You’re Feeling Better

After a period of devastation, loss, despair–a traumatic experience–as time passes, you may begin to feel better, safer in your own skin. You may even sense that you have grown stronger as the distance between where you are now and the painful experiences you have lived through continues to widen. During times when you feel okay, you may actually be able to allow yourself to relax into certain situations. You might even start to feel that your self-confidence is growing.

Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, your brain carries you back to a time in your history that evokes great shame and feels painfully unresolved. The images that flash through your mind cause a visceral reaction. Inside, you now feel destabilized, which pollutes the positive experience you were just having.

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Revisiting trauma in the wake of a tumultuous relationship

Deb Stgo/Flickr

Deb Stgo/Flickr

When you’ve had a stormy relationship that’s ended, one of the most tormenting aspects of its aftermath is that you can think you’re ok, you ‘re feeling stable, but then you plunge right back into confusion, disgust, and fear all over again. Chances are the more tumultuous the relationship was, the more tumultuous your response to breakup will be. Why? Because when you’re in a tumultuous relationship, your brain is in a perpetually heightened state of intensity. This could mean that when the breakup first occurred, you might have gone through periods of relief and calmness. However, now you begin to realize just how traumatized you were and still are. The trigger for that realization could be something you are aware of, or something you’re not. Your discomfort might have started right away, immediately post-breakup, or a year from now. No matter when, it won’t be denied.

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