• Dr Graham Stevenson

How to Take Control of Your Trauma



The definition of trauma is being out of control when an episode of our past is relived in the present without our permission. Whilst there is a process to dealing with trauma, the feeling of having some control is very important. Having a framework in which to see where you are and where you are going, can help to feel more in control of your trauma, enabling you to make a choice.

I know someone who makes Victorian doll houses. The whole front opens out to show all the different rooms where the life of a family gets lived out, each with its furniture, windows and doors.

Imagine your life like a Victorian house, each room an aspect of your being. Like every good home, you have a solid secure front door where you can decide who comes in and who stays out on the porch. Once inside, you can decide which rooms to entertain them in.

Maybe, your relationship starts in the sitting room or the kitchen, and then you eat together in the dining room. Perhaps, your relationship progresses to the music room and eventually to the bedroom. The walls of each room are hung with the memories of life in that room.

Sometimes, you let someone in who doesn’t behave well. You may have let them in or somehow, they were already inside from the beginning. They don’t respect your property but treat it as their own, trashing it, abusing it and not putting things right. Trauma can be a one-off event like a burglary or a slow and steady build-up of abuse with a housemate that gets to a tipping point.

Often, the experience is so bad that we just lock the room and don’t go there anymore. We don’t want to look at the pictures of bad memories on the walls. We don’t want to relive the trauma. It’s easier to simplify life down to living in the rest of the house. However, it does have an effect knowing that there’s one room permanently locked with a nasty secret inside.

The traumatic experience destroys our confidence, and we look suspiciously at anyone knocking on the door. If that person seems to have access to the house and continues to trash the place, more and more rooms get locked up until we don’t know where we live any more.

It’s safer to live outside than be on the inside where life gets turned upside down. As we lock the door on each traumatic room we progressively become dispossessed. Then, when someone comes knocking on the front door, it’s as if there’s no-one at home.

Trauma therapy is about taking someone’s hand and leading them back home.

Of course, you need to trust the therapist and that if you let them inside, they will respect you and your property. It’s often a very scary journey, especially if you haven’t been home in a long time. It takes courage to face your trauma, step back into your life and reclaim it. The bedrock on which you stand is the hope of what life can be and that you have a right to be in your own home.

The first step of taking control of your trauma will be stepping through the front door and into the living rooms. The process is about settling down and getting used to being there again. Living happily and replacing the pictures on the walls. Room by room you will reclaim the whole property. It will be about courageously cleaning out the cobwebs of shame and the dust of guilt. It will be about letting the light in and rehanging the walls with happy memories for others to share.

In time, you will have your property back in your own hands. You will have rebuilt the confidence to be able to look every stranger in the eye and decide who you will let in the front door and who you will keep out. Your life will be yours again. You will have fully taken back control from the trauma.

I help clients to face up to and process their trauma at their own pace. If you would like to discuss how I can help you begin to take control of your trauma, call me today on 07933 709 169.

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© 2020 by Dr Graham Stevenson