Today I finally joined another day of training by CELEVT where I following the course in treatment of early childhood trauma.
This time the subject completely dedicated to Complex Trauma, which almost always originated in youth.
To illustrate the miserable conditions under which children are exposed, the teacher (Martijn Stöfsel) showed this impressive short movie.
In this movie you can clearly see how one traumatic event is followed by the next. How this forms the cognitions of a child and how difficult it becomes to trust the other as a matter of course. Unfortunately for some of us this is the unavoidable reality.
An important (as yet unknown to me) term was introduced here that touched me: epistemic trust.
This is the self-evident trust you have in your friends, family, acquaintances, etc., no matter what they do or say. By looking through the glasses of trust, you always give them the positive benefit of the doubt if they behave differently than normal. For many people this is normal and they are not even aware of it. However, for those people who have experienced much insecurity in their youth, this epistemic trust is not so obvious at all.
So it may be that when your partner or someone close to you does something unexpected, you give him or her the disadvantage of the doubt.
A traumatized brain is a suspicious brain.
If your partner or someone close to you suffers from childhood trauma, know that he or she needs much more reassurance than anyone else.
Problems in relationships often arise when this is not seen. Instead of reassuring, the other person is ignored, or seen as an adopter.
As a result, the trauma is reconfirmed every time. I see this so often in people who suffer the consequences of complex traumatization. They suffer from the incomprehension of their surroundings and are confirmed every time that something is really wrong with them. The only thing they can do is try to hide their suffering behind coping strategies such as jolting, grunting, withdrawing, excusing, pretending to be bigger, etc. But behind this, their suffering falls deeper and deeper into the loneliness of silent suffering.
If you feel well, you can feel this suffering behind the coping. Usually you feel this as an effect on yourself, and the trick is to keep up with it with compassion, instead of trying to avoid it. Then you succeed in acknowledging the other person’s suffering on a deep level that makes this person feel, perhaps for the very first time, seen and heard. This can be the first step in building epistemic trust for this person.
Let this be a new step for us in tolerance, loving kindness and compassion.
Because that is exactly what is needed right now.