Why Guilt and Self-Reproach, as a Result of Child Abuse and Neglect, keeps Resurfacing

Why Guilt and Self-Reproach, as a Result of Child Abuse and Neglect, keeps Resurfacing

You can be your own worst enemy!

Self-judgment is very often present when you suffer from post-traumatic stress symptoms of ptsd, cptsd or child abuse over a long period of time.

Thoughts such as:

  • Why am I not able to get over this?
  • Why do I still get so worked up and angry?
  • Why didn’t I fight or escape the abuse(r) at the time?
  • I feel so stupid for still having these reactions/thoughts/emotions!

Feeling overwhelmed continuously, makes one develop a certain set of coping mechanisms. Guilt and self-reproach being one of them. They prevent and obscure oneself from feeling the underlying core emotion fully, while simultaneously allowing them to persist. That’s the conundrum you find yourself in, which makes it difficult to move away from these coping patterns of self-reproach and self-judgment.

Honoring the Perspective of the inner Child that still suffers Child Abuse

In these situations you need to practice holding a dual state of awareness.

When your post-traumatic disorder symptoms of anxiety, anger or sadness get triggered, there are two perspectives present; your adult self, who feels that the emotional reactions you are having, are out of proportion to the situation you find yourself in, and the association taking place, through older hurts and emotional residue, is still desperately clinging to those parts of the past; your unresolved, vividly emotional childhood memory.

From the perspective of an adult, endowed with more rationality, it is easy to fall into any form of judgment. From a child’s emotional perspective, that hurt that you’re experiencing is viscerally real and the ‘out of proportion’ element is the unresolved emotion from the past, realistically impacting the present.

How to use Dual Awareness in bringing about the Healing of Childhood Trauma and Abuse

Can you hold and give value to both perspectives, the adult and child parts of yourself, equally?

When you hold both parts equally; without further reacting to your pain through self-reproach and judgment, nor getting over focused or sinking into the emotional pain; this is where you start to build up resilience by staying with ‘what is’.

And healing from child abuse and complex trauma is a process. It is firstly, to see it from this healthy dual perspective of awareness, that cancels out further self-judgment and reproach. That in itself, will make the underlying emotion more apparent and available, along with possibly, memories related to your personal experience.

Building up resilience and containment of the deeper, emotional wounds will allow them to be healed

What happened to you cannot be changed, but the emotional investment in the past can still be released, revealed and integrated.

Do you tend to go into guilt or self-reproach when your post-trauma symptoms flare up? Leave your comment below.

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Comments

  1. Susan  March 26, 2017

    My PTSD is due to years of domestic violence/abuse/control…i did walk away 9 years but the last 2 years have taken it’s toll I am having my first psychology appointment on Friday and I’m petrified

    reply
    • Roland  March 26, 2017

      You will be alright. The first 5min you’ll be nervous till you settle in.

      reply
    • Kelly  March 26, 2017

      I know that feeling Susan – the hardest part is getting into the door. Once you’re there, and you realize that it is a safe and loving space, things will start to flow and settle. The fear is normal…the bravery to conquer it and go anyway is what makes you strong! 🙂

      reply
    • Terra  March 27, 2017

      Don’t be scared, it’s your 1st step to releasing those negative feelings, I go tomorrow to my 2nd appt. With someone I already worked with, deep breaths, one issue at a time, I wish you alot of luck, And crying does help,

      reply
  2. Janemarie  March 26, 2017

    I feel like I am in a never ending prison, I’m dying to get out and live life, I don’t know how to. I’m desperate to be free

    reply
    • Roland  March 26, 2017

      Please get in touch through through private message by contact form.

      reply
    • Teresa.  March 26, 2017

      I can understand your prison comment Janemarie, but I now keep myself in the prison as it is safe from the evil world.

      reply
    • Terra  March 27, 2017

      I can so relate, my own mind feels overwhelmed and like it is closing in on me, it’s a bad feeling, talking helps for a day or so then the trap comes back, I hope you can find a way to get thru this, in whatever ways are comfortable for you

      reply
    • Trace  April 3, 2017

      Me too.

      reply
    • Lucia  June 19, 2017

      i am the same.
      The prison SO sofisticated.
      Coping mechanisms make sure that nobody can ever see the prison i live in as to the outside i ride on high wave of adrenaline that i make look as if enjoyment, while suffering like an amimal inside…

      reply
  3. Annie  March 26, 2017

    I like the dialectical approach of holding equally both the child and the adult perspectives.I have found through personal experience and in working with clients that in order to be able to do this, that the necessary time, patience and unconditional love and acceptance is key. Respect, honesty, reflection, caring, vision, being willing to tolerate distress often takes someone else being a steady witness who is not frightened or put off by emotional reactivity – someone who is well grounded and healthy. Sometimes that person is hard to find.

    reply
    • Roland  March 26, 2017

      Well said. Fully agree.

      reply
    • Kelly  March 26, 2017

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write your comment, Annie…your words ring true and will help me to articulate what I need from those people in my life who are trying to understand how to help me. They may also help another person in need, so thank you!

      reply
  4. Lou  March 26, 2017

    Very interesting especially as this is very much somthing im going through at the moment trying to rationalise my feeling deep pain trying to surface ! So hard at times ..

    reply
  5. Sara  March 26, 2017

    I am having hypnotherapy for cptsd and felt i was progressing well but now seem to have gone backwards and lots of tears, anger, anxiety, frustration at crying for stupid, things. Do you think hypnotherapy is enough?

    reply
    • Roland  March 27, 2017

      It really depends if your therapist is well versed in working with cptsd and has done enough work him/herself to be able to hold the space.

      reply
    • Terra  March 27, 2017

      Crying is never for stupid things, it’s such a flood of emotions you feel, I do alot of it, I feel better afterwards, good luck

      reply
      • Michelle  September 24, 2017

        But how do you cry??? I have been in therapy for 5 years twice a week and haven’t been able to shed one tear.
        If sadness happens to come numbness will follow straight away

        reply
  6. Melody  March 27, 2017

    Yes. I tend to go into guilt and self reproach. I have just discovered that I would punish myself for making “mistakes” just the way she spanked me so hard it left bruises when she was “potty training” me. I was only 2 yet I remember what she did. I’m 42 now. She hurt me for doing something normal and natural D going to the bathroom.

    reply
  7. Will  March 27, 2017

    It’s been 52 years since I was raped. I just want to let my 7 year old self rest and heal. I have such a great future laid before me. I need the power and the courage and desire to step forward into it. I am really tired.

    reply
  8. Cheri  March 27, 2017

    So am I understanding you to say, that by simply allowing both perspectives to be held without judging or condemning either, it allows both “voices” to be heard and felt? This is enough to heal?
    I can relate to shutting down a triggered response ASAP b/c it’s so damned painful but never acknowledged it as judging or condemning. Am I on track with you?

    reply
    • Roland  March 27, 2017

      Holding both perspectives and negating self-judgment is a start into the process of healing. It is moving through the different emotional coping responses. When doing this you might feel more the intensity of the initial hurt(s) which needs addressing then. The difficulty is that when we come close to that we easily feel overwhelmed again and want to disconnect hence we keep pendulating between extremes. The art is to slowly come close to the initial wound to be able to really digest and process it. In the presence of another, who helps holding space, this process will be accelerated.

      reply
      • Helen  May 30, 2017

        How do we do this, Roland? Any resources on it?

        reply
        • Roland  June 12, 2017

          Hi Helen. When we start to take away the importance we put on guilt, blame and self-reproach it moves us a layer deeper where the emotional pain (in the body) is held. By slowly on approaching that one give boundaries to it and assist in processing the emotional residue.

          reply
          • Helen  June 12, 2017

            Thanks, how do we take away that importance?

          • Roland  June 14, 2017

            It’s by first seeing that you are doing it. That dissociation works in that fashion to go into guilt, blame, shame, self-reproach and many more as to not feel emotionally overwhelmed. When that becomes clear to you, you can exercise more control over it by shifting from the head and its thoughts into the body.

          • Helen  June 14, 2017

            Thank you! that makes a lot of sense.

  9. Lee  March 27, 2017

    Roland, I really appreciate your using the term “Dual Awareness” in trauma recovery in this way. Although I have experienced this during meditation practice …I’ve never heard it applied to inner child/nurturing parent … it makes perfect sense … and a really useful tool. Thank you.

    reply
  10. April  March 27, 2017

    I was diagnosed with PTSD years ago and there many factors that could have brought it on being molested as a child by a family member, my mother passing, being torn from all my siblings, nasty divorce, my ex in hiding with my children, never feeling like I belong anywhere. I feel guilty for no reason all the time. I feel overly emotional at times and emotionally numb other times. My psychiatrist told me I should write a book because she was amazed at all I went through. I do not have a psychiatrist now. I don’t even know where to start as to heal.

    reply
  11. Jinni  March 30, 2017

    Shame and guilt are always lurking. I feel like I’m being tortured by my mind almost daily. I was sex trafficked for over 10 years. It started when I turned 17. I still think I should have gotten out of there sooner, although the first time I left or didn’t come back without their permission they sent someone to punish me horribly later. I knew something was going to happen, I just didn’t know when, where or who. I learned my lesson and went back. You don’t leave unless they say you can, or you get raped and beat out by the men in charge. That’s what had to be done for me to get out. I’ve actually had run-ins with the man that was sent to teach me a lesson almost 4 yrs ago, at the easter carnival at church. I ran to my car to get something for my daughters and he got me… I’m even constantly looking over my shoulder since i was 17 and I still didn’t see him. He was in the car next to mine. Bastards!!!

    reply
    • Roland  March 31, 2017

      Thanks for sharing Jinni.

      reply
  12. Maree  April 1, 2017

    Thank you so much for posting this today. This is exactly the state I found myself in this week at my counselling appt…..beyond reproach. It is such a confusing feeling having both adult reaction and child reaction at the same time. Nice to know it is actually a normal reaction to past experience and present triggers…..now to get it under control….Lol

    reply
    • Roland  April 1, 2017

      Welcome. I hope your current therapist knows how to work with this constructively.

      reply
  13. Ayesha  April 3, 2017

    Lots of guilt & sadness. Its very difficult when people treat you like you not good enough and that its wrong to feel what you’re feeling at any given time. I have always felt like the odd one out…there are days when its so challenging but one has to push through…

    reply
  14. Hele  April 14, 2017

    Wow, Roland, your description of the duel perspectives is spot on and oftentimes I am aware of each one. For me, self reproach is more evident, but is no longer a huge issue because the parts mainly work together now, as best as possible, given the age differences. Sometimes when my T asks a question, I get varying answers based on the experience of that self.

    reply
    • Hele  April 14, 2017

      Well, to clarify, I have the awareness, (in the therapy setting only), but not yet the ability to have it work to cancel the over reaction when I am triggered. To be able to do that would be HUGE for me.

      reply
  15. Summer  May 20, 2017

    Hi, all.
    First, I’m sorry we’re all here. I hope we all can find healing and learn how to nuture and heal our damaged inner-children.

    I wanted to make a few statements and perhaps get a few opinions from others that are further along than I am in their recovery.

    I think alot of what is keeping me personally from healing is that I feel no matter what I do, I’m spinning my wheels. The negative thoughts, though irrational from my now-adult perspective are still there and haunt me daily. I can’t function as most people do, and I negate myself even more internally because of it.
    Also, I know I’m blocking out some specifics and periods of times when traumatic abuse took place.
    I was young; very young, and abuse continued until I cut all ties with my the abusive people.
    I fear that any advancement would lead to me remembering horrific events that I have blocked out and I’d regress quickly into a state of psychosis.
    Has anyone else experienced this?
    Any information, opinions, thoughts, or ideas would be so appreciated.

    Brightest blessings to you all and thank you in advance for any replies.

    reply
  16. Amanda-Amelia  May 28, 2017

    Yip. I do get that a lot. We’ve been working on getting the pieces of me that feel this to come to terms with present and past. I just yesterday had such an incident again after which the illogical guilt and self-reproach came again. Me myself and I tend to try and work together to understand why “we” feel this way and what we can do to make it better and not brush it under the carpet. Thanks for this article, it came at the best time I could’ve seen it.

    reply
  17. Cd  May 28, 2017

    I have a hard time accepting the abuse. I’ve been in therapy for a year. Was referred to a trauma specialist… But she’s leaving in August. I feel I will never get thru trauma processing. So frustrating to be on a time table. I’ve enjoyed your articles.

    reply
  18. Tiffiny  June 5, 2017

    Just realized, why my mom is so mean and distant unless she needs something. I’m 36. I ruined my teens and my relationship and life because my mom and dad are narcissist, I was always told everything was my fault and I’m drama.. I spoil everyone and still get ignored 🙁 having a hard time trying to let go, now my sister is her scapegoat, and it killa my heart..i have a huge heart.. not sure where it came from.. My mom has none

    reply
    • Helen  June 5, 2017

      I am sorry for your suffering. It sounds like your mom may have had her heart torn out by suffering too… strength on your journey. Keep strong, keep going. Look Up.

      reply
  19. Heather  June 12, 2017

    I have done many self help books, seminars,therapy and have healed my little girl inside of me however I am still haunted by sexual abuse as a child.Many unanswered questions, really bothers me that I cannot remember when I lost my virginity,when the abuse started and for how long? Feeling threatened by feeling that other women or females generally,not feeling adequate or beautiful ? I was raised in a home with six brothers and my father was a drill sergeant in the army..My mother never seemed to nurture the female in me,or she was threatened? not sure.. would just like to eliminate this feeling of self doubt and fear of rejection by my husband

    reply
    • Roland  June 12, 2017

      Hi Heather. Great you made a lot of progress in your healing journey. As what I read from your comment part of the hurt though abuse still acts itself out as self-doubt and fear of rejection. Instinctively we always want to move away from pain though healing comes by sitting with the tough parts. If you a little help get in touch by private message.

      reply
  20. LisaZ  June 20, 2017

    This was pretty timely in my FB feed. I went to a gathering at a campground with a bunch of other families (friends). The first night there, I backed my vehicle into a tree. I had a VERY hard time staying present and grounded. It brought me back to an old experience in my teen years that was handled extremely harshly by my “family.” And it brought up all kinds of feels of shame for making a mistake that was highly visible in a group of people I’m still getting to know and of course want to put best foot forward. Thankfully it’s a group of awesome people, many of whom told me their own stories of similar events, and who helped remind me it wasn’t a big deal, etc. I was able to re-examine some of the past event with my “now” skills and somewhat able to accept what is and be a little more gentle with myself. It helped that I went through the exercise of what would I say to my own offspring- the answer of course being to check they were okay, feel the feelings, then look at the series of decisions that led to that outcome and see if there was any information to learn where different decisions might have led to a different outcome. No judgement, no shame, just learning from the event and moving on. Easier to do for offspring than myself, but it helps. 🙂

    reply
  21. Tam  March 23, 2018

    Stll working through grief loss childhood sexual abuse domestic violence abuse ive been working on this for years and still struggle with feeling frozen. I can’t make friends. Trust is hard. Socially awkward. Learning to accept in my older age.

    reply

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