In our title Afraid of Heights by Stefan Gaulin, there is a horrific scene where the main character, as a child, discovers his mother horrifically murdered. Tragically, this happens all around the world today. No doubt that this a traumatic experience any child would deal with for their whole lives.
We All Have Trauma, it Just Depends Which Kind
There are two types of trauma we all deal with: Type A Trauma and Type B Trauma. Most of us are familiar with Type B Trauma which stands for "Bad Things That Happen" trauma. This scene from Afraid of Heights is good example as our main character ends up becoming an addict. Again, this is sadly a very common occurrence in reality.
Type A Trauma - What You Don't Know You Don't Know
Most are not as familiar with Type A Trauma which stands for "Absence of Necessary Good Things" trauma. This is the type of trauma I have had to deal with the most personally. What's tricky about this trauma is you don't know you don't know you have it. In other words, this trauma is always in the blind spots we don't even know are there.
Sources of Type A Trauma Are:
- Being valued for what you do (performance) by parents instead of who you are (virtue of existing).
- Growing up without receiving, understanding or the encouragement to share what you think and feel.
- Lack of non-sexual nurture such as hugs and sitting in laps.
- Not receiving age appropriate limits and boundaries without questioning our value.
- Lack of basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter and medical care.
- Not being taught to persevere through hard things and solve problems.
- Not being given opportunities to develop talents.
Beyond my own personal life, Type A Trauma is also what I deal with most as a life and executive coach. Type B Trauma, such as death or abuse, should always be dealt with professionally. Now, even though Type A Trauma is usually the most easiest to remember, it is given the least significance. This leads to frustration and confusion on issues such as the reason we don't trust others or always feel obligated to prove our worth and constantly please others. As a coach, I always try to help people validate and understand the necessity of addressing Type A Trauma.
How Our Brains are Affected
Studies have shown that Type A Trauma affects our brains the most in the areas where strong emotions are handled. In other words, we don't handle feelings like anger, disgust, fear, sadness, hopelessness and shame very well. We act out inappropriately, by either shutting down or getting aggressive, which completely stunts relational and maturity skills development.
The Only Solution for Type A Trauma
Type A Trauma recovery requires one thing: enduring and loving relationships. A person needs to trust and let these deep feelings emerge before developing the strength to face them. This can only be done over time in the presence of authentic and loving relationships that allow for vulnerability.
In this way, my coaching usually revolves helping others with the skills to develop the healthiest relationships to support Type A Trauma recovery. Again, this doesn't happen over night. It can be a long journey (one that I am on every day) but it is always worth it.
I hope this gives you a little more awareness about Trauma. We all have Type A Trauma because people, especially our parents, can never be perfect. But let me assure you, there is always hope. We all deserved to be love and valued and there are many who are willing to provide these relationships if we are willing to look and receive them.