How Micro Traumas Add To One's Cup Of Woes

 

ACEs studies usually focus on the bigger, more tangible adverse experiences in a child’s life. However, there are a number of minor stressors that may not be really traumatic for kids not going through significant ACEs, are nevertheless devastating to a child already going through trauma. 

A week before my mother died I had shared a secret about another girl to my best friend. After I returned to school post my mother’s death, I realized my best friend had revealed what I had shared with the girl concerned. Both of them ganged up and shunned me, I was an outcast. My relationship with my best friend ended. It was devastating.  My 11-year-old self concluded, my mother's death was a punishment for telling tales about others

 Not even a month after my mother died, a cousin 10 years older tried to sexually molest me. Moreover, my paternal grandmother blamed me ‘Saying just like her mother” How does an 11-year-old react to that shaming and besmirching my beloved mother's character,

My brother very loving and protective up to my mother’s death violently banged my head on the wall to stop me from intruding on his boy talk. The second closest relationship in my life was shattered one month after my mother died.

An aunt taking me to home in the guise of helping me cope with the loss of my mother's death and then putting me to work cleaning her home and dirty vessels. How does a grieving 11-year-old  cope with this covert deceit and self-centeredness?

A teacher punished me for not completing my homework and sending a note home just a week after my mother died. I got a good spanking.

My maternal grandmother began hiding food and acting cold and rejecting. Till my mother was alive she was the best grandmother in the world. My confused 11-year-old self was left wondering what had I done wrong.

One of my uncles would make fun of my dirty clothes. My 11-year-old self couldn’t understand how an adult couldn’t understand my mother was not there to take care of my needs. I was managing the best way I could.

My aunt accusing me, an innocent 13-year-old who was desperate for love and affection that I was trying to seduce her husband. I did not know what seduce was or what it was to be a woman. Even today I am confused about how to be a woman.

When we talk of the resilience of kids, it is not about surviving the big stressors it is having to contend with the meanness, invalidation, tiny cruelties, shunning that may not be as ongoing but nevertheless add to one’s cup woes. According to the PTSD Cup theory one can bear trauma to a certain point without our cup overflowing or hitting a breaking point. 

For those who kids who are going through a series of major ACEs, any additional wounding is like adding salt to their wounds.

When one is already struggling through successive losses and wounding which cuts out a large chunk of our soul any additional stress easily sends us spiraling into depression, rage, suicide or mass-murder.

When dealing with kids or for that matter adults we need to understand how all those micro traumas slowly destroy one's resilience to bounce back from adversity.

Image Source: 
https://www.myptsd.com/threads...p-explanation.13737/

 

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Cheryl Miranda posted:

Thank you, Cissy.  Every comment is like a healing balm.

I am so glad I joined this site. This is one place where we don't have to explain ourselves. All of us have been on similar journeys. Love the feeling of connection and community here. 

Cheryl:

Sentences that make a day!

"Every comment is like a healing balm."

THANK YOU and FOR BEING HERE & helping make this site what it is!!!

cissy

Thank you, Cissy.  Every comment is like a healing balm.

I am so glad I joined this site. This is one place where we don't have to explain ourselves. All of us have been on similar journeys. Love the feeling of connection and community here. 

Cheryl:

This brought tears to my eyes. It's painful and I feel for the little girl you were. It shows in a way clinical stuff can't always capture such important stuff. I think you show so well how often it's misguided to think of singular events or even single ACEs as the only trauma, which is sometimes how people think of PTSD, even complex PTSD, as about one or a few "big" traumas when really, for most, I think it's the cumulative impact of so many forms of neglect and abuse, coupled with losses, changes, disruptions in relationships with peers, siblings, extended family that happen right along with a devastating and major loss. And then when all that happens without family or parental support, or community or peer support, or support from orgs or institutions... and how it's all combined. Thank you for sharing, for showing as well as telling and for all the stuff you share on this site!

Cis

Thanks, Rick. Yes, you are right 'Insidious Trauma' is a more apt word for these kinds of woundings. 

But in comparison to a parent's death, these may seem minor, though adding them all, that too in close succession totally destroys a child. 

The 2 years post my mother's death were particularly harrowing. It totally destroyed my still developing self.

Cheryl Miranda posted:

Thank you, Monica, for validating my experiences.

You are right they were terribly wounding. I never really got to grieve for my mother till recently. It was like as I tried to get up, I was again violently shoved down. Till finally, it felt like all my life force had been sucked out of me.

Thank you Cheryl for sharing your journey. These micro traumas are being recognized by the trauma literature, and researchers have begun to conceptualize oppressive experiences as traumatic events and have advocated that categories of traumatic events be expanded to include experiences of oppression that do not meet our traditional views of trauma.  The term many use for these harmful experiences is insidious trauma. I love that term!

Monica Bhagwan posted:

Somehow calling these "micro traumas" doesn't do justice to how deeply wounding and betraying these events were. But I imagine that in the scheme of losing your mother, they must feel less significant. Thank you for sharing your story.

Monica you are so correct! It’s unfortunate that how we refer to our oppressive experiences has an impact on how seriously others respond to them.  

Thank you, Monica, for validating my experiences.

You are right they were terribly wounding. I never really got to grieve for my mother till recently. It was like as I tried to get up, I was again violently shoved down. Till finally, it felt like all my life force had been sucked out of me.

Somehow calling these "micro traumas" doesn't do justice to how deeply wounding and betraying these events were. But I imagine that in the scheme of losing your mother, they must feel less significant. Thank you for sharing your story.

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