Amelia Gillis, LMHC
Meet Fran. She is a 26-year-old single, driven, and successful professional ballerina. When she performs it as though all her worries past and present disappears. Fran, moves so eloquently as though she has learn the art of moving through life storms without a care in this world. Fran has been a ballerina for as long as she can remember. She has performed with some of the greatest in her profession around the world. She has taken pride in her ability to be great in all that she sets out to achieve. However, one thing she hasn’t mastered is the ability to speak up about her emotional scars.
For those who know Fran, knows that she is soft spoken, friendly, and knows how to work the room. Everyone gravitates to Fran, because she is always smiling and her life seems to be "put together". Yet, there is a mystery about Fran. Fran doesn't open up much and keeps a lot of things inside to avoid killing her image. She made a vow years ago that she wouldn't trust anyone. Therefore, intimacy for her isn't what Fran does because getting close to others was a lesson that caused her more pain than she knew.
It all started 16 years ago. Fran was 10 years old when it happened. Her family was picture perfect. They traveled a lot and did everything together. Her parents were the "ideal couple". Everyone fancied them. Therefore, there house was always filled with friends turned family. Yet, Fran definition for family changed on the day that she tries not to remember. Her parents were outside near the grill when it all happened. She was upstairs in her room when this friend walked by. She noticed that someone came upstairs but paid it no attention. He then popped his head into her room and started up a conversation, On his way to the bathroom, he popped in which seem to be innocent to her. He would ask her about her day and praise her for her most recent good deeds.
She became so comfortable that it wasn’t uncommon for her dad to run next door and leave her with this gentleman. That’s when things changed. He told her that he wanted to show her something on her phone and said he had a treat for her. Little did she know that the treat would be a violation of her safety and innocence. After he left her room, who she was seemed to change. In her room that night, she vowed to keep it to herself. She didn't want to destroy the "image of her family". So she vowed to suffer in silence.
She never told her family about what happened to her or anyone else fearing that it would cause a huge problem. In her room that night, she vowed to keep it to herself. She didn't want to destroy the "image of her family". So she vowed to suffer in silence.
The Cost of Image
Fast forward to today, Fran is still paying the cost of keeping the image. Whenever she thinks or is triggered to remember the molestation, she becomes upset. She breaks down and isolates from everyone. She wants her mind to forget it ever happened. She doesn't realize the cost and the energy she spends trying to function as though it never happened. She carries the memory of terror and a shame of weakness and utter vulnerability that she doesn't want to address.
However, her body keeps the score of an experience that she didn't want to process. Her trauma created a language that she couldn't escape. She doesn't attach to others because her trauma taught her that she cannot trust or rely on anyone. She painted a picture of a world that is scary and dangerous. Therefore, she avoids close connections.
Left empty and alone, she avoids the memory of her childhood and decides to "keep dancing" because dancing is better than feeling.
Impact of the Image
Experiencing trauma in childhood can have a severe and long-lasting effect. When left unresolved, a sense of fear and helplessness carries over into adulthood, which can set the stage for further trauma. Psychological trauma is when an event shatters your sense of security. When the event makes you feel frightened and helpless, the more likely you are to be traumatized.
Many people are like Fran. they believe their body will carry them through. Ideally, our brains information processing system are designed to process events naturally towards mental health. However, if the system can't process the event because the event was to distressing, The emotional wound festers and causes suffering. The event can retrigger a person based upon a familiar smell, sight, taste related to the event. Therefore, causing more distress in the long wrong, furthering the trauma. If you are like the young lady and have experienced a traumatic event even as a child, take the steps today to seek help to resolve those issues.
Therapist support clients by helping them activate their natural healing processes. This enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.
May you create an image that is healthy for you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
*All journal entries include fictional characters with real life conditions that are used as an educational tool.