The Unexpected Upsides of Family Separation for Trauma Healing


Family estrangement – it’s a tough, emotional choice surrounded by misconceptions and a heavy stigma. But let’s shake things up a bit, especially when discussing trauma survivors. We’re here to delve into the unexpected ways cutting ties with family members might aid in the journey of healing.

Understanding the Nature of Trauma

Trauma, at its core, is deeply personal. It changes how we interact with the world, how we see others, and most significantly, how we view ourselves. Brushing it aside doesn’t work; in fact, it often makes things worse. That’s why surrounding ourselves with a supportive environment is key.

But what happens when the family becomes the source of trauma or unintentionally adds to it? Is a family setting always conducive to healing? Well, not necessarily.

Debunking the “Blood is Thicker Than Water” Myth

Families can be complex. Unspoken expectations and rules often dictate interactions. And the adage “blood is thicker than water” reinforces the idea that we should endure harmful situations because of family ties. However, when these connections amplify your pain, estrangement might be the way to go.

Estrangement isn’t about denying your family or their significance. It’s about carving out a safe space where you’re not continuously being reminded of past traumas. In some cases, distance might be exactly what you need for personal growth.

Why Estrangement Can Work

So, why might estrangement be beneficial in some situations?


  • It disrupts unhealthy patterns: Trauma can lead to an abuse cycle, and estrangement can serve as a necessary full stop.

  • It restores control: Trauma can leave you feeling helpless, but stepping back is a proactive choice. It helps survivors reclaim their autonomy.

  • It enables building a new “family of choice”: Friends, mentors, or a supportive therapist can provide the empathy and non-judgmental listening that trauma survivors need.

This isn’t to suggest that estrangement is an easy decision or a cure-all. Trauma recovery is unique to each individual, and the healing journey is seldom a straight path.

Honoring Your Healing Journey

What’s most important is to respect your feelings and needs throughout your healing journey. You have the right to decide who gets to be a part of your life.

Navigating these waters is no easy feat, and professional help can provide the guidance you need. A trusted therapist can help explore your feelings and give guidance on whether to reconcile or move forward with estrangement.

At the end of the day, surviving trauma isn’t just about eradicating pain; it’s about finding joy, peace, and fulfillment in your life. And sometimes, that journey might involve tough decisions, such as family estrangement.

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