When we suffer the trauma of abuse or other experiences that are overwhelmingly unpleasant, we dissociate. This is a natural mechanism that allows us to survive trauma.
But, dissociation is only the first half of surviving trauma.
Later, when the danger has passed, we must reassociate. We must return to the trauma in our mind and rejoin with the emotional effect of it. In this way we can bring together the parts of our mind that was split by the traumatic experience.
Once rejoined, that part of our mind can again function normally and contribute to our improved survival. We can get on with life.
This mechanism to deal with trauma is quite amazing. We naturally and unconsciously separate our response to trauma into 2 pieces in our mind. Its automatic. The physical experience cant be postponed, but the emotional effect in the mind can be separated and put safely aside. Later, the emotional effect, which was separated and postponed, can be dealt with at our convenience. Its so great we have this naturally inbuilt mechanism to protect our mind from the full effect of traumatic experiences.
When the trauma is too great, we simply can’t cope with both the physical and emotional trauma simultaneously. Splitting allows us to cope, and later we can return in physical safety to complete the process of survival.
Yet, if we dont return later and rejoin the separated parts of our mind that hold the trauma, we remain ‘damaged’ (uncompleted) and cannot return fully to our lives.
I want to thank Athena and Bobbi from traumarecoveryuniversity.com for inspiring this realization in me. I was watching their 2 hour video special on accepting the reality of abuse. As always, their videos inspire light bulbs in my understanding.