Home Healing From Abuse Healing from abuse feels like a juggling act.
healing from trauma can feel like a juggling act

Healing from abuse feels like a juggling act.

by Matt Pappas

It’s no secret if you know me at all, have read this blog, or have checked out my podcasts and YouTube videos, that I am terrible at multi-tasking. I’m better at being laser focused on something and seeing it through to the end. Healing from trauma can feel like a juggling act, and for those of us that aren’t good at multitasking trauma, it’s even more difficult.

The fact that I associate multitasking with a juggling act should tell you how difficult it is for me. Although I’d love to learn how to juggle some day. 

As I’ve mentioned before, when I first started therapy back in early 2015, it was centered mainly around my second failed marriage and trying to cope with being a single dad again; just generally picking up the pieces. Then it morphed into my past trauma of being sexually abused as a child, and that took over from late summer 2015 into late winter 2016. Then just a couple months ago, as I write this, it took another unexpected turn and transformed into what could just be biggest issue to recover from, the mother wounds.

As someone who prefers to focus on one task at hand and give it my all, this whole juggling act is not working out so well for me.

As I look back at the progress I was making in my healing,  I was encouraged. I still am encouraged as a matter of fact. I share my story on this blog, other sites, and survivor chats on Twitter*.

As a trusted friend told me just the other day, my trauma is like an iceberg. On the surface, and no small surface at that, is the CSA, bullying, and failed relationships. Before I continue, even though the marriages ended, my 3 amazing kids make everything worthwhile every day, I’m grateful for them. Love you guys!

Those issues are bad enough, but they aren’t hidden anymore. As I look back at my past and continue to move forward in my healing journey, they are out there, easily visible, and recognizable. However, as you likely know, the ultimate size and mass of an iceberg can’t be seen from the surface. It’s what below the surface that really tells the story.

Underneath my iceberg of trauma is my mother. Maybe I should have named this post, Iceberg of Trauma. Oh well…

I’m finding now, just much of my deep rooted animosity, anxiety, frustration, anger, and overall discontentment is stemming from how I was raised. The lack of validation I received from her in those traumatic years of being abused and bullied was as bad as the actual horrific events themselves. As I’ve stated before, she did not physically abuse me, but lack of attention and validation took its tool and pushed me further away as the years went on.

So here I am, in my 40’s, trying to heal and put my life back together. The problem now is thathealing from trauma can feel like a juggling act I’m having a ton of emotional distress trying to process all of these factors: the abuse, the bullying, relationships, and my mother. At this point I’m just not doing a very good job of it, I fully admit it here and I’ve admitted as much to J and my trusted friend/colleague.

The progress I’ve made in those others areas seems to have stalled out and been put on the back burner. That is unbelievably frustrating since I know I have a long way to go in all of those areas to feel more healed and comfortable with where I am now and where the blame should go for those eventsYes, I still blame myself at times, but I’m getting better at not doing that. 

I feel an increasing level of resentment towards her because she is dominating my life now, and my recovery journey. It’s like being a kid all over again. Even if she isn’t here living with me now, it’s like the cloud is still hanging. Here comes the guilt creeping in right now, feeling ungrateful. Gosh it never ends!

This healing and recovery is my thing; I took the initiative to heal from it. I’m putting in the work and dedicating myself to having the life I want and being the father I should be and want to be. Yet here she is again at the forefront. As was recently pointed out to me, once I can accept that my healing is going to be not quite as much about the childhood abuse and bullying, but more of the problem with my mother, I might not feel so stuck.

Am I truly stuck? Have I really stalled out in healing? Some seem to think the answer is, no.  I see where they are coming from I just don’t know if I’m ready to fully accept it yet. Uncovering new memories from our past may seem like we’ve now taken on too much to handle at one time, but it just might be that our brain is giving it to us because we are ready to handle it. Even if we don’t think so.

So by that line of thinking, my healing journey maybe isn’t so stalled out as I thought. After all, if this is the biggest obstacle to overcome and learn from, the rest just might all fall into place in time.  I have to learn to stop feeling like healing from trauma is a juggling act, and accept where I am for now and proceed at my own comfortable pace.

When my mind and heart are ready, I’ll have that empowered feeling I keep chasing.


*Search Twitter for #CSAQT , #NoMoreShame , #SexAbuseChat


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Joy Richardson June 9, 2016 - 11:04 pm

It must be heartbreaking to not have a good mother-son relationship. She has obviously hurt you a great deal, but try not to let her live rent free in your head.

Dawn June 11, 2016 - 1:17 pm

I enjoy your blog and find it so inspiring. I have been working with my therapist on discovering the real me. I am a narcissist magnet! Every romantic relationship I have ever been in, including the 11 years with my now ex husband have been filled with narcissists. I am the common demoninator so in order to break the pattern I have to discover who I am and stay firm in that. I’m slowly filling my mental toolbox with new things. I am a multi tasker, I rarely can focus on one thing at a time. Today I am intentionally slowing down and focusing one one thing at a time. Thanks for the reminder in your post!

jaklumen June 13, 2016 - 1:07 am

I’ve been angry at my mother for years- the numerous abuses over a long, long time- but only recently came to grips with the idea that she has a narcissistic bent (she doesn’t fit NPD straight out, IMHO). You may know of Claire Cappetta (@ClaireCappetta), who helped me with this, but you might not know Rachel Mallino Fowley (@rachelmallino)- she DEFINITELY had an abusive, narc mother.

I’d have to point you to my own blog for you to get the scope. Physical abuse was more my father’s angle early on, but Mom was not above it. Yet he’s trying to change; Mom… I don’t know if she ever will. I’ll still say “but I don’t love you” when she can’t hear me after ending a call; I can grow to like her again, but the love is gone. Emotional abuse for many, many years. Sexual? You’ll have to read… it’s still too triggering to mention here. Not clear cut, but, still wrong. I’ve sometimes said I wish she’d actually molested or raped me, but that wouldn’t be a guarantee that’d be more obvious to people.

Sheryl Burpee Dluginski June 13, 2016 - 3:49 pm

I can relate to much of what you say here, Matt. Know and own that your healing is in progress, because it is. For a long time my healing felt like en endless loop – the same issues coming up over and over – similar to balls being juggled. But eventually I came to realize that healing is not an endless loop or a juggling act, but actually more like a spiral staircase. Maybe this blog post of mine will help you: https://sherylburpeedluginski.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/healing-is-a-spiral-staircase/) In any case, I commend you for your courage to face your past and to do the work to heal from it. Congratulations on all you’ve already accomplished and good luck! May you move from surviving to thriving!

Matt June 13, 2016 - 10:34 pm

Thank you so much Sheryl. Thank you for your encouragement and validation. I will definitely check out your blog post asap! The more I can learn and gain perspective from others, the better!

Perfectionism, the anxiety driven fallacy in recovery. - Surviving My Past January 20, 2017 - 10:04 am

[…] is a jagged journey, it’s a juggling act at times. If we aren’t careful, we can get caught up in what we are supposed to be doing, […]


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