Past trauma is preventing progress


Past trauma is preventing progress


your avatar   No name (29 year-old woman)

I don't know where to begin here. I'm a 29 year-old female with a son aged 10 who I love to pieces...yet every waking moment I wish I were dead. My own childhood was difficult. My mother disowned me and I didn't meet my dad until I was 13. Five weeks later he was murdered. I was raised by my grandmother, who I loved very much, but she died in front of me 2 weeks after my 16th birthday. Within 9 months I was homeless and pregnant with my son to a man 10 years my senior who I didn't love and subsequently left. My life has been an uphill struggle going from one abusive relationship to the next. 3 years ago I resorted to prostitution though my boyfriend to pay bills. I can't cope any longer the way I am. I left prostitution for good a year ago and I am training as a counselor, but I feel suicidal, as I am such a fraud. How can I help other people? If they knew about me they would freak. I am in a relationship and can't express my feelings. My son deserves so much more but I feel such a worthless, useless, dirty waste of space.

Where do I go from here? I've tried trauma therapy and talking and it's making me worse....


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear No name,

I am constantly amazed at the strength and courage of the human spirit in the face of terrible circumstances, and your story brought tears to my eyes. I wish I could meet you in person so I could give you a big hug and tell you how wonderful you are.

You, who have received so little love, have tons of it to give to your son. He will not go through life feeling of little worth - unless you do kill yourself.

You, who have suffered so much and received so little help, are now training to help others in trouble.

My dear, you are NOT a fraud. You are one of my kind. I am excellent at helping troubled people, because I am one of them.

When people bring me children who are considered to be impossible to manage, I can honestly say that their kid is nowhere near as bad as I was during my childhood.

I spent seven years of my life feeling as depressed and worthless as you do now.

These are the kinds of experiences that qualify me to be a helper.

You are a good person and a good helper PRECISELY because of your past suffering.

You say you have had trauma counseling, and it has made matters worse for you. You clearly need a different approach. I don't know where you live, but there may be a local association of psychologists. In the United States there is the American Psychological Association, in Britain the British Psychological Society, and so on. These organizations have referral bases, usually accessible via a free call or email.

Ask to be referred to a trauma counselor who follows the techniques of Kate Kowalski. This lady's approach is NOT to go over the traumatic memories, but to move forward. She would be delighted that you are training to be a counselor yourself, that's the kind of activity that will help to pull you out of your deep hole.

As part of your work on yourself, you need to address certain beliefs about who and what you are. This is 'cognitive therapy'. The version I use was devised and researched by Aaron Beck. Seek out this kind of help.

You see yourself as damaged, faulty, no good, and that is why you are so depressed. I see you as a magnificent survivor. You did whatever you had to in order to keep going, to keep yourself and your little child alive. You survived.

You are not a fraud, or a failure, but a person who can survive anything. You have been hardened and tempered in the worst fires that life could throw at you. Now you can be a sharp tool for good.

With (fatherly) love, Bob Rich

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


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