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Trauma is NOT Linear for Autistics with Alexithymia

by Carole Jean Whittington, January 25, 2022

A large part of #lateidentifiedlife is recognizing and processing past trauma.  This is far from a linear process.  There is no direct path from A to Z.

Throw alexithymia into the mix and you have a whole other experience on this trauma path.  The delayed realizations that hit you out of what feels like nowhere.  You have one conversation and one phrase or feeling unlocks a cascade of other past experiences and emotions you never noticed before.  All of a sudden past events come flooding in for you to make sense of and process.

Days later you are beginning to notice that there were relationships and people who treated you very badly and who hurt you, but you did not realize it at the time.  You were in survival mode as an unidentified autistic.  

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Often the fear of rejection dominates our thoughts and we experience that emotional hurt as a deeply physical pain.  There is some great science research into this by one of my favorite researchers, Matthew D Lieberman.  We experience those emotional hurts as physical pain that is equivalent to how a broken arm or other injury shows up in the brain when looked at in an fMRI.  When you say, “My heart is broken”  your brain actually experiences that feeling as if you have a physical broken heart.  It actually hurts.


At the heart of late identified trauma, there is the deep fear of being unlovable, not being worthy of love and not being good enough for many of us.

The path to not only healing from past trauma but to step into our power and thriving, authentic life as an autistic is not a straight line.  This path can be one that can both surge and meander. The key is knowing you are not alone and having a guide who has been where you are to help reduce the time you spend to reach your thriving, authentic life.

One step to begin taking towards the reclamation of you:

Ask yourself this question and take time to journal on this-

How does holding on to the feelings and beliefs of rejection impact my heart?

Is what I believe about why I was rejected really true?

(insight) Take a look at the event through the eyes of a neutral observer.  More often than not you will discover that the other person is operating from a place of their own fears and false beliefs.  


When I began looking at events in my past that came up and are still coming up thanks to alexithymia, this process has helped me see the event in a new way I hadn’t before.  It has allowed me to see it from a place that removes my direct emotional and physical hurt and it has opened up space to let go so that my heart can heal.  


My hope is that this will also be a blessing to your heart today.  You are worthy, you are beautiful, you are loved and you are perfect just as you are.  You matter.


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