June 19, 2023


Resolving your past traumas/life events does not mean everything will now be okay. This is especially true if you have used “unhealthy grounds” such as substances, sexualized behaviors, isolation, anger, etc. to ease your pain during those years. The road to full recovery and past resolution is a journey and not a race. That journey begins with sobering up to begin the work that is necessary to resolve your pasts.   

I cannot stress enough how important recognizing that some of the behaviors following a trauma may have lasting effects, or what I refer to as “residual effects.” You need to recognize and process those behaviors, thoughts, and feelings and how they have impacted your current lives, or be susceptible to substance relapses, and other mental health problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, etc.). 

Many clients I have treated for addictions at my centers have held the belief that 30 or 60 days of rehab will “fix” their lives. I always cautioned them to this myth, especially those who had unresolved trauma and used alcohol or drugs to ease the pain of their pasts. I made it clear that the journey after rehab is just the beginning of a better life. I would always prepare them for the “EXPECTATIONS” that can lead to relapses.  

I do an entire group on “EXPECTATIONS,” and I can tell you they are extremely dangerous at such a fragile time in your trauma resolution journey. It is further complicated when you have used substances as an unhealthy way to deal with the “flashbacks” and other trauma symptoms.  

This does not mean there’s little hope to find peace from our pasts! There is always hope to resolve our painful pasts. I am a perfect example and will share what is necessary to stay focused and work toward resolving your pasts.  

The best example to illustrate this is an onion. The core being the past trauma and each layer further removes you from it and adds further stress to your lives. As you heal the core, you need to peel the layers away and remove them to reach resolution. 

The behaviors you have engaged in to manage the pain of unresolved past trauma also have to be processed and resolved through self-awareness work. Many times, these behaviors have caused further damage to yourselves and caused you to experience additional traumas/life events. These added burdens cause further shame and guilt experiences, and the cycle continues. It is easy to see why we become so overwhelmed and many times relapse back into using substances again.  

There was a book written back in the sixties “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” and it applies to those of you who believe everything will now be okay because you have sobered up and faced your pasts and resolved the pain. That is not the end of journey, it is just the beginning. The self-healing journey is a lifetime one as it should be. Believing everything will be okay now is an expectation that will cause more harm than good. 

The theme of the book is suggesting I only promised you a chance to now find freedom from your pasts. In the addiction world, it means I have sobered you up and now have given you the opportunity to find peace. The road you take now is up to you.  

Once you have put your pasts to rest, you need to now accept and own the harm and self-harm you have caused others, but more importantly yourselves. This is where I stress the need to forgive yourselves for not being “perfect.” No one is perfect, but yet we hold ourselves to that standard. We have all made mistakes and have done things we may be ashamed of, but we are all imperfect. 

Please do not be overwhelmed and convinced that the trauma resolution journey is not worth it. It is, and it will be the greatest journey you will ever take part in. The only expectation worth having is one that you have total control over; that is your inner selves.  

Trauma resolution means “inner peace” and that alone is worth all the pain you have endured. Each layer of skin you peel away brings you that much closer to the core and to peace.  

Mind, Body, Spirit…Balance! 

Vinnie Strumolo, CEO, CCO, LMFT