No matter how long ago you went through a traumatic experience, it isn’t always easy to talk about. That can be especially true if you’re trying to figure out when to tell a romantic partner or someone else close to you.
People with a trauma history can feel everything from shame and guilt to embarrassment and fear about what happened to them. Even if you know it wasn’t your fault those feelings can creep in when you consider sharing your story with someone, making you second guess yourself quickly.
How can you tell if it’s the right time to share your trauma history with someone? And, if it is, how can you go about doing it in a way that will make you feel safe and secure?
Think About Why You Want to Share
If you’re considering sharing your trauma history with someone, one essential thing to do is consider why you want to do so.
What is your motive for wanting to open up about it? Believe it or not, that can make a big difference in recognizing whether it’s the right time or not.
If you want to tell someone only to determine if they still want to be in your life, even though you have “baggage,” it isn’t the right time. Unfortunately, that can open up old memories and wounds about your trauma that you may not be ready for.
However, a potential good reason to share is if someone has earned your trust and you are ready to tell them as part of moving forward in your healing process. If you feel that opening up about what you went through will help you to move forward, that’s a great sign that you’re ready to retake control of your life.
Additionally, you may want to share with a significant other if you want him or her to understand why you respond the way you do in triggering situations. Letting them in on more information about your trauma history can help them understand you better, and comprehend why you behave the way you do.
Do You Know How to Manage Your Trauma Responses?
When individuals share their trauma history with people, they may not have an ideal response. It is possible that when you disclose this information they may not be entirely sure how to respond. But, if they care about you, they will want to be sensitive to the subject and your needs.
Are you prepared for whatever response they might give you? Are you willing to answer questions, even if it might trigger some of your trauma responses? If so, consider whether you know how to manage those responses.
Your trauma responses can be either physical or emotional. Some trauma survivors find themselves shaking, or their heart begins to race. Others feel immeasurable amounts of sadness or guilt.
If you don’t yet have a handle on your responses, it might not be the best time to talk to someone about your trauma history.
Who Are You Doing This For?
Trauma is an incredibly personal thing. Therefore, talking to someone about it needs to be just as unique. Please don’t open up about your trauma history because you think it will benefit someone or because you feel that you owe it to someone.
Instead, your words need to be all about you. No one else will ever fully know what you went through. So, if you’re opening up because you feel you owe it to someone, you don’t. You owe it to yourself to take your time and talk about your history when you are ready.
Maybe you’re ready to open up about that history, but you’re not quite ready to talk about it with family members, a partner, or friends just yet. If that sounds like you, feel free to contact me to sort through your feelings. Together, we can talk about as much or as little of your history as you’re comfortable with. It can be your first step forward in the next chapter of your life.
You don’t have to let your trauma define you. Telling someone about it, for the right reasons, can give you control again. I’m open to talking; please reach out to me today.