How to Fix Cracks in the Proverbial Foundation of Our Life
Life may feel more difficult in the 30s and 40s if you've had relational trauma.
Posted January 22, 2023 | Reviewed by Jessica Schrader
- Most people experience life as more pressured and challenged in their 30s and 40s.
- If you come from a relational trauma background, these decades can feel even harder.
- It is possible to fix the proverbial cracks in the foundations of our lives.
This is Part 4 in a series. Click to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
In the other three posts in this series, we explored how and why life in the 30s and 40s can feel harder for those who come from relational trauma backgrounds. In today's post, the last in the series, we explored how to "fix" the proverbial cracks in the foundation of life if you do come from this kind of background.
If your proverbial house of life is swaying in your 30s and 40s, how do you fix it?
I want to suggest that while it can feel quite painful and be hard to confront and feel the proverbial cracks in your proverbial foundation and recognize that these cracks are a result of coming from a relational trauma history, it is also a very, very good thing to begin to see and recognize this all.
Because when we feel and see the cracks in our proverbial foundations more clearly, it shows us the work that needs to be done in order to help turn our lives around.
Analogously, when you see the numbers on your cholesterol test come back, it may be painful but you also now know what you’re working with and what interventions you may need to take in order to get yourself to a healthier, less dire place.
It may be hard to see ourselves reflected in the phrase “relational trauma” or to imagine that unresolved childhood trauma is part of why life is feeling so challenging now that you’re an adult, but hard and painful though it may be, it also gives you an opportunity to seek out the supports and interventions that can help you finally resolve the trauma—to fix the cracks in the faulty foundation, so to speak.
And is it possible to fix the cracks in faulty foundations when we come from relational trauma backgrounds?
So what are those interventions for faulty foundations stemming from relational trauma backgrounds? To name a few:
- Reparative relational experiences, ideally through a safe, trusted, attuned, and caring relational psychotherapist who can support you in developing skills and behaviors you may have developmentally missed out on.
- Brain-based psychotherapies such as EMDR that rewire the neural pathways of your brain, reducing distress from unresolved trauma memories and developing and strengthening new neural pathways to support more functional beliefs and behaviors.
- Somatic psychotherapies that allow a mental health clinician to help identify and resolve your symptoms even (and especially) when no memories of any abuse or neglect may be consciously present.
- And finally, psychoeducation. Posts like this one (and any of the others on my blog "Making the Whole Beautiful") can help you see yourself and your reality more clearly so that you feel “less crazy and broken” for having such a hard time, and instead help you see that the hardness you feel is a result not only of the inherent hardness of life but also a result of your personal history.
Why bother doing this relational trauma recovery work? Why fix the foundation now?
We do the work of fixing the cracks in our faulty foundations because, in the words of the artist Terri St. Cloud: “She could never go back and make some of the details pretty. All she could do is move forward and make the whole beautiful.”
In your 30s and 40s (and in every decade after), there is still time to stabilize and make more structurally sound the house of your life.
- There is still time to learn how to be with your feelings and not use potentially destructive and maladaptive behaviors to numb them out.
- There is still time to learn what boundaries are and how to assert them so you can keep yourself safe and respect others around you.
- There is still time to learn what healthy communication looks like and recognize when you’re at the receiving end of unhealthy communication.
- There is still time to learn how to be in relationship with others, learn how to recognize a healthy relationship, tolerate the vulnerability of it, and be a good friend, partner, and parent to others.
- There is still time to learn how to genuinely like and love and respect yourself and how to speak to yourself so very kindly—so much so that abusive, dysfunctional people stay miles away from you because they know you won’t tolerate their behavior.
- There is still time to learn how to assert your needs and wants in the world so that you can have your exterior circumstances more closely resemble the regard you have for yourself internally.
- There is still time to love and be loved. To repair relationships that may have been negatively impacted by the cracks in your foundation.
- There is still time to make different choices that will reduce pain in your day-to-day life once you start to see your choices and options more clearly. There is time to build a beautiful adulthood for yourself.
- There is still time to fix the cracks in the faulty foundation and create a more fulfilling life, and a more structurally sound house of life for yourself.
So please hear me: whether you’re in your 30s or 40s (or any decade on either side), it is never too late to do the relational trauma recovery work that might make your life feel better, more connected, and more enlivened.
And if you would like support with this work, Psychology Today is a wonderful place to find a trauma therapist to support you in this work.
To find a therapist, please visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.