Life Advice



Ask Amy: Trauma survivor worries about a deep dive

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I am a successful woman in my early 30s.

I am currently happy in my life. I have a good job, I have both accomplishments in the past and aspirations for the future, I have a loving husband, I take care of myself and feel cared for in my day-to-day life.

But I also have some demons from the past that try and creep into the scene.

I experienced sexual abuse when I was a young child, had some very rough relationships in my young adult days, and most recently was in a very abusive relationship while I was in graduate school, five years ago.

I have gotten distance from these events, and I’m proud of the person I am today. But at the same time, I experience this incredible cognitive dissonance between these images of myself as a proud, confident, successful woman at the top of her game and this helpless, depressed, insecure woman at rock bottom. I feel disgusted by the second view of myself. Ashamed. Angry!

I see a therapist every week. But most of the time I am so ashamed to bring up these things, even though he is well aware of them, that I focus instead on my forward thrust, rather than my ugly past.


I worry that bringing up my past will re-ignite those traumas, and I’ll end up back in that scared rock-bottom place.

Where would I even start? Is it better to focus on the positive in front of you, or delve and dive into the ugliness behind you?

– Afraid to Rock the Boat

Dear Afraid: This is such a great question, and you could start by asking your therapist a “process” question: “Do you think it is better for me to continue to focus on my forward motion, or do I need to dive into my past trauma? It scares me to do that.”


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