Learning how to recover from emotional abuse takes a tremendous amount of inner strength – more than people who’ve never suffered emotional abuse can imagine.

The kind of emotional abuse we’re talking about here was experienced through the eyes, ears, and sensations of an innocent child.

Over time, it’s easy to forget how deep the pain cut; how shocking it was to a child’s understanding. It is this original, traumatic pain that gets buried. This is the pain that flashes back once we’re adults, hijacking our mind and body.

The origin of the pain and the sheer velocity and force with which it returns represents a replay of the original shock. Depending on the severity, it can stop you in your tracks.

This formula shows how to recover from emotional abuse

This is the main lesson I learned in the book The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk M.D. 

Here’s the scenario. Imagine that you’ve got a plethora of painful memories stored in some dark corner of your brain. As long as they remain in their original state – frozen in time – they will come back to haunt you whenever they’re triggered.

To recover, both your mind and body must learn that these memories and everything they represent is over. Not theoretically over. Over and done with completely!

You will know when your mind and body know this because you will no longer experience the residual stress that comes from these memories in their raw, unprocessed form.

Essentially, we want to re-experience the overwhelming trauma (trauma that was experienced as overwhelming at the time) while maintaining our present, adult mind. When you re-experience the memory without becoming overwhelmed, your perspective changes. The mind and body update a bit and now you know it’s over.