Episode 84: The Five (5) Core Wounds, Part 1 with Alyssa Scolari, LPC
Episode 84: The Five (5) Core Wounds, Part 1 with Alyssa Scolari, LPC
Childhood trauma comes in a variety of different forms – no two trauma survivors have identical histories. What we do have in common, however, are experiences with the five core wounds that have led to depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health disorders. In this episode Alyssa talks about the first three (3) core wounds and how they manifest in adulthood.
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Alyssa Scolari [00:23]:
Hi, beautiful people, welcome back to another episode of the Light After Trauma Podcast. As you know, I’m your host, Alyssa Scolari and we are talking about the five core wounds today. Now, before we dive in, I just want to take a minute to thank everybody for all of the feedback from my last episode, where I talked about how I’ve been healing post operation from my endometriosis surgery, and what that has brought up for me trauma wise, thank you for all of the love and the support, I really appreciate it. I continue to feel better every day. This week has been a little bit of a rough one. My husband’s step grandmother passed away and it’s just been really, really sad. And his grandfather who we love dearly has been really devastated. So they live about like three hours away from us. So we really just dropped everything and went up there when we found out that she was getting ready to pass and the services happened and the funeral services, and it’s been a lot.
Alyssa Scolari [01:39]:
His wife was, she was sick and we kind of were expecting this, but it really just doesn’t make it easier. Death is just so, so hard. So there’s been just a lot of grief and a lot of heavy feelings, but hey, overall, honestly, I cannot complain in terms of my recovery. I am just doing my best and I really just wanted to say thank you so much for all of the support.
Alyssa Scolari [02:10]:
So today I thought that I would talk about something that I find really fascinating, which is this idea of the five core wounds. And what does that mean? So I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it or not. Truthfully, I was aware of all these wounds, but I’ve never really had them like packaged together as like the five core wounds until very recently in the research that I was doing. And I was like, oh man, I really need to talk about this on the podcast. So this is going to be a two part episode because while it’s just five wounds, there’s kind of a lot to them. And I feel like it’s really heavy and I, of course, want everybody to learn, but it’s just a lot of information to take in. So I’m going to be splitting it up. I’m going to do the first three today and then next week I will do the last two and then we’ll talk about ways to heal from those core wounds.
Alyssa Scolari [03:18]:
So I guess the first question is what is a core wound? And that is basically a, it’s damage that’s been done, right? Mental health damage, so to speak, reparable damage, of course, but damage, nonetheless, that has been done in childhood. These are things that happen in childhood that ultimately can lead to a diagnosis or the development of complex PTSD. And we’ve talked about CPTSD a lot, and how it is really stems from things that have happened in childhood. And those things happen to be the five core wounds, right?
Alyssa Scolari [04:09]:
So things can happen, all different types of events, right? Maybe you experience a wound from sexual abuse while somebody else experiences a wound from a traumatic death in the family, right? So we can experience these wounds in all different ways, but at the end of the day, it is these basic five wounds that can contribute to depression, anxiety, PTSD, and things like that that can harm your relationships with yourself and others and just get in the way of you living your best life.
Alyssa Scolari [04:46]:
So really what I see talked about the most is abandonment. Abandonment is number one. And I’m sure at this point, you hear that and you’re probably like, “Ugh, I’m so over the word abandonment, it’s like been there, done that, heard about it.” And I get that. I think that abandonment is just really, I wouldn’t say overused, I would say misused, because I think that a lot of people label things as abandonment when it might not be abandonment, it might be one of the other core wounds. But abandonment is the one that everybody knows the most.
Alyssa Scolari [05:27]:
Now with that being said, if abandonment is what feels true to you personally, then of course, that’s your truth and who am I to say otherwise? But I just think in general, I’ve definitely seen it get misused. Like there’s another kind of wound that fits better. And I just think abandonment is what we default to. So I also should point out that these core wounds, we can experience all of them. To be perfectly honest, I was going through this list and I’ve been doing a lot of research on these core wounds to prepare for this episode. And I was like, oh crap, I am pretty sure I’ve experienced all of these.
Alyssa Scolari [06:18]:
And this episode again, I really want to point out, isn’t a place to blame on anybody in my life. I never… Listen, there are some people in my life who I absolutely will put blame on. Absolutely. I have certain people who I will not speak to anymore and that is my boundary and I hold them accountable for the things that they do. But I know that I share a lot of myself on here and sometimes I worry that I come across as like maybe blaming other people. I don’t know. I have really been thinking about this a lot lately. And so I know in my last couple episodes, I’ve really been intentional about saying that this isn’t a blame game, right. Because I know not just myself, I have family members out there that have been good to me and have really done right by me and if we haven’t always met eye to eye in the past or seen eye to eye in the past, we’ve come a long way and we’re good now.
Alyssa Scolari [07:22]:
So I never want to seem like I’m slandering anybody, but I also never wanted to seem like I’m faulting you as the listeners, because I know that you are parents, you are trauma survivors, you are caretaker. So I never wanted to see him like I’m blaming, right? This is educational. And I just wanted to put that out there.
Alyssa Scolari [07:48]:
So abandonment is exactly as it seems, right. It is the fear that people are going to leave. Well, it’s not so much the fear that people are going to leave, it is the act of people leaving you. Now, this is a little bit more complex than it seems, right? Because it’s not just, oh, my mom and dad got into the car one day and left and I was upset. They abandoned me and now I have this core wound. I wish it was as simple as that, but it is not.
Alyssa Scolari [08:21]:
Abandonment comes in many forms. It can look like a parent and keep in mind, I’m saying parent right now, but I also mean like primary caretakers as well. So it could be that a parent or a caretaker wasn’t there time after time to help you when you needed emotional help. It could be that nobody was there to teach you how to do certain things, meet certain milestones in your life, right? Ride your bike, learn how to use a knife a fork, and a spoon when you’re eating at the table. Helping you potty train.
Alyssa Scolari [09:02]:
Abandonment is about people showing up for you to help you get your needs met in terms of like the milestones, right? When we look at developmental psychology, kids have milestones that they meet. They are potty trained and they learn how to use utensils and they learn how to talk. And then they learn how to communicate. And then they learn how to pick up on body language. It’s like kids meet these milestones but what helps kids to meet these milestones is the adults in their lives who are helping them, who are pointing them in that direction. And it is really harmful when we as kids are having to do it alone and figure these things out for ourselves, when we look at adoption trauma.
Alyssa Scolari [09:57]:
And this is not something I’ve touched on, but I do work with many kids and adults who are adopted. And if we’re talking about adoption trauma, a lot of times kids will come from orphanages, where in the first year or two of their lives, they weren’t held, they weren’t coddled, they weren’t nurtured. And then they grow up with this chronic and constant fear that nobody in their lives is ever going to stay. That nobody’s ever going to love them enough to stay and not leave.
Alyssa Scolari [10:36]:
So it’s not necessarily like a one off incident, right? Like I mentioned the whole bike riding thing. If your mom or dad or caretaker aren’t around to help you learn how to ride your bike and you had to teach yourself, that necessarily isn’t going to trigger a core wound, right? That’s not really going to create the wound. What kind of creates this wound of abandonment is when it becomes a pattern, when it becomes habitual, right? That it’s like, I was never held when I was little.
Alyssa Scolari [11:12]:
And we know that babies will die at times when they are not given the nurturing that they need. We know how important that is, but it’s a pattern of behavior, right? I wasn’t held when I was little, I wasn’t nurtured. And then it took me… Nobody ever helped potty train me and nobody ever helped teach me how to feed myself, how to use kitchen utensils. Nobody ever helped teach me how to do homework. I never learned how to clean. I had to figure all these things out for myself. That can be where the abandonment comes up sometimes because there are other examples of abandonment too.
Alyssa Scolari [11:55]:
For example, abandonment can also look like a parent just walking out of your life. There are so many people out there who had a parent who just up and left or a parent who was never involved. That is abandonment because you know what, if you’re a parent and you get up and you walk away and you walk out of your kid’s life, well guess what? You’re not going to be there to help them through any of those milestones that they needed you for. So that is abandonment in itself.
Alyssa Scolari [12:28]:
Abandonment also can look like somebody passing away and it can get a little more complex there because I think that a lot of people think like, but it’s not abandonment, that person died. And a lot of people actually have a lot of guilt and shame about feeling abandoned when a loved one passes away. So it’s not talked about as much, but honestly, underneath those surfaces, part of grief is also like working through those feelings of abandonment. If a parent has died, doesn’t matter if they were there to teach you all through many of your milestones, but if you’re a child and a parent dies, you could absolutely be wounded in an abandonment sense. There are other examples of abandonment. Of course, I could go on all day, but I think you get the general idea.
Alyssa Scolari [13:29]:
Now, people who have been abandoned in some way, shape or form, really develop this intense fear of loneliness. They hate being alone. But the kicker is loneliness is something that they’re used to. That’s what they’re familiar with. So they are terrified of being left, but in the same sense, they also can push people away and can take action subconsciously to cause somebody to end up leaving, which then makes them feel abandoned again, thus reliving the cycle, repeating the cycle and reliving the abandonment in childhood. So it’s very, very difficult but the core fear here is loneliness. And that fear has developed because as a child, you were used to doing everything by yourself anyway, you had to figure it out alone anyway.
Alyssa Scolari [14:32]:
So as an adult, when people come into your life, you are terrified that they are going to leave, or sometimes, you might want them to leave so that you don’t have to even deal with the fear, right? What does this look like in adulthood? So this can look like the person who’s been fiercely independent, who never dates, never gets into relationships. And it’s just like, I don’t need anybody. I don’t want anybody, not always, some people are very happy on their own and that’s completely fine. But sometimes that can look like a person who has a chronic fear of abandonment.
Alyssa Scolari [15:11]:
In adulthood, abandonment can also look like somebody who has a really insecure attachment. So maybe they get into a relationship or they develop a friendship, but they’re always like, “Are you going to leave me? Are you going to leave me?” Or they’re always like very, very anxious, right? Like, “What are you thinking? Are you mad at me? Are you going to do something? Are we breaking up? Do you still want to be my friend? Do you think I’m a good person?” They are seeking constant validation and reassurance. And even if you, as the partner on the other end, give them that validation and reassurance, it still likely isn’t going to be enough.
Alyssa Scolari [15:51]:
So abandonment really affects relationships with other people. Most often romantic relationships, but also friendships too. Abandonment is a huge core wound. And I absolutely feel this one. It’s funny because I actually, I am really, I’ve been debating whether or not I want to share the ways in which my core wound of abandonment has shown up. And I don’t really think I feel quite ready to do that right now, but suffice it to say that I definitely feel this. And it has shown up in my adulthood pretty much exactly the way that I just described. I struggled so much and still do with an insecure attachment. I’m so much better now because I’ve had so much therapy and I’ve worked on it so much, but I just had this fear of people leaving me.
Alyssa Scolari [17:05]:
I mean, to the point where like, even in high school, when I would get close with teachers, I would be really sad. In high school, I had teachers who were cool, I would hang out with, like I would hang out after school. I was involved in lots of different things at school. So I just developed relationships with my teachers, appropriate professional relationships, right. Not professional, but appropriate student teacher relationships. And we’d hang out and we’d chit chat and I’d talk about my life.
Alyssa Scolari [17:33]:
And even at the end of the school year, I was sad because I felt like these teachers were leaving me. Now, of course, they weren’t and that was just part of life. But it was a result of my core wound. And then, of course, even today I still struggle. I still struggle with feeling like, if my husband and I get into an argument, or we’re not seeing eye to eye on things, I’m sort of like, oh my gosh, this is the end of our marriage. It’s over. He’s going to leave me. He’s not going to want me. I really do struggle with all of those thoughts coming back to the surface despite the fact that it’s very normal to argue and we get through all of our arguments and we’re fine.
Alyssa Scolari [18:22]:
My brain loves to tell me otherwise, my brain loves to be like, huh, he looked at you kind of weird today. He’s probably thinking about how he’s going to abandon us tonight. Really that’s literally what my brain does. And we laugh about it when it comes up for me, I’ll say it to my husband and then we kind of like call it what it is. And we make a joke about it and we laugh about it. But the truth of the matter is that that abandonment doesn’t have as much of a hold on my life anymore because I’ve worked through it. But honestly, when you’re in it, it is the worst feeling in the world. And I know so many of you can relate.
Alyssa Scolari [19:05]:
Now, the next one is fear of rejection. And this one is also a really hard one for me. Now, fear of rejection, it’s pretty self explanatory. That’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s the fear of being rejected. And this can happen really from the moment of conception and being born. This can manifest if, as a mom, if you are struggling really bad with postpartum depression or you’re really, really sick after giving birth and you can’t hold your baby, rejection can manifest in that way.
Alyssa Scolari [19:43]:
Again, babies need a lot of nurturing. And if their moms are there, it’s a little bit different than abandonment, because it’s like, I haven’t been left, I see my parents are here, but I’m not getting what I need, right. That’s how it kind of looks like early on, early infancy type. But then as you get older, right, rejection can also look like parents who are not accepting of who you are. We see this so much in children who show early signs of, I don’t even want to say signs, I guess I should say children who try to play with toys or try to do things that don’t fit within their gender norm. So if a child is born and that their sex is male and they’re four, five, six years old, and they’re playing Barbie dolls. Barbie dolls is a traditionally feminine, again, screw gender norms, because I don’t believe in any of that, but it’s a traditionally feminine toy. Barbie dolls are.
Alyssa Scolari [20:57]:
So it can look like the parents that are like, “Get rid of those Barbie dolls. You’re like a little sissy. You’re going to look like a girl or boys who want to wear dresses.” Or, girls who want to play with trucks, right? All these things are traditionally feminine, masculine, and God forbid, kids cross over. And girls like trucks and boys like dresses, heaven forbid. Again, I don’t agree with this, but when parents are not accepting, that manifests rejection and rejection can look in adulthood, it can look like the person who suppresses so much of who they are.
Alyssa Scolari [21:41]:
Sometimes it can be somebody who suppresses themselves, but still hangs out with people and is very social, right? So this person, the person in your life who you see and you talk to, but you feel like you can never quite really get to know because they keep so much of who they really are hidden from the world, right. Or it can look like that person who never socializes, who really has withdrawn and has isolated themselves because they are so fearful of being rejected again. It also can look like somebody who has a really difficult time taking feedback and Lord, oh Lord, I am absolutely that person. Or should I say I was that person because I’m actually really good at taking feedback now. But I had a really hard time.
Alyssa Scolari [22:40]:
If you work in a company and you have like your performance evaluation, right? Some people have like performance evaluation and then get nervous. Of course, that’s very natural. But the people who have core wounds of rejection will be absolutely beside themselves over something like a performance evaluation. And some of them will avoid it altogether and never go and never show up and then take whatever punishment they get from work because the punishment that they will get from not showing up is easier than the feelings that they would have if they were to attend that performance evaluation and get rejected in some way, shape or form.
Alyssa Scolari [23:26]:
And if you have a performance evaluation and it’s out of five stars, you get four stars. And you have one, one mild to moderate area for improvement. So people who don’t have this core wound, they look at that and they go, “Okay, I did really, really great. I did great. And I’m going to con continue to work on this one thing. And that’s awesome.” But the people who have this core wound of rejection, it is the end of the world. And I mean that very literally. If whenever I got rejected or perceived rejection, because the truth of the matter is I wasn’t rejected. When I first started out as a therapist, I would have supervision. And I would be told the ways in which I could improve. Now that is not rejection, but I absolutely perceived it as rejection, absolutely. And I would become so flooded with shame and it would ruin my day and I would cry and I would be so embarrassed. And I wouldn’t want to look at my boss.
Alyssa Scolari [24:38]:
Now, a little caveat here, right. My boss at the time really didn’t have the best way of saying things. So she was very blunt with me, which I don’t think helped. But honestly, even if she had sugar coated everything that she said to me, I still would’ve been a disaster, right. Some people sugarcoat things, some people don’t. I don’t really sugarcoat things, but I do try to say them in a way that I know is not going to be so super hurtful. My boss really didn’t care enough to do that at the time. So I just felt horrible afterwards. And like I said, even if she did care enough to speak to me in a much more respectful manner, it still probably wouldn’t have mattered because of my core wound of rejection. People who have a core wound of rejection can also look like perfectionist, right. Which is me to a T. I was a perfectionist my whole life. I don’t really think I am as much anymore, but it is really because I so deeply feared rejection because it is one of my core wounds.
Alyssa Scolari [25:49]:
So next, we have the fear of betrayal. This is a really tough one. I mean, they’re all really tough, but the core wound is the betrayal here. And this can start anywhere from between like two to four years of age. Whereas abandonment and rejection can start much earlier. Betrayal can start a little bit later, like between two to four years and up. And really what this is in its purest form is a lack of trust in your caregiver or parent. And this can happen in a number of ways. This can look like finding out that a parent has been lying, right? Kids snoop, kids are sneaky. I cannot tell you the number of children I have worked with that have walked into my office and been like, “So I found out last night that my dad has been cheating on my mom or that my mom has been cheating on my dad and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
Alyssa Scolari [27:00]:
Like that can manifest as a core wound of betrayal because that child is seeing that, seeing that adult or caregiver or parent behave in dishonest ways and that child can no longer trust the parent. This happens so much with abuse, so much with abuse. Parents who are physically abusive, who hit, who try to use fear to gain control over their kids, right? Like let me get the belt. I’m going to go get that belt. I’ll give you something to cry about if you don’t stop crying or kids who come home from school and maybe they had a bad day and their parents are like, “You don’t know what it’s like to have a bad day. You have it easy. Wait until you see what it’s like when you’re an adult.” That is creating mistrust.
Alyssa Scolari [27:59]:
You as a parent are teaching your kid or as a caretaker are teaching the child that you cannot confide in me because I am only going to hurt you when you are vulnerable or if it’s like the cheating circumstance, you cannot confide in me, you cannot trust me because I am doing things that are wrong. I am not acting in alignment with the morals I am trying to teach you.
Alyssa Scolari [28:28]:
Betrayal, of course, can also come in sexual abuse. That is one of the ultimate forms of betrayal. It can come in so many ways, right. Which is why I always promote transparency with parents and kids. A lot of parents feel like I shouldn’t tell my kid this. And I feel like, yes, but if your child is asking or if they’re snooping, then it’s probably time to talk to them.
Alyssa Scolari [29:02]:
For example, I’ve seen a lot of parents and caretakers be dishonest with kids about how maybe a loved one has passed. If a loved one has passed in a way that is like shameful or, not shameful because there’s no way of dying that is shameful. But what I mean is like stigmatized as being shameful in society, right? So let’s say that a parent passes away and the other parent tells the kid like, “Mommy died from.” I don’t know, whatever it could be, right? Mommy died in a car accident or mommy died of a heart attack when the reality is that mommy died from a drug overdose or a suicide, that can manifest in betrayal.
Alyssa Scolari [29:55]:
Now again, if your child isn’t asking, “Well, how did mommy die?” Then that’s your sign that your child isn’t ready to know. Kids will ask and when they ask that means that they are ready to hear, even if it might be painful. So lying and trying to keep that lie, all that does is manifest betrayal because then that child will find out, because kids find out everything. If I have learned nothing from working with kids over the years, I know that they just know everything, they really do.
Alyssa Scolari [30:34]:
So no, that can be a very controversial topic. I feel very strongly about it. A lot of the new research coming out on parenting, they also feel very strongly about it. Lying to your kids about things like that can manifest in betrayal. So there’s all different ways betrayal can manifest as with any of the other core wounds, but it creates a deep, deep sense of mistrust in one self and in the world. And this can come out in adulthood as somebody who is extremely controlling and somebody who again, might not be able to get into relationships because they don’t trust other people or they get into relationships and they feel the need to control that person, right? Like I need to have your passwords, your Snapchat password, Instagram password. You need to give me access to your phone 24/7.
Alyssa Scolari [31:32]:
No, I’m not saying that transparency with social media is a bad thing, I think it’s a good thing, but there’s a difference between a healthy transparency and somebody who’s being controlling and is like, “Give me your phone right now, I’m going through it. I want to see what’s going on. I don’t trust you.” Without really any kind of like rhyme or reason, right? So betrayal can look like that, or it can look like the person who just avoids relationships all together. As we can see with these core wounds so far, they all deeply affect our relationship with ourselves and others, especially romantic relationships. These core wounds can have a huge, huge impact on our adulthood, which is why we are talking about them today.
Alyssa Scolari [32:26]:
So that is a lot. I’m going to stop for today. I’m going to pick this back up next week. I actually really enjoy talking about this because I feel like we can all relate. Feelings of betrayal for me personally, I can relate, but I don’t think that this one is as relatable for me as rejection and abandonment, but I also tend to believe that the betrayal one is truly one of the most harmful ones. All of these core wounds by the way, we can fix, you can heal, you can get better. We are going to talk about that in next week’s episode.
Alyssa Scolari [33:10]:
So I hope that you enjoyed this today. We’ll be back next week with part two, where we talk about the last two and then some ways to be able to heal from these core wounds, right? The last two are fear of humiliation and injustice, fear of injustice. And so we’re going to talk about that next week. And if you have any questions, you know where to find me. As a friendly reminder, if you would like any special requests for episode topics, you certainly can feel free to request a topic. If you are a Patreon member. So our Patreon is at the link in the show notes. So please feel free to go over and check that out. And if you haven’t done so already, please give us a follow on Instagram. The handle is light after trauma. I am holding you all on the light. I am sending you all so much love and I will be back again next week. Take care everybody.
Alyssa Scolari [34:07]:
Thanks for listening everyone. For more information, please head over to lightaftertrauma.com or you can also follow us on social media. On Instagram, we are @lightaftertrauma and on Twitter it is @lightafterpod. Lastly, please head over to patreon.com/lightaftertrauma. To support our show, we are asking for $5 a month, which is the equivalent to a cup of coffee at Starbucks. So please head on over again, that’s patreon.com/lightaftertrauma. Thank you and we appreciate your support.
Alyssa Scolari [34:43]: