Episode 85: The Five (5) Core Wounds, Part 2 with Alyssa Scolari, LPC
Episode 85: The Five (5) Core Wounds, Part 2 with Alyssa Scolari, LPC
Childhood trauma comes in a variety of different forms – no two trauma survivors have identical histories. However, what all trauma survivors have in common 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 last two (2) core wounds and how they manifest in adulthood (to hear about the first three (3) core wounds, please listen to episode 84). Alyssa also discusses how we can begin to heal from our core wounds.
**Every donation to Patreon for the month of March will go to Doctors Without Borders to help support those injured in Ukraine. Alyssa will personally match your donation. See the podcast Patreon and learn more about Doctors Without Borders below!**
Check out the Light After Trauma website for transcripts, other episodes, Alyssa’s guest appearances, and more at: www.lightaftertrauma.com
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Alyssa Scolari [00:23]:
Hi, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the Light After Trauma podcast. I’m your host, Alyssa Scolari. And welcome back to part two of the two part series that we are doing on the five core wounds. This episode was a huge hit. I loved it, and you all loved it too. We actually broke our record on the podcast, which is really exciting. So thank you so much. I’m really happy to be doing part two. I hope everybody’s having a good week. I’m having an okay week. I think personally, I’m doing well, but I don’t know. I feel very, very heavy this week emotionally. I think everything that’s going on in Ukraine is just really weighing on my soul. And I’ve been feeling pretty isolated as a therapist. There’s been so much going on and I people that are being so affected by it, my clients included, and it just feels it’s just very upsetting.
Alyssa Scolari [01:31]:
I don’t know what’s in the air, but there’s been lots of crises and just really difficult moments and just bouts of injustice after are injustice, and it’s hard to wrap my brain around. So I’m feeling rather heavy this week, and I’m just trying to work through those feelings. And I think the other issue that’s been coming up for me a lot is feeling helpless. I feel very effective as a therapist for the most part. I have my moments, of course, but I’m feeling pretty helpless when it comes to everything that’s happening in Ukraine. And I don’t know what to do. So I’ve been really trying to rack my brain on what I can do to help, if anything, because it’s very, very hard for me to sit here while other people are being so traumatized and just not do anything about it. So I actually think, what I’m going to do for the month of March is, if you become a patron on the Light After Trauma Patreon, whatever donation you make for the month of March is going to go directly to the efforts to help Ukraine.
Alyssa Scolari [02:52]:
And specifically, I am going to donate, or we are going to donate, to Doctors Without Borders. And Doctors Without Borders is this organization that works in conflict zones and they are partnering with Ukraine. They’re helping people travel to healthcare facilities. They are making sure that people have access to healthcare and medicine. So whatever you donate, the LinkedIn of the Patreon is in the show notes, so just go right into the show notes. And I’m also going to include the link for the Doctors Without Borders so you can check it out a little bit more if you want. But, go onto the Patreon, and whatever you are able to donate would be great. And whatever you donate, I personally am going to match. So if you donate $5, I’m going to donate $5. If you donate 50 cents, I’m going to donate 50 cents. So I feel like this is a really great way for us to just join in together as a family and help when we are otherwise feeling pretty helpless.
Alyssa Scolari [03:55]:
Now with that being said, if you are not able to give, that is totally fine. But if you are, hey, go right ahead. I feel like that would be a great way to contribute, a great way for us to help. And I will, of course, after the month of March announce how much we have donated to Doctors Without Borders. So again, head over to the link in the show notes, and you will find everything that you need there. And with that being said, let’s launch into part two today, which I’m pretty excited for. So if you haven’t listened to last week’s episode, you might want to go back and do that, because in that episode, we talk about the first three of the five core wounds, but we also talk about what the five core wounds are.
Alyssa Scolari [04:46]:
As a little recap, basically what the five core wounds are, childhood injuries, injuries to our soul, injuries to our brain. Every trauma survivor has a uniquely different story. No two trauma survivors have the same story, but all of our stories fall within the realm of these five core wounds. And last week, we talked about the first three being abandonment and rejection and betrayal. And we talked about what they are, how they can come about in childhood, and then what they manifest into in adulthood. This week, we are talking about the final two, which are humiliation and injustice. Now, we will start with humiliation. Now, humiliation, this can be felt as early as one to three years of age. And humiliation is [inaudible 00:05:50] exactly as it sounds, right? It is something that causes us to feel like we are bad. It’s that feeling of wanting to crawl under a rock and die. It’s belittling. And it comes out in a variety of different ways.
Alyssa Scolari [06:04]:
There are different types of humiliation. There’s, I guess you could say indirect and direct humiliation. Maybe the phrase is… And I’m making this up. This isn’t coming from anywhere, but I feel like it might be more accurate to say there’s aggressive forms of humiliation, and then more passive aggressive forms of humiliation. So let me give you some examples, right? So children who are humiliated are basically being told that they are bad if they do a certain thing, look a certain way, right? So if you get a C on your test at school and your parent says, “I didn’t raise no dumbass,” or “What are you? A moron. You got to C on a test in the third grade?” That is humiliation. You are calling your child a horrible thing, and then your child is then internalizing that and feeling as though there is something wrong with them. “I am stupid. I am a dumbass. I am a moron.” Now, school is just one of the many ways that humiliation can take shape, right?
Alyssa Scolari [07:30]:
A lot of humiliation also comes with potty training. If you wet the bed, if you miss the toilet, if you don’t do something right when it comes to your potty training, sometimes parents or caregivers or adults may scream, may scream at you, may call you names, and this can be very humiliating. It’s not so much the screaming that does it, although of course the screaming can be very traumatizing too, but that kind of borders more on rejection, I would say, but it’s typically what that parent is saying and their body language. They are so angry at you. They feel some kind of way about you, almost like they feel you are a failure and that you will never get this right. Lots of children tend to experience some of their first bouts of humiliation during the potty training process. And when I say lots of children, I probably should re-say that, because potty training is, some children, they never get humiliated. Most children don’t, I would think, but there are quite a few children out there who have been humiliated through potty training.
Alyssa Scolari [08:56]:
So with humiliation rates, sometimes it can just be very aggressive and very direct. “You’re a dumbass. You’re stupid. Why are you even bothering playing basketball? You sucked the whole time.” Humiliation can also look like the dad on the court. You’re five years old and you’re in your first basketball game or t-ball game or whatever, and your mom, dad, whoever is on the sideline screaming at you, because you’re not fast enough, you’re not strong enough, other people are better than you. And this happens. I’m sure so many of you can relate to this. Humiliation, for me, did not happen when it comes to playing sports, because honestly, I never stood a chance in sports, but it does happen, and it is very, very devastating.
Alyssa Scolari [09:45]:
And then there’s more passive aggressive humiliation. And sometimes that comes in the form of people who think they’re trying to help you or people who are teasing you. So let me give you a few examples. I’m going to give you some personal examples. People used a lot of passive aggressive humiliation with me with my weight, right? Nobody in my family ever screamed at me for being overweight or outright told me that I was fat and lazy and this, that, and all the other negative connotations that this fatphobic world has against children or adults who are overweight. But I was a pretty chunky child. I had a lot of meat on my bones. I look at pictures of me now and I’m like, “Oh my God, I was adorable. I can’t believe people called me fat as a kid.”
Alyssa Scolari [10:48]:
I was freaking so cute. I can’t even stand it, but I digress. But basically, I have distinct memories of parties, family parties. A family member, and I’m going to try hard not to out anybody here, but a family member who is no longer… She’s no longer alive. When I would go to reach for food at the table, she would take my hand and kind of pull my hand away from the food, not aggressively by any means. It was kind of in a loving manner. And she would go, “Oh, don’t be a little świnia. Now, for those of you who are not Polish and don’t know what świnia means, it means pig. So I was a little girl going to get some food and I would be told, “Oh, don’t be a little piggy.” And the way it was said was almost like it came off in an endearing term, right?
Alyssa Scolari [11:45]:
It’s like, “Oh, I love you and I care about you, and I don’t want you to be a little świnia,” but the impact was… I was freaking humiliated, because it was said in front of everybody else who was at the table, and it was horrifying. As another example, I remember this was maybe 10 years ago. I was at a bridal shower, and I was in the throws. Was it? It was maybe a little… Eh, it was about 10 years ago, maybe a little less. I was in the throws of my anorexia. I was a very, very low weight, a weight that I think for the people in my family thought was great. People were praising me all the time, but I was probably the sickest I’ve ever been in my life. And there was a bridal shower that I was at. And I was there, I was wearing this dress, everybody was complimenting me, telling me that I looked so beautiful, that they were so proud of me because I had lost all this weight. Oh, it makes my blood boil just thinking about it.
Alyssa Scolari [12:55]:
But basically what happened is, the dessert came out and I got up to go get a piece of cake. Now, I walked all the way across this room that we were in, and this room was massive, and I grabbed a plate with a piece of cake on it. And as I went to grab the cake, I heard this person from across the room, a family member, yell at me and she went, “You better drop that cake on the table because you don’t want to gain back all that weight you lost.” And everybody heard, and I was mortified. Again. I was a little bit older, but it opened up that already core wound that I had of humiliation. And she thought she was helping me. She didn’t mean it in a mean way. She wasn’t being aggressive. I mean, she was screaming, because hey, we’re Italian, and that’s what we do, we scream. But she thought that she was doing a great thing. She was like, “You got to keep that weight off. You’re doing so great.” Humiliated. I cannot even begin to tell you. I will never ever forget it. It was horrifying.
Alyssa Scolari [14:12]:
But also as a kid, I got made fun of not just for my weight, and made fun of/humiliated not just for my weight, but for the way I looked in other ways. Even something that might be as seemingly innocent as… I looked very different from the rest of my family. I’m very fair skinned, whereas a lot of the family members that I grew up with are really, really dark skin, dark hair. I’m really, really fair. So I used to be told all the time that the milk man dropped me off. And I was little. And my older cousins and stuff, they would say this to me, and I would sob and be so embarrassed and humiliated because they would then go on to be like, “Oh yeah, you don’t really belong with this family. You weren’t wanted, so just the milkman dropped you off.” And I was little. I believed that, and it was horrible for me.
Alyssa Scolari [15:10]:
And then also, because I was so fair, again, I was with a bunch of family members who had very, very dark complexions, and then there’s me over here. And they would say, even just at the dinner table, somebody would look over at me and be like, “Hey, where are your eyebrows? I can’t even see your eyebrows. Do you even have them? Do you think they’ll even grow in? Do you think you’ll get them?” It was kind of in just a light teasing sort of way, but why? Why? Because to this day, I am extremely self conscious about my eyebrows. And when I look in the mirror, I wonder if anybody else can even see my eyebrows. It has become such a part of my body dysmorphia.
Alyssa Scolari [16:01]:
Now, of course, if my family, the people who said these things to me were to listen to this, they’d be like, “Oh my God, you’re so sensitive. You’re making such a big deal out of it.” And that would be gaslighting, right? Because that’s the thing, people who use humiliation as a form of relating or communication, especially adults to children, they’re always like, “Oh, it was just a joke. What a sensitive kid. She can’t take a joke. He can’t take a joke. They can’t take a joke.” But that’s not at all the case, right? If you have some of these similar experiences, this is humiliation, right? This is a core wound, and it is devastating. I have so much experience with this. I could honestly go all hunt all day. I will spare you, but parents and adults foster just this horrible fear in children that they are forever going to be criticized and that they will forever have disapproval and that they aren’t good enough.
Alyssa Scolari [17:10]:
And when we become adults and we have this core wound of humiliation, it can go really one of two ways. Some people who have a core wound of humiliation end up being narcissists. They end up having a lot of narcissistic traits, and they can also be people who then go on to humiliate others. On the other hand, you can have people who become extremely dependent when they get older, people who feel like they constantly need the approval of others. This is something that I struggle with. Even in my profession, it took me a long time to be able to make decisions in my job and not feel like I immediately needed to call my supervisor right away and ask if I did the right thing. I was sort of dependent on the opinions of others and the approval of others to be able to function. I don’t do that anymore, but I had to work so hard on knowing that I am okay as I am and that I don’t need the approval of others.
Alyssa Scolari [18:29]:
If I would go out and I didn’t have at least one person tell me that I was cute or looked great, I would feel humiliated. I would come home and I would dive right back into my eating disorder and feel like, “Oh my gosh, everybody hated me. They must have thought I looked ugly, X, Y, Z.” Again, I had a ton of internalized fatphobia back then. I was extremely unwell. I’m being honest about how I was. I’ve worked on these things, so I don’t do that anymore, but that is another way in which humiliation can show up in adulthood. So that is a heavy one, so take a deep breath if you need it, as we transition into this last one.
Alyssa Scolari [19:16]:
Now this last one is the fear of injustice. And this one is probably one of the lesser talked about of the five core wounds. This one isn’t quite a self explanatory as the others, and it’s a little deceiving based off of the name. But basically, injustice is when during your childhood, you had excessive demands that were pushed onto you by your caregiver, parent, guardian, whoever. So for example, let’s say that you’re the oldest and you have two younger siblings. And you’re eight years old, seven years old, and you are being forced by your caregiver, your parent to take care of your younger siblings, right? Mom, dad, whoever goes to work all day and you’re left at home, at eight years old, to change diapers, feed, play with your siblings, take care of them when you’re truly just a child yourself, right?
Alyssa Scolari [20:21]:
And your parents aren’t necessarily really understanding, and they’re just like, “You got to do this. This is part of what being the older sibling is.” It’s excessive amounts of responsibility, too much responsibility with very little compassion and awareness and acknowledgement from the parent, meaning your parents or caregivers are very authoritarian and ice colds. They are very much not about your feelings. They don’t really care about you getting your emotional needs met. They put a lot of pressure on you, even to meet your own physical needs and the physical needs of your siblings or whoever else is in the home, or maybe you grew up in a house where your dad was an alcoholic and he was unable to function or provide for the family and your mom made you go to work early, go to work illegally, right? When early, I mean, go to work when you’re young, right?
Alyssa Scolari [21:25]:
Go to work, make money, support the family. Maybe you were also mom’s emotional spouse, where instead of confiding in your father about her emotions, she would then turn to you because your father isn’t available. Things like that create this core wound of injustice, and it causes a lot of mistrust in the world around you. It also causes this hyper-dependency, but also at the same time, core feelings of ineffectiveness and uselessness. Honestly, because when you are having such excessive demands as a child, you begin to feel like you’re never good enough, because truthfully, you are not developed enough to even try to meet the demands of your caregivers. I hope that is making sense. For example, if you’re in the fourth grade and you’re eight years old, how are you supposed to be expected to take care of yourself, show up at school, be fully rested, and then also come home and take care of your two younger siblings, right?
Alyssa Scolari [22:38]:
So then let’s say you go to school and you’re falling asleep at school all the time and your teacher sends home a note to your parent that you’re falling asleep in school and your parents screams at you and tells you that you need to get it together and that you shouldn’t be falling asleep in school instead of taking a moment to reflect, “Well, why is my child falling asleep in school? What do I think I could do as a parent to support my child?” The blame is pushed onto you, and you alone as the kid. It would be completely possible to expect that you would have all these demands on you at home, and then be able to function in school, but your parent doesn’t see that. Your parent expects that out of you anyway. So then all your life, you are expecting the impossible from yourself. And because nobody’s perfect, we can never live up to that expectation. Therefore, as much as we need independence and perfectionism, we still feel at our core that we will never be good enough and that everything we do isn’t effective and that we ultimately are useless.
Alyssa Scolari [23:47]:
So, that was a lot. I hope that is making sense, but basically, as you become an adult, those feelings sort of stay the same. Adults tend to just be really, really dependent. They are extremely rigid, and they are extreme perfectionistic. They have a lot of difficulty making decisions for fear of making the wrong one because they believe they’re ineffective and ultimately will make the wrong one. They have a huge mistrust of other people because they have been taking care of everything their whole lives, but they also really don’t trust themselves. It’s a really, really scary and difficult place to be in as an adult. And as you can imagine, it makes getting into relationships, even friendships, even if we’re not talking about romantic relationships, it makes all interactions that aren’t superficial very, very difficult.
Alyssa Scolari [24:51]:
So those are the five core wounds. And one of the natural next questions would be, okay, so we know about these core wounds. We’ve gotten justice, we’ve got betrayal, we’ve got humiliation, rejection, and abandonment. Well, what do we do about that? What do we do? Unfortunately, that’s really not a question that I can answer, that’s very black and white, right? Because everybody heals from their core wounds in different ways. But I will say this, I think that understanding and acknowledging is the first half of the battle. And that’s part of why we’re doing this episode, because I don’t think a lot of people are even aware that core wounds exist. And if we don’t know it, we can’t heal it. If we can’t feel it, we can’t fix it. Oy, I sound like such a cheesy therapist now. Geez, somebody make me stop, but I’m serious, right? In all seriousness, we really need to be aware, and awareness is really the first step in healing.
Alyssa Scolari [26:04]:
And I don’t know what healing might look like. For me, healing has looked like not so much therapy, I guess. And I’m in therapy, right? That’s no secret. I love therapy, but there’s only so much that I think that can be done with talking about these core wounds. I’m very aware of what my core wounds are and I could talk about it in therapy, but I’ve sort of been in a place over the last couple of years… Well, ever since I started working with the therapist I have now, I’ve been in a place where I’m ready to really start to try to heal those wounds. Now, I feel like those wounds will always be sore spots. I’m always going to have some sensitive or tender scar tissue around those wounds, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to drive my actions for the rest of my life.
Alyssa Scolari [27:03]:
And one way, for me, that I have been able to stop these core wounds from controlling my life is by putting myself out there and forcing myself to do the opposite of what comes naturally to me. That’s part of the reason why this podcast even exists, because I am so good at being a therapist that sometimes I forget how to be a client. And I’m not saying that I’m being a client by doing this podcast, but I am very vulnerable here, and vulnerability does not come easy for me. And I am putting my trauma and my pain out there into the world. And it’s, whoo, it gives me chills as I even say it, because every once in a while I’ll have this voice in my head be like, “Alyssa, what the fuck are you doing? Why are you sharing this?” Right? But I’m sharing this because it’s not in my nature, because my core wounds tell me that I’m not allowed to speak, because I came from family members who always said, “Don’t air your dirty laundry.” But my laundry isn’t dirty. I’m not dirty. My issues aren’t dirty.
Alyssa Scolari [28:33]:
Everybody struggles, everybody. So this is me pushing myself past my limits, past what I’ve been taught, past what I know, and trying to myself that it is okay, it is okay to speak, and that, airing your dirty laundry is just another way to add shame to mental health issues and adds to the stigma. And again, I don’t blame anybody for telling me that. I don’t think the people who told me that knew any better, but I know better now, so I can do better. So, so much of what has helped my healing is to just push myself and talk about it in therapy, but then I try to live it in my life. This fear of abandonment that I have, that core wound is huge for me.
Alyssa Scolari [29:27]:
It shows up in every way, shape, or form in my life. It shows up in ways that I still have difficulty talking about, but I still put myself out there. I still do my best to make friends. I do my best to communicate if these triggers are coming up for me. And I also do my best to try to sit with those feelings and label them for what they are, because I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe that when you label something for what it is and you see something for what it truly is, it takes the power away. Right? If I’m able to say what I’m feeling right now is a fear of abandonment because my friend has not texted me back in seven days, and I think that she hates me and that she’s going to leave me probably because of something stupid I said in my last text. Right? If I’m able to look at that thought pattern and I can say, “Ooh, this is my abandonment stuff, and this is definitely coming from my core wound,” suddenly things feel a lot more manageable, a lot more manageable.
Alyssa Scolari [30:49]:
So those are some things that I do to help. I just keep on putting myself out there and making myself vulnerable. It’s scary. It’s terrifying. It’s horrifying. I’ve got a lot of work to do still, but hey, don’t we all. Don’t we all. And of course, therapy. I don’t want to minimize therapy. Therapy helps so much, and it has helped me so much too. I just, I think in a place right now where I’m ready to put what I’ve learned in therapy and what I’m talking about in therapy into action in the real world. And if you’re not there yet, that’s fine. One of the first things you can do is really start identifying which of these core wounds do you have, if any of them. Maybe you have all of them. What do you relate to? What stings the most for you?
Alyssa Scolari [31:41]:
And I feel like writing about that, journaling can also be really, really helpful. So I hope that this episode was another helpful one for you. I’ve really loved talking about these core wounds. If you are enjoying what you are hearing, please leave a rating or review for the podcast. It means so much and helps the podcast grow. And again, in order to help with the efforts in Ukraine, anybody who becomes a Patreon member for the month of March and makes a donation, I will match that donation. And all of those proceeds will go to Doctors Without Borders. They are helping with medical aid in Ukraine. So my Patreon link is in the show notes, and the Doctors Without Borders link is in the show notes. And if you are a Patreon member, or if you become a Patreon member, you also are able to request specific episode topics.
Alyssa Scolari [32:42]:
So if there is a topic that you want me to speak about that I have not spoken about yet, or one that you want me to do again, but a little differently, if you are a Paton member, you can request that. So I hope that everybody has a great week. I am sending so much love to you all. I am holding you in the light. And I will see you next week.
Alyssa Scolari [33:05]:
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.