About Ricia Fleming

For a long time I denied myself healing because I believed I hadn’t suffered enough.  Although I’m an educator with a doctoral degree and a therapist with enough experience to recognize the signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, just thinking of myself as a trauma survivor turned off my compassionate professional assessment and turned on a taunting voice inside me that sneered:

 Sticks and stones will break my bones,
  But names will never hurt me.

I wanted a ferocious validating authority to take me by the shoulders, look me firmly in the eye, and say, “Sure, nobody in your family drank, or incested you, or beat you up. Still, you act and think and feel like somebody who was traumatized for the simple reason that you were traumatized, really subtly, over and over, by people who meant really well.”

It took 15 years, much research and soul searching to develop that validating authority within myself. Those critics who say “if it wasn’t physically violent, it wasn’t trauma,” no longer intimidate me. I’ve corrected that children’s rhyme so it feels true:

 No sticks, no stones, no broken bones
 But something traumatized me.

     Now I am convinced that what I have come to call Chronic Covert Trauma is a real phenomenon with consequences that desperately need to be addressed. My imaginary ferocious validating champion has mellowed into an assured Chronic Covert Trauma-validating professional who is now here to help you.

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4 thoughts on “About Ricia Fleming

  1. This is Me exactly, but I am still having a hard time validating my own pain. I want something big and concrete to hang all my hurts and issues on. It’s really hard to let anger and sadness out when I feel it was just me misinterpreting many situations. I so desperately want something else to blame for the way I feel because as it stands, all I blame is myself. I hear people say I don’t have to blame myself but I still do. There aren’t a whole lot of words to use when letting anger out, there aren’t many events, that feel legit, to talk about, but I still feel like shit.

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    • Thank you so much for responding, Nicole. I’m new to connecting with people via the internet this way, and you are helping me to make connections with other people who resonate with this peculiar problem of feeling that somehow the pain we find ourselves feeling is not legitimate. You express yourself so clearly, especially about feeling that somehow there needs to be “something big and concrete”. I love that video of Ed Tronick’s still face experiment because it shows how devastating little subtle things can be. Have you found anything that helps you get the validation you need?

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      • Thanks for the reply. I also liked the video, it was pretty powerful and proved a point. As far as getting the validation that I need, I am working on that right now. I am currently in therapy for the first time and am dealing with attachment wounds. Saying exactly how I feel to my therapist has been really helpful, even if I am sure he will think of me negatively for it. It helps to get out all of my thoughts that I never have shared with people because of how it would make me look. This topic is one that I start to begin to think I can validate myself, and then the next minute I am questioning myself again. Affirmations help a lot too but I have to be pretty proactive with them. I personally think it will just take time to unravel all of my defenses I have built up over my life, and this struggle to validate myself is a pretty big defense for me. Is there anything specific you have done to validate trauma?

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      • Hi again. Validation is such a big challenge in dealing with these chronic covert traumas of early attachment. Sometimes I think of just calling it “The Validation Cure.” Sometimes it’s still difficult for me to continue validating the big long-term impact of these “little” things, and I agree that it does take a lot of time and persistence in the face of internal and external invalidation. Like feeling that “it’s no big deal” or badgering oneself to “just get over it”, and so on. If you have found someone to listen attentively and caringly to the hurts of your attachment history, that’s great! It should give you the double benefit of a good relationship in the present and a chance to address and grieve and heal the past. For me, little things even in a good relationship, could trigger a flashback to those “little” chronic covert trauma moments, and pretty much derail me from graceful, rational relating in the present. Which could be pretty threatening to the good present relationship.

        Reminding myself that having these derailing flashbacks is the way trauma impacts “normal” human beings is really helpful because then I don’t have to waste time and energy on dealing with shame and so forth, and can just concentrate on healing the aftereffects of those “little traumas”.
        Your raising the subject of validating trauma is inspiring me to post more on the subject. Any specific aspects of it that would be helpful to look at first?

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