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Childhood-Trauma Recovery/Wife was chronically ill in childhood, emotionally is still not over


Dear Peter,

My wife had heart operation and epilepsy during childhood, and she was treated as the "heart operated" poor little girl, everybody was sorry for and her mum was busy talking to others about how much sacrifices she had done to her.

We married when she was 19, that was 9 years ago. She is symptom free and her medical condition does not restict her in any way.

We moved to a different country, where nobody knows about her "sick" childhood and she flourishes, does exceptionally well at work, is very pretty, intelligent, has many male admireres.

However when her parents or "old friends" call her she gets frustrated and miserable making contact with acquaintances from the part of the world that still considers herself the "heart operated poor girl".

I wish to support her recovery and desire to live to her full potential as much as I can but I have a dillema.

She feels that avoiding all contact with the old friends and family is the best way forward.

I think that it is not running aways from these people that will lead to lasting recovery but it is accepting her backgroud fully and facing the "enemies" (people seeing her as the sick child) with confidece accepting the less than fortunate childhood and confidence in the future.

My question: how can I best serve her interests to break free from this childhood trauma?

Your response is very much appreciated.

Thank you in advance!


Hello Sefatias - your concern for and admiration of your wife is clear from what you write. I agree that avoiding contact with judgmental people is not the best solution. If she now sees herself as a well person, then what would be helpful is her choosing to use the learnable skills of "empathic listening" and "assertion" with people that still view her with pity: - specially "I-messages"

It might be useful for her to assess whether she retains any psychological damage from her childhood trauma:

If she does, consider both of you taking this free online "lesson" in psychological recovery:

If these bring up questions for either of you, please ask!

Respectfully, Pete

Childhood-Trauma Recovery

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Peter Gerlach


I can answer questions about what constitutes and causes childhood neglect and abuse, and what those cause in typical young people. I can describe the specific psychological wounds that result, and options for assessing those wounds and reducing them over time. I can advise on addiction management (including codependence); mood disorders; depression; relationship problems; avoiding courtship mistakes; effective parenting; bonding, losses, and healthy grief; finding your life purpose; hitting nbottom; effective support groups and clinical help; PTSD; ADD/HD; and how to relate well to psychologically-wounded people. I can refer people to several different ways to recover, including inner-family therapy. I cannot answer legal or medical questions about trauma recovery I have uploaded many videos about trauma recovery to YouTube - see the "gercacn" channel at"


I have been a professional family-systems therapist for 32 years. For 26 years, I have studied and recovered from my own childhood trauma (2 alcoholic parents), and have helped hundreds of self-motivated women and men do the same.

Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA),,, Unity Church, and the National Stepfamily Resource Center's Experts Council (NSRC). I belong to and support Final Exit and Compassion and Choices nonprofit right-to-die organizations.

I have published a book on inner-wound assessment and recovery [Who's *Really* Running Your Life?" (], and have uploaded a free 7-module self study course ("Break the Cycle!") course on the Web: I also answer Expert" questions about effective communication, counseling, and stepfamily solutions.

I have a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) from Stanford University (1959) and a Masters degree in clinical Social Work (MSW) from George Williams College (1981). I have taken hundreds of post-grad education hours on trauma and recovery-related topics from perhaps 30 vetweran clinicians, and have read over 40 books on chldhood-trauma recovery, personality development, clinical hypnosis, spirituality, 12-step philosophy, multiple personalities, psychosynthesis, and "Voice Dialog." I have been recovering from my own childhood wounds since 1986 - and have gained a degree of serenity and life purpose I never believed possible as younger man. Helping "Grown Wounded Children" break the unseen legacy of ancestral neglect and abuse has become my life mission.

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of grateful emails and testamonies from clients and recoverers all over the world about my nonprofit recovery Web site. I was elected the president of the board of the Oak Park (IL) Family and Mental Health Center after serving for seveal years.

Past/Present Clients
Over 1000 men, women, couples, and families in the Chicago area, and hundreds of adult students in lay and professional seminars and classes. I now do phone and Skype counseling from Portland, OR (USA)

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