Finding Comfort in Chaos Due to Unresolved Trauma

March 4, 2024 Sammi Caramela

I find comfort in chaos which leads to a multitude of problems in my life. Thankfully, my healing journey is leading me away from that. Learn more at HealthyPlace.

Finding comfort in chaos has been a pattern for me and my unresolved trauma. Especially before I sought treatment for my childhood sexual assault, and often without realizing it, I would feel somewhat "addicted" to emotional pain. In other words, I felt most myself when there was some sort of conflict in my life, whether it was a physical health condition or a relationship issue. While I didn't actively want these things to be happening, I did find comfort in the chaos they stirred up.

Comfort in Chaos and Unresolved Trauma

From the early age of four, comfort and chaos seemed almost interchangeable. My unresolved trauma manifested into obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and caused daily panic attacks for much of my childhood. In other words, my nervous system was so used to heightened fear that it didn't know how to embrace peace. 

My unresolved trauma sat in me for 20 years before I was finally able to talk about it. During that time — and for years after — it manifested as anger, controlling behavior, resentment, drama, and eventually even physical pain and illness. 

Healing Unresolved Trauma and No Longer Experiencing Comfort in Chaos

To address your unresolved trauma and comfort in chaos, I will always recommend therapy first and foremost. Personally, I couldn't even recognize this emotional "addiction" to conflict until I was properly diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Awareness was my first step. From there, it helped to have a therapist who could validate my experience and offer professional support and guidance.

Some other ways I was able to heal my unresolved trauma and stop craving chaos include:

  • I accept where I am on my healing journey. In my experience, you can't rush your healing or shame yourself into a "better place." I am still not fully healed from my trauma, but I know I'm learning and growing more each day. I now understand why my brain works the way it does, and rather than blaming or shaming myself for how I've learned to survive, I try to focus more on understanding my patterns and how I might develop healthier ones. By accepting where I am in this moment, I provide myself with a sense of grace, which is crucial to any healing journey. 
  • I accept myself feeling "bored." Through my recovery, I've found that peace and calm can feel boring when you have a hypervigilant brain. When you are wired to scan your environment for danger — which was common for me post-trauma — it can feel uncomfortable to be at ease. I used to constantly say, "I just want peace," which was true to a certain extent. Deep down, in my heart, I did want peace. However, I simply couldn't feel safe in a calm environment. Not only that, but I had become desensitized to my brain's chemical responses that would typically help me appreciate the positive aspects of my life, like love and excitement. This oftentimes translated either to discomfort or boredom in my everyday life. By letting myself sit in those feelings (and anything else that has come up), I've been able to appreciate the simple things rather than seek conflict.
  • I practice gratitude and mindfulness. Gratitude and mindfulness have been game-changers for me. When I started to become aware and appreciative of life's little joys, from sunrises to good conversations with friends to home-cooked meals, I noticed my perspective shift and my nervous system settle. Rather than finding comfort in chaos, I found contentment in peace.
  • I walk away from anyone/anything that perpetuates this cycle. While I'm certainly not blaming anyone for my own struggles, I had to seriously consider the people (as well the "things," such as jobs or even drinking habits) in my life who were contributing to this pattern. I've learned that some people or situations can negatively affect your nervous system and stir up old habits like self-blame, victimhood, and people-pleasing. It's important to distinguish between someone who is bringing you peace (initially causing you to want to self-sabotage) versus someone who is bringing you chaos (initially causing you to feel both pain and comfort). If it's the latter, you're likely better off letting go. Trust yourself to know the difference.

Though I've shared and practiced the above tips, I'm certainly not perfect. At times, I still find my unresolved trauma stirring up my ability to find comfort in chaos. However, coming back to a grounded place and touching base with loved ones (as well as my therapist) has allowed me to prioritize peace.

APA Reference
Caramela, S. (2024, March 4). Finding Comfort in Chaos Due to Unresolved Trauma, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela is a freelance writer, fiction author, poet, and mental health advocate who uses her writing to help others feel less alone. Find her on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and her blog.

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