When you experience adverse childhood experiences or hardship, your life and your soul are altered forever. Those who suffer loss, abuse or neglect early-on in life can often suffer from serious psychological and emotional disorders for decades to come, changing who they are and destroying their ability to foster caring and nurturing relationships even decades after the traumatic event.
Damaged at such critical developmental stages, many of us can find that we struggle with our own mental health, addiction issues and even difficulty attaching. Healing the harms and injuries of our childhood is one the hardest things we can do, but it’s necessary for us to create the life we want.If you want to get over the past, you have to start by facing it — bravely and one step at a time.
What is ACE?
If you want to resolve your childhood trauma, you first need to understand it. Trauma can generate some momentous emotions, and unless we learn how to process these emotions, we will continue to repeat the same damaging patters that keep us stuck and hurting. Refusing to face the traumas of our past causes them to fester like a sore; staying in our bodies as unconscious energy that wrecks everything from our employment prospects to our romantic relationships.
Childhood trauma is caused by any situation in which a child perceives that they are in an extremely frightening, dangerous or overwhelming position. This can occur either when they themselves feel threatened, or it can occur when they see someone they love struggling, harmed or otherwise belittled, abused or demeaned.
Traumatic events cause children to feel helpless and scared in a way that is far beyond their mental and emotional processing. These situations can occur in one-off events like natural disasters and injuries — or they could occur from regular instances of physical, sexual and verbal abuse. All these events can bring on symptoms of emotional and psychological trauma, and all of these events can haunt children well into their adult lives.
The types of experiences that upset our childhoods.
There are a number of different childhood experiences that can take a long term toll on our health and sense of self as adults. While physical and sexual abuse most certainly make the list, adult-struggles are not limited to these experiences alone. The mental and physical health of our parents can significantly impact who we are, as can the emotional and physical neglect we experience.
We don’t typically think of emotional manipulation as abuse, but it is. When someone intentionally causes an injury to our dignity or emotional integrity, they are abusing you. Emotional abuse most often occurs in the form of threats, shaming, scapegoating and even confinement or driving you to hurt yourself.
Whether you were abused or you watched someone else receive physical abuse in your household, it has a damaging effect on your psyche for the longterm and as an adult. This occurs when someone (anyone) who has authority over you uses it to injure you physically, or they use their power and threats of violence to abuse someone you love (like your mother or a sibling). This can includes cuts, bruises, scratches, burns, broken bones and even the loss of consciousness.
Living in a household that’s plagued by mental illness — or even physical illness — can make it hard to adjust and function normally as an adult. When one or more caretakers is absorbed by the darkness of their own struggles, it makes it hard for them to connect and parent with their children on any meaningful level. Instead, the child is often left to fend for themselves where they are forced to find new means of coping both mentally and emotionally, while watching their caretaker struggle to do the same.
When our caregivers fail to give us the physical and emotional resources we need to survive (like food, clothing, love and a place to live) this is neglect. Though physical neglect is more apparent, emotional neglect is just as damaging but harder to see — even if you’re living within it. It’s also one of the hardest forms of parental abuse to realize and accept as adults. If your caregiver fails to give you the nurturing and connection you need to thrive, this is emotional neglect.
This is one of the most damaging forms of abuse and sadly one of the most common when it comes to childhood trauma. It is estimated by The National Center for Victims of Crime that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys will be the victim of childhood sexual abuse in their lifetime, but these numbers are generally assumed to be higher due to the low rate of reporting.
What it means for our adult lives.
When you grow up as the victim of adversity or trauma, it takes a toll on who you are and it seriously impacts your ability to function in the longterm. Whether it’s forming your own substance abuse issues, or coming to battle your own mental health demons — the way we are raised plays a pivotal role in who we allow ourselves to become later on.
Healing from childhood trauma is hard, but it starts with understanding it. by: E.B. Johnson When you experience childhood trauma, your life and your soul are altered forever. Those who suffer loss, abuse or neglect early-on in life can often suffer from serious psychological…