Asking for help or reaching out in a time of need does not come easily to those who have experienced trauma. Accepting a compliment (as simple as that) may be painfully hard. But overcoming these fears and hesitations is crucial on the road to living a complete and balanced life.
Do you ever sense like you need a family or friend's support? But then stop yourself from reaching out?
Generally, healthy relationships matter. Deep connections are essential to being a healthy human being. For trauma survivors—or those experiencing or have experienced mood disorders (which is also trauma) or postpartum depression —the act of deepening relationships can be tricky.
On the other hand, relationship trauma results from abusive behavior between intimate spouses or partners. The trauma can stem from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse endured during the relationship and produce long-lasting psychological and physical effects.
Defining Relationship Trauma
Post-traumatic relationship syndrome is a proposed problem that would fit under the umbrella of post-traumatic stress disorder, a.k.a. PTSD. The concept of relationship trauma emerged as studies show that after the end of abusive relationships, individuals are found with symptoms similar to those observed in PTSD. A variation between avoidance and intrusion characterizes PTSD.
There is still so much to learn about the effects of relationship trauma. However, what is known is that relationship trauma differs from PTSD in the individual's ability to avoid trauma-related triggers or stimuli.
This article may open your eyes to what might keep you from intensifying your relationships and how to go about it. Primarily, take time to answer these questions below:
If these questions feel true and doubts or voices creep up, here are tips to help you move forward into deeper or closer relationships. Read on.
3 Tips To Move Forward
Tip #1. Know that having healthy relationships can fix old emotional wounds. Healthy relationships can heal old attachment wounds. Remember Kelly Clarkson's song, Piece by Piece? That is a heartwarming and current example. If you grew up not being nurtured or without secure attachment, it can develop into what you expect in your relationships or others as you journey through life. As one spoke, healthy relationships can be therapeutic in loving a trauma survivor. A Heartwarming and inspiring memoir on W. Veronica Lisare's book is a must-read. The author's testimony and the spiritual tools she learned along the journey will inspire all who read it to move through their challenges to God's perfect love and the other side of fear.
Tip #2. Consider the unrealistic levels you are holding yourself to. Would you expect a friend or a child to be as self-sufficient as you desire from yourself? Yes, you must own up and be accountable and, at the same time, responsible. However, it would help if you also recognized that you are human. Bring the compassion to yourself as you have for those you love.
Tip #3. Allow yourself to see the extent of your current relationships. Often, trauma survivors are givers who expect and accept nothing in return. It might be tough to know the depth of the love, support, and compassion those close to you can (and want to) provide. Try to see your relationships objectively and consider this potential.
Ending an abusive relationship is just one way to heal from an unhealthy situation.
Relationship trauma can include feelings of rage and anger toward the abusive partner. In the aftermath, a person may experience distressing thoughts or feelings, cognitive difficulties, and re-experiencing trauma. Some studies even suggest lingering psychological, physiological, and relational challenges.
Further, relationship trauma does not develop overnight, so it is vital to remember that healing may take some time. Do not forget that you deserve support, compassion, and deep relationships. Asking for help can be challenging for everyone. It can be complicated for those who have survived trauma. Through therapy, it is possible to realize that you deserve deep relationships as you grow and evolve through life. May it be in the good times and the hard times.
Do you find yourself easily breaking down even from the slightest mishap? Sometimes, this can be rooted in one’s childhood experiences and the pain these brought.
They say childhood is easily the happiest time in anyone’s life. Children experience life in a vastly different way than how adults do. They look at the world through the lens of innocence which has yet to see life’s bitterness and troubles. They go about their days worry-free and without the burden of responsibility, allowing them to live life easily. They’re taken care of and given the freedom to explore and interact with the world in whatever way they want.
This is how children are supposed to be reared. However, not every child has the luxury and privilege to experience this. In reality, some children live a somewhat problematic and traumatic life earlier.
What is Childhood Trauma?
Any emotionally painful event that can cause long-term physical and mental distress is considered childhood trauma. This encompasses physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, neglect, and witnessing violence or parental divorce.
While it can be difficult to believe that children experience such cruel events, it is prevalent and can be easily dismissed by either parents or authorities. According to the NCTSN or the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, around 78% of adults reported remembering traumatic experiences before the age of five. And this only reflects the percentage of those who explicitly remember. There can be instances when people repress negative experiences as a coping mechanism. Thus, this 78% is only a rough estimate and can increase in number.
Childhood trauma isn’t only a thing from one’s past. It will continue to haunt their memories and influence their behavior. Therefore, as adults, it’s crucial that people learn to be introspective, acknowledge their feelings, and deal with their past demons.
Trauma Manifesting in Adults
Traumatic events are often easily overlooked, not because people see them as trivial occurrences, but because they can easily pass as harmless behavior. When unresolved, this trauma can be carried until adulthood and manifest in different behavioral patterns.
There’s no surefire indication of childhood trauma, but its most common impact revolves around the person’s self-image. Adults may cultivate the belief that they aren’t enough. With their experience in childhood neglect and abandonment, they may focus on their weaknesses and distort their perceptions of self, associating it with failure. This heightened criticism can likewise impact how people interact with each other, allowing them to disregard boundaries and accept toxicity.
Physical Manifestations. Besides its mental and psychological scars, childhood trauma may have physical manifestations such as chronic illnesses and physical disturbances. Trauma can also be associated with unusual stress levels, influencing one’s hormonal behavior. This weakens the body, preventing it from performing at its full capacity. Hence, not only does childhood trauma affect one’s capabilities, but it may also impact others’ perceptions of the person.
Emotional Manifestations. Over time, trauma can alter one’s understanding of their own emotions. This causes people to react differently or overreact in certain situations unnecessarily. These distressing events can also increase one’s aggressiveness, anxiety, and emotional outbursts and can be a primary reason for depression and panic attacks.
Childhood trauma may have happened in the past, but its impact can drag on in the future. This can range from individual manifestations such as the ones mentioned above to a more social impact. While these demonstrations aren’t exactly destructive, they still hinder one’s development.
Working with Childhood Trauma
These manifestations aren’t a perpetual consequence. Adults can address the trauma driving these behaviors and move forward to change.
Acknowledge that it Happened
A simple instance of opening up to others whom one wholeheartedly trusts can be the first step to processing trauma. Admitting something one has experienced can be very difficult as an adult since this can likewise mean acknowledging or associating that event with one’s weakness. However, it’s essential to understand that trauma is never the victim’s fault.
Work with a Professional
When working through trauma and other distressing psychological circumstances, the best resolution should be with a professional. People can find these painful memories too much to handle. Thus, professionals can guide how to best work through them. Additionally, these professionals can provide materials and other methods to control pain and become stronger individuals.
Find a Support Group
One can easily find a professional that can help them. But whether they accept the help and follow the advice depends on the individual. Interacting with individuals who share the same trauma can be enough motivation to fuel one’s drive to betterment. Lean on others’ experiences and learn how they worked through their problems.
A perfect material to learn from is Veronica’s overcoming journey from childhood abuse, The Other Side of Fear. In this book, she shares how she worked through the issues she experienced as a child and how these impacted her life.
Childhood trauma has a connection to how people interact with people, affecting how they manage their relationships.
Childhood trauma is one of the principal reasons for psychological, mental, and physical issues. This trauma is caused by any distressing event that happened to a person during their earlier years, which results in more distressing behavioral patterns in adulthood. And one of these patterns is in line with how they form and navigate around their adult relationships.
More people have had traumatic childhoods than you’d think. In fact, in the United States alone, it’s been found that more than two-thirds of children are reported to have encountered some form of trauma. While this is a shared experience, it doesn’t mean it should remain unresolved. Hence, if you’re having trouble forming deeper relationships with others, you might want to be introspective and look back on your possibly rough past.
Childhood Trauma on Relationships
Prolonged exposure to adverse and traumatic experiences can affect how people perceive themselves and the world. Additionally, these childhood experiences may haunt the victim, reinforcing the belief that such events may happen to them at any time. This may end up preventing them from genuinely connecting to someone emotionally.
Reciprocation to Affection
One factor that’s significantly affected by childhood trauma is the person’s ability to reciprocate someone’s emotions. Most children develop trauma due to neglect and abandonment from their parents, the primary people they would have expected to receive love and protection from. This pain may influence their capabilities to trust and positively react to anyone’s affections.
Besides, if their parents hurt them, why would they have to believe that others won’t? Childhood trauma can teach children, now adults, not to trust anyone due to their previous experiences. Thus, they may prefer to stay away from forming relationships than risk letting someone in and possibly getting hurt in the future.
Avoidant Attachment Style
Childhood is when people receive and learn the very essence of security. They have their parents guiding them on how to be reliable and secure. With this aspect absent from their memories, people with traumatic childhood navigate relationships unknowing how to provide affection to the people they like correctly. They end up treading water around relationships due to their lack of experience with intimacy and security. Rather than letting someone get to know them, they may end up putting a wall around them.
Anxious Attachment Style
Contrary to the previous point, childhood trauma can also bring out a person’s fear of abandonment. Rather than keeping themselves away from people, they may experience the opposite. The nagging feeling that their partner can leave them anytime may lead to their readiness to do anything to make them stay, even if this means setting aside their interests. This attachment style, however martyr or heroic it may appear, can lead to a toxic relationship.
Children with troubled pasts may model what routine they lived with. For instance, if their parents constantly yelled and were aggressive with each other throughout their childhood, they may reflect this in their relationships. And with modeling, people repeatedly exposed to it will find it hard to change the behavior and have trouble realizing fault with it. This leads to two things. They might experience trouble expressing and relaying their emotions appropriately or develop toxic tendencies and hurt others.
Lastly, regarding childhood trauma affecting relationships, this doesn’t only include the romantic or platonic ones. It can also negatively influence one’s relationship with their religious beliefs.
Spirituality Severed by Trauma
In most instances, trauma can sever people’s belief and connection to God or any divine figure they believe in. This is due to the thought that if these figures were real, they wouldn’t have allowed such an event to happen to them. This likewise leads to a grudge against their belief, forcing them to stray away from their spirituality. This influence leads one to develop a grudge against and stray away from their spiritual belief. It can also impede their journey in healing from the trauma since one’s religion and beliefs are essential to work through it.
For a better reference, you can learn more about the significance of the ultimate love of God in Lisare’s book. With her narrative, you will follow and understand how childhood trauma does impact one’s life and how religious belief can help in facing this trauma.