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.