young toddler sad with hands covering face

How Your Tough Childhood Trauma Can Follow You in Your Adult Life

By Crystal Hamilton

Disclosure: While all thoughts and opinions on this blog are my own, this post does contain affiliate links and any sales made through such links will earn me a small commission – at no extra cost for you. Keep in mind, the majority of links that I share are products that I have personally used myself. I’m simply sharing them in hopes that they benefit you on your journey as they have for me.  Thanks for supporting the brands that make my blog possible!

Okay everyone, so this post is definitely going to hit home for a lot of us. I ain’t going to lie, It’s deep– perhaps too deep for some.

Some of you are probably saying to yourself, “I don’t get it. What’s the connection between my Superhero Alter Ego and my childhood trauma”?

Look. I get it. It took me a minute to figure all of this out for myself- bare with me as I break it down for you.

According to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 5 tier model, humans must achieve our basic safety needs (emotional and psychological security) before we can ascend to the highest level of self-fulfillment and self-actualization.

So, to make a long story short- we must do our very best to conquer the traumatic stresses that stem from our childhood in order to evolve into the highest version of ourselves.

No more running from our past people. The time is now for us to recognize and acknowledge the worst moments of our lives that are hindering us from reaching our full potential. Let’s commit today to heal these toxicities that are fueling our lack of self-worth, self-doubt, lack of confidence, and defeatist mentality.

What are the Damaging Effects of Childhood Trauma on Adulthood?

The term “PTSD” is evocative. For most people, it brings the image of a soldier home from war, dealing with combat flashbacks.

In truth, many people suffer from PTSD of some kind: childhood traumas that are carried into adulthood in the shape of attitudes, behaviors and perspective.

Common Types of Child Traumatic Stress

Portions of this blog post might reflect your own, or similar, experiences; but everybody’s walk of life is unique. Problems include:

Kids Growing Up Without Their Biological Parents

I don’t mean the lucky ones who end up with loving, permanent adopted families (although I would not minimize the effect that even this can have on the psyche). I mean kids who become a ward of the state, going from foster home to foster home.

Many – far, far too many – experience horrible physical, sexual and emotional abuse. They are starved and beaten by the very people charged with caring for them.

Kids Growing Up With Parents Who Are Present But Detrimental

Sharing genetics doesn’t mean your parents were the heroes you needed them to be. Many biological parents are abusive, or neglectful, or otherwise harmful to their own children.

Some parents struggle with substance abuse: alcoholism and illegal drug use. Dealing with the financial, emotional and physical fallout of that kind of addiction is hard for adults, let alone children. Plus, addicts can become destructive in order to feed their addiction. Stealing, lying and violent behavior are common.

Kids Also Grow Up in Homes With Domestic Violence

One parent being violent toward another – or child abuse, where parents are violent towards their own kids.

Kids Who Are Molested or Raped

Often times child victims of rape and molestation are too young to know how to articulate what happened to them and are too fearful of the consequences for speaking out. Emotions of shame and guilt can be provoked by an unsupportive family culture of the all too familiar damaging expression “What goes on in this house, stays in this house“.

Kids Who Grow Up in Rough Neighborhoods

The ones filled with gang violence, drug dealers and other violent criminals. Having to walk past these guys on the way to school.

Hearing gunshots in the night. Watching the people you love die, all around you, all the time.

All these issues are heartbreakingly common. Many children face them daily. It affects them for the rest of their lives. How they act, think and even move in their adult life will, in part, reflect the trauma of their childhood.

Common Emotional Effects of Childhood Trauma

Fear

Adults who were abused as kids often carry their fear into adulthood. This can stop them from finding healthy relationships or embarking on new opportunities.

Anxiety

Similarly, anxiety often stems from trauma. This can be specific to situations that remind the adult of past trauma, or it can be more generalized and insidious.

Depression

Unsurprisingly, many sufferers of PTSD are depressed. This can manifest in the obvious sadness; or lack of motivation, fatigue ,and unsociability.

Anger/Aggression

Many trauma victims harbor anger towards not only their abusers but the world in general. This can come out in short-temperedness or, far more severely, in a perpetuation of the abuse towards other people.

Self-Destructive Behavior

This can be addiction, unsafe promiscuity, or even sabotaging their own relationships and careers.

Difficulty Trusting Others

This can cause huge issues in relationships, friendships and even in the workplace.

Feelings of Isolation

Sufferers can feel like nobody understands, or like they are being judged.

Poor Self-Esteem

Some trauma survivors find it hard to love themselves; even going so far as blaming themselves for some of their trauma.

Spiritual Effects

Decreased trust in religion, higher powers and spirituality in general. Blaming God for the trauma instead of the inflictors.

Common Physical Effects of Childhood Trauma

Severe Mental Illness

Depression, epilepsy and even suicide can stem from child abuse.

Substance Abuse

Drug and alcohol abuse can become a cycle perpetuated for generations. People try to numb the pain of their trauma by turning to excessive alcohol or illegal drugs.

Obesity

A lack of self-esteem and self-worth, plus depression and other health issues, can lead to not eating well and not working out.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs)

Being promiscuous and not practicing safe sex is a common pairing for those affected by trauma. Unfortunately, prostitution is a common symptom of traumatic stress that stems for childhood sexual abuse.

The Wrap Up

Healing Childhood Trauma

Healing the damage caused by childhood trauma once you have become an adult is daunting and difficult. But it’s not impossible, and research is finding new techniques all the time.

You are not alone. If you have survived childhood trauma of one kind or another, you can both express and experience empathy and compassion to and from fellow sufferers; and often other people around you.

To heal, the first step is always acknowledging and recognizing trauma for what it is. Visiting a therapist or psychologist is often a good first step.

For many, spiritual development is a clear path towards healing. Growing your connection to God, and working towards self-discovery, will help you find your purpose – and purpose helps us to overcome trauma.

Finally, and most difficult, is forgiveness. Forgiving those who have wronged you can seem counter-intuitive and even impossible. But it is the only way to take back the power from them, and to use it to become the best version of yourself.

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