Healing the Wounds of Childhood Trauma
Author: Shernide Delva
Childhood is seen as the building blocks for the rest of our life. With an unhealthy foundation, it is easy for someone to stumble. Unfortunately, some people go through a childhood trauma severe enough to impact their entire life.
What is trauma? Trauma is a sudden event that turns your world upside down. It can be a death, a tragic accident or assault. When the grief of the event passes, the struggle to understand what happened remains.
Adults face trauma. However, children are affected in a vastly different way. Children are still developing. Their brains are not fully functional like adults are. Their coping skills are flawed, and their view of the world is understandably narrow-minded and self-centered. Children may blame themselves for their parents’ divorce stating it is because they did not do their homework or clean their room. Of course, divorces happen for much more complex reasons, incomprehensible to a young child.
When a child goes through any form of trauma growing up, they will do anything to prevent the scenario from happening again. Therefore, they develop defense mechanisms to help them feel in control. They do not want the feelings of abandonment, pain, fear, or loss of control to cloud their life anymore. They become emotionally cold and use external sources for comfort.
Here are the most common defense mechanisms that occur due to trauma:
“I will take care of myself.”
Because of past trauma, a child feels it is their responsibility to take care of themselves. They may not have received the proper healing from the traumatic event. As adults, they may have trouble opening up and letting others in. Instead, they manage their emotions on their own and refuse to lean into relationships.
“I am compliant and passive.”
Trauma can result in an child who learns to cope by giving up. They may feel like there is not a point to trying, and lose self-confidence. Childhood trauma results in an adult who is compliant and goes through the motions because they feel it is pointless to have their own voice.
‘I need to stay alert.”
Because the world feels unsafe, a person who has endured childhood trauma becomes hyper-vigilant and anxious. They are always looking for danger and expecting the worse. If a friend is late, it is automatically a car crash. Anxiety and always being on the edge becomes a real problem.
“I need to be in control, and I am angry.”
The opposite of feeling completely out of control is feeling completely in control. In this scenario, trauma creates a need to take charge. If given a hard time, fight back. They feel it is their sole job to protect themselves and create their future and will do so relentlessly.
All of these coping mechanisms work in one way or another. Children use these coping mechanisms to move forward and survive. Unfortunately, the problem is they linger and do not work in the real world. All these coping strategies are too black and white. A person may never learn true intimacy because this behavior deters from delving into deeper relationships.
The good news is these ingrained behaviors can be changed. Change occurs in several steps.
- Take a hard look at your stance and its limitation.
Ask yourself how you view the world and cope with others. Learn to be honest with yourself and separate the past from the present.
- Find Closure.
Your definition of closure may be different from another person. It is a good idea to begin to heal from some of the trauma you endured as a child. Talk to a professional about different techniques that can help heal some of the pain from trauma.
- Get out of your comfort zone.
It may be difficult to seek professional help so instead, make baby steps towards change. Do not let your thoughts hold you back.
- Finding Support.
Support is extremely important in recovery. You may even need professional help and/or medication to help break the cycle completely. Regardless of what you need, never feel ashamed for reaching out for assistance. You are not alone.
The important part of childhood trauma is learning to be stronger on the other side. Remember, strength is not through escaping, it is through healing. If you are struggling, do not abuse, get professional help today. Call now.
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