The one thing I hate about childhood trauma is the shame, hurt, & memories that never go way. I am thirty two years old and I still battle with trauma that I experienced as a child. My childhood trauma started early and continued into my early teens. What I will never understand and I have tried to figure this out in therapy…. Why wasn’t I protected? I used to think that in African American families trauma was just ignored because of cultural reasons, but then I learned that all races hide childhood trauma. There is a stigma behind childhood trauma and no one wants to speak on it! Well guess what I’m going to ruffle some feathers and I’m going to talk about adverse childhood trauma and all trauma because it is happening and we as a society need to stop “sweeping things under the rug”.
So the big question is “Why do most families prefer to keep trauma a secret?” In my own experience I believe my trauma was kept a secret because the people who knew felt second hand embarrassment and did not want to take responsibility for their carelessness, lack of support, & lack of accountability. No one wants to admit this happened under my watch, or this happened and I had a clue of feeling it was happening, but I ignored it. If you’ve been here at “The Pearl Blog” awhile & you have been following then you’re aware that my first experience with childhood trauma that I did not repress completely was the child molestation I experienced at the hand of a very close family member boyfriend. This man gave me the creeps, and made me feel so uncomfortable in my skin from the moment he laid eyes on me. I tried keeping my distance, but that was impossible because he lived in my home. I used to blame myself, but what I have learned in therapy is “I was a child!” At the age of eleven ba child brain is not even developed enough to understand child molestation. I truly in my heart believe that everything from my childhood led me through all the adult trauma I experienced.
So, do childhood trauma have a long lasting effect on your mental and physical health? The answer is YES! Believe it or not adverse childhood experiences (also know as ACEs) — traumatic events bin a child’s life can leave emotional and psychological scars on a child forever. Childhood traumatic events can affect a child’s mental and physical health for years and often lingers into adulthood. Psychologist Kate Eshleman, PsyD, says that often, children can move on from traumatic events and thrive. But they may need a helping hand. “There are things parents and caregivers can do to support a child after trauma.” My childhood trauma lingered into my adult life because it was not spoken on, I received no support, and I was left to cope alone. I felt abandoned, I felt used, I felt like no one loved me or cared about what was happening to me. Still today I struggle with trust! I rarely trust anyone and I have major PTSD when it comes to strange men. I also deal with separation anxiety when away from my children and my biggest fear is someone violating them and I never know or they never tell. I’ve lived my life in fear since I became a mother. I do not allow anyone to keep my kids that I do not know very well, I don’t allow my children to have sleepovers at other children houses, and I speak to them about good touches and bad touches. Since I was not protected, it is imperative for me to protect my babies no matter what. My goal is to break those generational curses.
Adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, divorce, witnessing violence, or natural disasters are things that must be addressed early on, so that a child can have a chance to heal and face the trauma head on before it affects their lively hood as an adult. It is adults and parents responsibility to be mindful of the affects trauma can have on a child. What an adult may think of as minute, can be major for a child. If I received therapy in middle school I believe I would have turned out as a completely different adult. Because I’ve researched, been in therapy, and experienced a lot of life I can say research is accurate… my childhood trauma followed me into adulthood and led me into situations that would never have transpired if I was told it wasn’t my fault, I was still beautiful inside and out regardless of what happened, and given the tools I needed to heal and grow properly. Unfortunately for me my teenage and young adult years were traumatizing and although I have healed from a lot I still am suffering on a mental and physical level.
Adverse childhood trauma can affect how your body moves and react to people, the type of relationships you partake in, and what you allow or don’t allow due to not knowing you are worthy. The body can have stress and emotional reactions that are caused by childhood trauma. “Stress affects the body from head to toe. When something scary happens, stress hormones set your heart racing and make you break into a cold sweat. But if those hormones stay elevated for a long time, they can cause inflammation in the body and lead to lasting health problems. “The stress response can wear on our bodies,” (Dr. Eshleman). Also, significant stress or trauma in childhood can lead to anxiety, depression, increased risk for disease, and addictions. Due to my childhood traumas I do not cope well under high levels of stress, I have been diagnosed with anxiety, PTSD, & depression. Although I haven’t had any addictions to drugs or alcohol I used to be addicted to chaos and toxicity and I fed off of it for years. There were at least 10 years of my life when I did not know my worth, I allowed people to abuse me, mislead me, and treat me as if I was not worthy enough to be loved. I allowed and accepted a lot, I did not know what boundaries were, and I rarely spoke up for myself because I was stuck! I was twenty five years of age, stuck in the mindset of my eleven year old self. Although I was an adult I was still scared, unaware of my worth, not able to walk away from toxic people or situations, and I was lost!
I didn’t get a voice or start my healing journey until after I divorced my first husband. Divorce from a narcissist is what forced me into therapy, forced me to speak about my childhood, forced me to take responsibility for me, and forced me to finally admit all that I had endured and allowed for years. I was embarrassed to sit in therapy and say I allowed a man to put his hands on me, or I allowed a man to cheat on me for years and still stayed. It took my first husband literally treating me the lowest of the low before I woke up one day and looked at myself and realized I did not know the person in that mirror. I was a shell of a person, but I had no feelings and I did not care about life anymore or self- respect. I don’t know how or why, but one day something in me snapped! One day I woke up and said I’m leaving him! One day I woke up and said NO MORE TRAUMA! One day I woke up & said I’m ready to heal God, please just give me strength to walk way!
I walked away six years ago and I never looked back. I did not know how traumatized and damaged I was until the Army mandated that I get into therapy and it was a requirement for my medical retirement. The Army and therapy saved my life. I finally had a support system and I had HELP! Therapy has been a gift and a curse. I enjoy the release and sometimes I hate even remembering or discussing what I once allowed or all the trauma I have endured over the years. When you see me or read my blogs on healing and growing please know and understand this has been a long process for me, and I’m still healing everyday. There are days I have flash backs and I am depressed the entire day. There are times when I just feel disgusted because I get the sensation or memory of unwanted touches or I find myself dealing with PTSD because I can not process my trauma even as an adult. Trauma is real! No matter how much you try to repress childhood trauma it will seep through some how. Adverse childhood trauma can not be swept under the rug. I’m not a therapist, but I am an advocate for therapy and putting mental and physical health as a priority! If you or someone you know are dealing with adverse childhood trauma please seek help and start healing now. There is no age gap or cap for healing. It’s never too late to tell your story, and heal from it! It is my hope that someone who has not received help, reads this and take the first step today. I have listed some resources below, 👇🏾 please check them out. I have also listed other helpful Pearl Blogs that discuss trauma so check them out as well!
Resources for adverse childhood trauma:
The Pearl Blog, blogs about trauma: