If you experience some of the traumas that I’m going to identify, how can those traumas impact you or your loved ones later on in life as adults? So we’re taking something from the past and just identifying a general overview which is adverse childhood experiences. We’re going to take that and then we’re going to see that if you or someone you love, experience that. What are some ways that it can manifest in their life as adults?
Whenever I talk about trauma I always want people to hear this: just because you experienced trauma in your life it does not equal a life sentence. There are ways to heal, there are ways to recover and there are ways to transform. A majority of human beings that I’ve known in a specific space like the healing modalities have gone through a lot of stuff themselves and yet we are still here. So if you are someone that’s going through that stuff and it’s fresh and it’s raw and it’s real and it’s overwhelming, just know that the cure for the pain is in the pain.
What is Trauma?
Before we get into how childhood trauma can manifest in adulthood we first need to identify what the trauma is. So trauma is oftentimes referred to as things that happened to us that should have not happened. Like physical abuse, sexual abuse, those things that someone did to us that they should have not done. We all know what those are.
Sometimes trauma is things that should have happened that did not happen. You should have got that hug and that love when you needed it but you didn’t get it. Maybe you were neglected when you needed presence and availability and accessibility. So trauma is not always bad things that happen to us. Sometimes trauma is things that never happened to us that should have happened.
Needing a Hug
You want to know something sad? For some of you that might not have any substance abuse history or personal experience with it I’ve sat in chairs across many individuals who are addicted to let’s say opiates, so the heroin, the roxies, the fentanyl, you know those type of opiate sedatives, powerful painkillers. What a lot of them have shared with me is that opiates is like the warmest hug I always wanted but never got. Damn! We’re like, “Oh they’re just drug addicts, they just care about themselves, they don’t care who they’re hurting, they don’t care this, they don’t care that.” In their mind they say that the experience that they get from using opiates is similar to the warmest hug I always wanted but never got. You know what that also means? Love – a lot of times people do addictive behaviors because they experience something from it that they never got in life. And so we’re going to go and identify some of these childhood adverse experiences.
Negative Childhood Experiences
So when we’re talking about first childhood experiences real quick we’re talking about any type of abuse, physical, sexual, emotional, we’re talking of any type of neglect. If you ever had a family member in your house between the ages when you’re growing up 0 to 18 to 20 that experienced some type of mental illness, Mom, Dad, siblings. So if you’re raised in a house with mental illness, if you were raised in a house with substance abuse, alcoholism, sometimes gambling, sometimes illicit drugs. If you were raised in a house that there was domestic violence present and specifically if you ever watched violence committed against your mother, that’s a very specific adverse childhood experience. If there was any type of incarceration, or family members going off to institutions. If there was any type of parental separation or divorce. These adverse childhood experiences, there’s about eight of them in the original study, the more someone experiences those from zero to 18 to 20 years old the more likelihood that later on in life they’re going to have some problems when it comes to their mental health, when it comes to their potential use of illicit substances, risky behavior and also their physical health.
Adult Health Problems
There is so much data and reports and studies out there on people who experience adverse childhood experiences. Four of them, six of them, have a 100 – 400 – 800% greater chance of developing things like cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases. And here’s the two most staggering statistics and I’ll move on from this. If somebody experienced six or more of those adverse childhood experiences and if you’re wondering that’s a lot, I’ll tell you this. Our program participants at any given time there could be a quarter to a half to 75% of them who have experienced six or more of those. If someone experiences six or more versus someone that experiences zero or one there is a 4,600 it’s called 46 fold greater chance of the person with more to develop intravenous drug use versus the other person. And you’re ready for the most staggering one? If somebody experienced six or more of those versus somebody who experienced zero or one they have a 20 years shorter life expectancy. Wow, that’s how trauma manifests later on in life.
I strongly suggest you go read the adverse childhood experiences research data support out there. CDC did some good things on it but the original founder is Vincent Felletti. Kaiser study. 17,000 people. 90s San Diego, California. Go check it out. Blow your mind.
Childhood Experiences can lead to Substance Abuse
And yes, even if you’re not the person with substance abuse it can develop in your life too. Unfortunately the parents may not have known about the abuse, it could have been a relative, a family friend or others. It was a secret that the child was afraid to share. This happens more than you expect – family, friends, relatives, sometimes even caregivers, coaches, people in trusted positions. Sometimes the child even says something to their family that’s even more heartbreaking and the family says, “Nope, you’re lying, that didn’t happen, you’re making it up,” and unfortunately I’ve seen that happen. Happened so many times and sometimes it took 15 – 20 years for the family to come around and believe them. Maybe because there were more incidents in the news or something happened but it takes a lot for a kid to share something like that, and unfortunately there are times the family doesn’t know, and there’s times that the family knows and turns a blind eye to it.
If you’ve experienced childhood trauma, parental separation, divorce, abuse, alcoholism, mental illness, neglect, if you experienced it in your past and you don’t do something about it today, it’s going to suck. It’s going to hurt. But the worst part is it’s going to continue to repeat itself in the future over and over and over again until you say I no longer want to live with this pain. I want to heal. I want to recover, and I want to transform. And if and when that day comes for you, we will all become a more compassionate person as a result of it. And people that have a lot of compassion tend to do compassionate things and treat themselves and others compassionately and make the world a more compassionate place.