This is part 2 of the 16 questions to ask yourself if you experienced Childhood Trauma. In this post we talk about questions 9 through 16.
9. Do you respond with fear to authority?
If a child grew up in an environment where someone with authority was explosive, whether it was a parent, grandparent, foster parents, adopted parents, the child becomes terrified of the sounds and sight of someone being angry. The same fear could continue on later into life when they encounter angry people or angry situations that could trigger emotions from their childhood.
10. Do you have trouble with intimate relationships?
One version of an intimate relationship is physical and sexual. Another version of an intimate relationship could also be having a problem with allowing other people to know what’s going on within. Do you have a hard time opening up to people? Do you have a hard time expressing your internal world to others, allowing other people to see you, to hear you, to connect to you? Do you have trouble with intimate relationships? If there was dysfunction in your family regarding intimacy, when a child was hurt and taken advantage of by their own primary caregivers, the same child has trouble with intimate relationships later on in life, whether it’s platonic relationship, business, or romance.
11. Do you attract compulsive and abusive relationships?
Abusive relationships are not always related to physical abuse. If your child or loved one continues to abuse you and take advantage of you and manipulate you and psychologically destroy you, that’s an abusive relationship. This often happens because of unresolved issues in the past. Until those issues are resolved, people tend to fall back into the same kinds of relationships over and over again. Unresolved issues attract the very same issues back into life. Anybody that’s abusive continues to be that same person in every relationship they show up in.
12. Do you cling to relationships because you are afraid to be alone?
Boredom is defined as the inability to sit with oneself, the inability to be alone with oneself. This typically happens because at some point in their life when a person was alone they were afraid and uncomfortable, so they go to great lengths in order not to be alone. Many children and teens today spend any alone time on their phones and social media so they can be connected to people and not be alone. Cell phones are just as addicting as smoking is and people do it so that they don’t feel alone. Many people tolerate and put up with relationships because they just can’t be with themselves. This is typically because at some point in their life they couldn’t be with themselves because they were scared, terrified and afraid of being alone as a child.
13. Do you mistrust your own feelings and the feelings of others?
If a person has trust issues as an adult, the roots of it were probably in a home with family dysfunction where they could not trust the environment they were growing up in. For example, if a parent said they would be there for a game or for the holidays and they were consistently not available, that could lead to trust issues. If a parent was addicted to alcohol leading to instability at home, that could lead to trust issues. Unfortunately the same trust issues persist into their adult lives and the same behavior is inflicted on their loved ones. Even if it was the most painful thing that ever happened to someone, they end up inflicting it on others when it’s untreated and unresolved.
14. Do you have trouble unlearning what’s not serving you?
We don’t just learn behavior when we’re children. We can learn behavior later on in life.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
Can you unlearn what’s not serving you and can you relearn something that’s going to help you move forward? Family dysfunction and childhood trauma need not be a death sentence. For a lot of people family dysfunction and childhood trauma is the catalyst for who they are and allows them to transcend into somewhere that they would never have gotten to without it. Our pain becomes our greatest asset but there’s no value to any of that stuff if we don’t channel it and process it and use it for the positive. When you read the autobiographies of really successful people, musicians, athletes, or entrepreneurs you may notice that their childhood wasn’t that good. They had a lot of dysfunction in their home but the beauty comes from what they did with it, how they used it, and how it served them. However, there are a lot of people that have family dysfunction, childhood trauma and they just repeat the same cycle over and over again because they didn’t do anything with it.
15. Do you find it difficult to identify and express your emotions?
Identifying emotions and expressing emotions are two different things. Before you can express your emotions you have to understand and identify what you’re experiencing. A lot of people have a hard time expressing their emotions because they can’t identify them. If you don’t know what you’re experiencing, how can you see it, how can you articulate it, how can you express it?
This is where counseling, therapy, group therapy and support groups are helpful because you get to talk and in that talking you start to identify, “Oh, that’s how I’m feeling,” or someone identifies something and says how they felt.
Expressing emotions is a whole different thing. The hand is directly connected to the heart. That’s why you can write things down on a piece of paper that you could never say to another person. It bypasses that filter of judgment. So the first homework assignment for anyone that has a hard time identifying and expressing their emotions is to grab a piece of paper and pen and start writing. It’s called stream of consciousness writing. Writing it out helps get the emotions out, and it creates the psychological and emotional muscles to be able to articulate it one day to somebody.
16. Do you think your upbringing in family dysfunction and childhood trauma affected you?
It is common knowledge that there was abuse, psychological, emotional, physical, or if there was alcoholism at home, a child in that family will be impacted. When they grow up into adults, they minimize what they have experienced but severe dysfunction and childhood trauma does not happen to everyone. These unresolved issues are the roots of the behavior patterns that will continue into their adult life and manifest in their relationships, at work, with their children, friends and peers. Until they recognize that they need to process those childhood experiences in order to change the narrative, the negative impacts will continue to show up. Programs such as Al-anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics or Addicts are helpful in bringing out some of these issues into the open. These are free programs and local support groups.
If you would really like to address the roots of these issues, it is highly recommended to seek a therapist or a counselor to help address the unresolved experiences. Every human being is an independent entity from their loved ones. It is not enough to help your loved ones receive treatment and therapy for their issues. It is important that you address your own issues as well. Your loved ones becoming sober will help their peace of mind, however you will not experience the same peace of mind until you address and resolve your traumatic experiences. Reach out to Buckeye Recovery Network for help.