Trauma is an illness of not being fully alive in the present moment. It is secret suffering that rewires our brain and impacts every aspect of our life much after the traumatic event has passed. One is seldom aware of living with this impact. With trauma, we can have successful external lives with inner lives of desperation.
Trauma is not just major catastrophes. Most trauma happens in relationships in the form of verbal, physical, emotional, mental, and sexual abuse and neglect. The age at which trauma occurs has a significant bearing on our sense of self and resiliency.
Adults who experienced childhood trauma at the hands of caregivers is particularly complex. Caregivers are responsible for helping us shape our sense of self, safety, trust, and belonging in the world. Abuse at their hand creates a lot of developmental deficits and internal conflicts. Childhood Trauma often results in Complex PTSD. Since trauma is a form of brain injury, it needs specific intervention and trauma-informed care.
What adverse childhood experiences causes trauma –
- grown up with emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse
abandonment, disrespect, neglect, rejection in childhood
grown up with traumatizing and dysfunctional parenting
grown up with harmful caregivers, adults, or step-parents
grown up with alcoholic or drug-addicted parents
grown up without one or both the parents
adopted premature adulthood as a necessity for survival
caretaking for parents in your childhood
grown up in a financially unstable home
Impact of Childhood Trauma in Adulthood
Childhood trauma dysregulates the brain, emotions, and body. It is a stress response that makes us spaced out, checked out, dissociated, numb, and overreactive. The brain becomes foggy. One becomes somatically disconnected and half-unconscious at crucial moments. Susceptible to repeating similar mistakes. Conscious choices are tough to make.
Childhood trauma comes with painful amounts of developmental deficits. It’s like missing the memo on how to be human in this world. The sense of self, needs, desires, and what one wants to be in life is foggy. The inner world feels so complex and confusing that sharing it is unsettling. One moves between feeling special and unworthy.
Childhood trauma creates an inner world that is chronically unsafe. One is constantly scanning the environment for danger. And yet continually missing red flags. Living in constant abuse suppresses the body’s wisdom and knowing, which leads to a lack of self-trust and inability to discern. One feels more helpless than others and in continual need of external inputs.
Dysregulated brain makes cognitive functions like learning, reading, concentrating, analyzing, problem-solving, and perceiving quite challenging. This makes learning from our mistakes harder. Academic success and vocation planning do not come easy.
Childhood trauma is speaking a socially awkward language. Groups are particularly difficult. It is easier to be in a one-on-one setting. One is less inclined to approach or take the initiative. Task-oriented settings are easier than unstructured ones.
Childhood trauma impairs the ability to love, belong, resolve conflicts, ask for what one needs, draw boundaries, and feel lovable. Relationship attachment patterns are distorted. There is a tendency to avoid, fight, flee, freeze when things go wrong.