My Childhood Trauma Is Worth the Healing Effort
Sometimes childhood trauma is big and obvious, but other times, it's more subtle and insidious. In my case, it took until I was well into my 20s to acknowledge that in many ways, my childhood was traumatic. For a long time, part of me knew that was the case, but I couldn't allow myself to believe it because it would mean everything in my life would change.
I would have to say goodbye to the very pretty lie that I'd had the ideal childhood. I would have to admit to some very ugly feelings about my parents that I'd been holding back for years. I would have to accept two realities in my mind at once: the fact that my parents were good parents, but they were bad ones too.
For a long time, all of these difficulties held me back from actually dealing with my childhood trauma, even after I admitted it was real. But now, I am doing everything I can to work through my childhood trauma and start to heal. It's hard and scary, but I have several very good reasons to keep at it anyway; and on bad days, I try to focus on them instead of how much everything hurts. I thought I would share my personal reasons for working through my childhood trauma, even when it's hard, in the hopes that they might help others going through the same thing.
5 Reasons I Am Trying to Heal from My Childhood Trauma
- I don't want to pass my trauma on to my children. Something I'm learning throughout my trauma-healing process is that a lot of the pain my parents caused me was because they had trauma of their own that they hadn't dealt with. This trauma invaded different aspects of their lives and influenced the way they parented me and my siblings, often in a negative way. By working through my childhood trauma, I am doing my best to ensure that I do not traumatize my children.
- I want to be myself. My childhood trauma centered on invalidation, dismissal, and belittlement, and as a result, I have incredibly low self-worth. I spend most of my time and energy trying to be what people want me to be so that they'll love me. This isn't always a conscious decision (in fact, most of the time it isn't), but I've become more aware of it through therapy. My next step? Unlearning that shame and learning to embrace who I am, even if I wasn't appreciated as a kid.
- I want to make a difference in the world. I'm not saying you can't make a difference with unhealed trauma. Actually, a lot of people do, but they often end up leaving their personal lives in shambles because they're unable to care for others and themselves at the same time. Currently, I also struggle with that. Either I throw myself into making a change until I burn out and fall apart, or I tune out the world to protect my mental health. I hope that through healing, I can make a difference and stay healthy at the same time.
- Working through trauma is hard, but also very validating. Even though I often leave my therapy appointments feeling drained and fragile, I also leave with a feeling of validation. A big part of my childhood trauma was gaslighting in which my parents insisted that any time I was upset, I was just being too sensitive and nothing was really wrong. Because of that, I am always doubting myself, and I often have to accept that aspects of my childhood were traumatic over and over, because my doubt and fear of my parents convinced me again and again that it's all in my head. So when I talk about all this with my therapist and she reassures me that what I went through should not have happened and it's okay to be upset about it, that really helps.
- I deserve to heal. Some days, my trauma brain gets very loud and all these other reasons for healing feel stupid and pointless, and I feel stupid and pointless too. On these days, I do my best to gently remind myself that these aggressive feelings of self-hatred are the byproduct of trauma, and I do not deserve to feel so horrible about myself all of the time. Sometimes I keep trying to heal simply because I feel sorry for the little girl I once was, who felt so alone and so wrong and so broken. She deserves to know that she was always okay and that she should have been loved for who she was. When I can't do the work for myself, I try to do it for her.
It Is Possible to Heal from Childhood Trauma
The thing about childhood trauma is that it affects your core beliefs about yourself. It changes you at your core, which means sometimes I feel like I can't ever heal. It feels like this brokenness I feel is a part of who I am, and I wouldn't be able to exist without it. But that is a lie told by my trauma. The truth is, healing is absolutely possible. I can acknowledge my pain, come to an agreement with it, and then let it go. I haven't been able to do this yet, but I believe I will be able to, someday.
If you've experienced childhood trauma, why do you keep working toward healing, even when it's hard? Let's provide some motivation for our community and share our reasons for healing in the comments below.
Griffith, M. (2020, June 9). My Childhood Trauma Is Worth the Healing Effort, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, August 14 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2020/6/my-childhood-trauma-is-worth-the-healing-effort