#1 Childhood Trauma Issue That Follows You Into Adulthood
by Lisa A. Romano
Today we're going to be addressing the emotional trauma related to childhood issues and what it means to grow up in a family that's full of denial. How that relates to having a parent with some type of addiction or even a mental health issue, and what happens to a child when there is no authenticity in the home.
If you grew up like this, first of all, it’s not your fault.
“It's not you; it's what happened to you.”
It’s Not Your Fault:
If you grew up in a home where you were forced to adapt and cope with situations and experiences you should never have, you need to know that all children are afraid of abandonment and have no other choice but to acclimate to the toxicity of a childhood home.
The problem that this creates in our lives is that we are born asleep; we are born subconscious and have the default mode network operational in the brain. Outside of conscious awareness, we hear our mind saying things, we feel our body experiencing something, but we don't realize that we are not the mind and our emotions.
Most people are just responding to what they think they are thinking and what they feel. Most people don't realize that they can think about how they think and that they can think about how they feel. So if you come from a home like this, and you were forced to cope and adapt to crazy-making situations, or you were forced to actually distort reality to survive, you might still be doing that today.
Your mind might still be doing what it did when you were a child: disowning your feelings, your reality, trying to gain approval, trying to stay out of the hairs of toxicity. This means that you might be someone who now subjugates their needs for the sake of others.
You might be a peacekeeper; you might seek out people to fix and to rescue because, as a child, to survive your toxic home, you discovered that it was safer to be a rescuer. It was safer for you to have absolutely no needs at all, and this is a true tragedy. This is happening across the world right here and right now, and I don't think enough people are talking about it.
There are so many layers to this: this light layer of being born unconscious, in a toxic environment, and having family members that distort reality. Because of their denial force, you start to distort reality to survive.
We have this idea that until we awaken and see our truth, we hear ourselves thinking and feeling backwards and irrational things, but we don't know it.
“It becomes our illogical logic, and healthy people seem abnormal to us.”
It doesn't make sense to us, we push people who want to be kind to us away, and we tend to feel a lot more comfortable with toxicity and chaos. We gravitate towards relationships and situations that tend to be turbulent, or we bring the turbulence into relationships because peace just doesn't make sense to us. There has to be something wrong all the time, and there has to be something I need to fix; otherwise, I don't feel normal. That's a problem.
We come into this world unaware. We're born to people who live in denial, and, as children, we're forced to abandon our own reality for the sake of the sick family system. We're born asleep, so we don't know that we've been programmed and indoctrinated into thinking things that are illogical to survive.
“We become adults who are highly insecure, who fear abandonment and rejection and live in denial.”
More often than not, we become people who have eating disorders, trouble with alcohol, smoking; we do everything to the extreme. We don't know how to value the self; we've never been taught, and we’ve never been taught that we matter. Our parents failed miserably in being able to honor us.
There is a time for forgiveness and a time for healing, however before that time, you, Dear One, have to figure out what happened to you.
Understanding What Happened To You:
You have to come to terms with how you felt as a child, embrace the times in your life and the feeling that makes you feel unworthy and fear abandonment. You must embrace it because it's not your fault the inner child inside of you is carrying these wounds. They're valid feelings, and the only way to access them is by surrendering to them, by accepting and not being in denial of them.
For as long as I could remember, I was in denial of what happened to me and how I felt as a child. There was emotional, verbal, and even moments of physical abuse; indifference, constant hostility, anxiety, and stress, and none of it ever got spoken about.
We weren't allowed to feel our feelings. If we cried, we were banished from the kitchen, told to go upstairs into our bedrooms or told if we wanted something to cry about, then my father would give us something to cry about. We were shamed, mocked, put down, made fun of, and humiliated; these things were the norm in our home. It was a pretty rough place to grow up in, although everything looked perfect on the outside.
This is something that many adult children of alcoholics have to suffer through. Children who have parents with mental health issues that are not addressed, children who grow up in abusive homes, where trauma is happening daily, you are forced to forego your inner reality for the sake of being part of this family that is actually hurting you.
I wanted to go into a little bit of depth about what happens when you come from a home where denial is at the cornerstone of how your family functions. If you relate to this, then this is something that you can really heal from as you recognize the truth.
“The truth does set you free, but that doesn't mean the truth isn't painful.”
But that doesn't mean the truth won’t open you up, and you're not going to feel this flood of emotions that have been trapped within you that have been preventing you from living a fulfilled, authentic life.
Consequences of Denying Your Wounds:
Virginia Woolf once said:
“it's not what happens to children; it's denying what happened to children and the inability for a child to express what happened to them.”
When children are afforded the opportunity to talk and feel acknowledged and validated, when someone has empathy for a child, that child can process this experience, move it forward, and clear it. But when you are an adult child from a home that has forced you to deny your wounds, you are blocked.
You might even develop fertility issues, diverticulitis, heart palpitations, among other things. I've had clients who have said that they truly believe they got breast cancer because of their mother's rejection. They didn’t feel love flow from their mother, and their house was chaotic. The best thing that they could have done was stay out of their mother's way; that’s what made them feel safe, which is so sad when you think about it because your relationship with your parents is the foundation for every other relationship that you're going to have in your life. When your mother makes you feel like you're not good enough, you take that with you, which can turn into codependency.
You tell yourself, “Well, if my mother didn't love me, then maybe if I convince my partner or my friend or boss that I have value, then maybe they'll love me. If I turn myself into a pretzel and figure out what someone else wants, maybe I can get the love that I always needed.”
Isn't it interesting that the word “mother”, if you take away, the “m” is “other”? And the word “parent”, if you move the letters around, is “partner”? When we look at language, we see the similarities of these parallels. So, how my mother treats me defines my other, which is very interesting.
Denial in a Dysfunctional Family System:
So what is denial all about in a sick family system?
For example, there's this fear that other people will find out that mom or dad is an alcoholic, or there's a fear that other people will find out the house will be lost because the mortgage hasn't been paid. Family secrets are what children are afraid will get out. So the children have to distort reality and live in denial that anything is happening. They have to go to school and pretend that mommy fed them breakfast or that daddy came home last night.
They get this idea of what normal is and what it should be, but children who are lost in this space are forced to deny what's happening at home because the family assist system is sick and in denial.
Denial as a Defense Mechanism:
The next thing is that we have to understand that denial becomes a defense mechanism; it becomes a way of life. So if I'm in pain, I deny it. If my bills aren't paid, and I don't have enough to pay my bills, I deny it. If I marry a narcissist or an alcoholic, I deny it. I pretend because this is my defense mechanism, and it becomes my coping mechanism. I start coping with stress and painful situations by denying that they exist.
Children who live in a home where the people in charge distort reality affect the way you look at situations; you will begin to distort reality too. So you're forced to deny the obvious and what ends up happening later in life is that you can't trust your instincts.
So you say to mom, very innocently, that your dad's drunk and mom says no, dad's not drunk - she's just distorted reality. Now, mom is someone you need, so you can't go up against and challenge her. You psychologically know that you need mom but when you come from a family that is built on denial, what ends up happening is you're not allowed to feel your feelings. You're not allowed to have your own reality; you're not allowed to have your own perception.
What happens when you are repeatedly told that what you see, you're not seeing, or what you're feeling and experiencing isn't quite right, you end up developing denial patterns too. It becomes part of your coping mechanism for life. So when someone is being abusive, you might tell yourself that this really isn't happening or if one of your children come to you and they tell you that this terrible thing is happening, you might default to a denial pattern.
The consequences of coming from a family built on denial are vast. Children accept the reality of the people who are in denial, which forces them to abandon their reality and in addition to that, when they go against the grain, they’re risking being turned away.
What You’ll Experience as You’re Healing:
If you come from this type of home, one of the things that you will eventually begin to experience on your healing journey is anger. You're going to learn that what you went through was inappropriate, and you're going to have to face the many ways in which you were forced to deny your own reality. You're going to experience anger, you're going to experience the pain, and you're going to have to face the fact that the way you were raised was not right. It was toxic; it was dysfunctional, and it was rooted in denial.
You're also going to have to face the many ways in which this denial pattern has shown up in your own life. How often have you denied your right to feel a feeling? How often have you denied your right to see things just as they are? How often do you tend to go into denial?
On the healing journey, if you're like most people, you will develop some level of anger, and in my opinion, that anger is entirely appropriate. It needs to be processed. If you find yourself angry about the erratic behavior of your parents, you'll find yourself angry about any codependency.
So if mom sheltered dad or dad sheltered mom, you're going to start feeling the anger about that, and again this is appropriate. We don't want to get stuck there, though.
You may end up feeling angry about the fact that you experience yourself as being compliant. You might find yourself asking yourself things like, why did I put up with that? Why did I tolerate that? Why do I still put up with this? Why did I tolerate this all those years, and why didn't I say something? Why didn't I speak up?
“You really have to be very compassionate for yourself, and you have to recognize and remember that you were just a little boy or girl.”
When you were involved in this family, you had no other choice but to acclimate to what was happening in your family. It’s not your fault if denial is part of the way you think and process information. It’s not your fault if you disown your own inner reality - which is what gaslighting is all about.
It's not your fault if you came from a home like this and have manifested narcissistic relationships in your life. It's not your fault.
So anger is definitely going to be part of the healing journey, and again it's not where you want to get stuck, but it's a place where you say “there I am” when you're able to recognize that you were a victim. When you're able to recognize that you have a right to be angry about how you were treated as a child, that's a very sacred space, it's a very healing space, but it's not a space that we want to get stuck in.
“It's a space that allows us to develop a healthy sense of ego.”
When you are compliant with erratic parents, you don't have a healthy ego. You are giving away your right to feel what you feel and experience what you experience over to this toxic situation. As you heal, you regain that power, you start to take your power back, which is part of the recovery journey.
So if you come from a home where there was alcoholism, where there was narcissism, emotional neglect, please know it is not your fault, Dear One; it could be no other way. Still, the great news is that as you awaken and begin to tell yourself the truth and honor of your story, the truth begins to set you free.
When you find yourself on the healing journey, you may have to set boundaries, and most likely, not everybody will be happy about that.
“Set the boundaries anyway. Prepare yourself for the long haul.”
There will be people who will be angry that you set a boundary. You'll have cultural differences; you'll have people tell you that your culture has no right to set a boundary. You may have parents or even friends that don’t understand what you're going through. There might be a lot of pressure placed on you to backpedal and make you say that your reality is false, that you’re making things up from childhood. These are the types of things that happen when we begin to awaken and stop drinking our toxic family's kool-aid.
So try to keep in mind that the truth sets you free! Try to keep in mind that it could be no other way and it's not your fault. Please offer yourself self-compassion. Remember that anger is healthy and appropriate in this situation, although we don't want to get stuck there.
We don't want anger to control us; we want to control our emotions. It's never good when our emotions are controlling us. The whole point of evolving as human beings is that we're trying to gain control over what's happening in our mind, what's happening with our emotions and certainly our behaviors.
Know that this is all part for the course. Anger is part for the course. As you begin to honor yourself, tell your story and tell your truth, staying close to the recovery path, you shall heal and learn to live in your reality. You'll learn to integrate the past; you'll learn to live in the now so that you can live an abundant future.
And quite frankly, until we learn how to do that,
“the past hijacks the now, which affects the future.”
As divine human beings, it doesn't have to be that way, and we don't have to allow the past to dictate our fate.
Namaste everybody, until next time!
If you would like to learn more about the childhood trauma issues that follow you into adulthood, watch this video on my YouTube Channel, where I dive more into the number one issue.