I’ve spent the last few years learning to talk about my mental health, which includes my past, something that has repetitively come up; it seems I am trapped in my childhood.
It’s been a hard journey but seeking the help I needed has given me revelations. I was abused, it’s clear as to why I feel the way I do and that wasn’t my fault. Yet, I have a chance now to fight back, not at the abuser, but at the way my abuser made me feel.
No matter who I have spoken too, a therapist, friend or even in my own writing, I always find myself falling back into my past, to the child that I once was.
As many therapists like Freud would say, a lot of our mental health, as an adult, is impacted by our childhood. Which includes our family relationships, our education and the socialization that we occur.
Unfortunately for me, my childhood lacked the ‘things‘ that I needed to develop. It’s not to say that I have not developed at all, I just have learned differently from the norm.
My childhood was not the norm and I guess in some ways, I missed out on the full experience of childhood; or one that is deemed acceptable. I guess I was never ‘part‘ of the typical development of a child or a typical family at that.
Something I talk about is being split between two voices in my head. The responsible adult who is calm, patient and who listens, and the irrational child who demands that attention, who can’t understand and who refuses to be patient.
I often wonder, which of these voices is closer to my true self. Am I this adult who argues with my childhood often. Or did I never ‘grow up’ from childhood and the adult voice is the person I believe I should be. How can you truly know who you are?
One thing is for certain. I am trapped in my childhood.
I have been told by professionals that: “it’s amazing that I have this strong sense of self-awareness”. But then, If this is true, why is it so hard for me to separate myself from my past? I feel controlled by a mere memory.
Many psychologists believe that we need to go through certain events and milestones to become a ‘functioning‘ member of society. So when a child goes through trauma, it can change the ‘brain wiring‘.
Children like me, who witness abuse before they can ride a bike are often left with psychological damage that has no ‘easy fix’.
In a sense, I hate this idea because it seems to hint that there is a right and wrong way for a child to develop, but how can there be when you can’t control the future. The only right and wrong in this situation, is how we treat children in the first place.
10 years may seem like a young age, but 10 years is a very long time, in which anything can change.
For instance, in my first 10 years, I had witnessed and experienced a lot of abuse and bullying. This has made me create this huge ‘flight‘ complex. It means that I push myself away before I can get hurt, because I am only trying to protect myself.
I’ve grown up seeing more danger than safety, which has created this anxiety that I need to survive and that I must always be on alert. It makes it impossible to relax.
Still today, inside I am a scared child.
Some days, I don’t know how I am even an adult because I don’t feel like it. I still need that guidance, support and attention that a child does; maybe because I didn’t really have that growing up. I’m still looking for a parental figure.
So, without going detailing my whole past. I wanted to show you that I know what it’s like to be consumed by your past and to find it hard to (I hate the word) ‘move on‘.
But here are the things that I am working on myself and want you to remember:
- Your past is a part of you but it does not define you.
- What happened to you is not your fault.
- You are allowed to feel hurt, your feelings are valid.
- The past is not the future.
- The person you were back then is not who you are now.
- What happens in the future can be molded by you, for the better.
No matter who you are, or what your story is, pain, feelings, thoughts – they are all a part of being human.
Though it feels impossible some days, addressing these things can help you and you can start a new chapter of your life.