Children can be exposed to traumatic events early in their lives.
This could mean experiencing a loss, such as the death of someone close to them, or being displaced from their home. Trauma can also occur from having to cope with an illness or being exposed to violence.
Whatever the reason, the impact of childhood trauma can continue far into a person’s adult years.
And that can have a profound impact on their lives, their emotions, and their relationships with others. How so?
Being “Stuck” in the Past
For many adults, the impact of childhood trauma can leave them feeling “stuck.” If they have not fully processed and integrated the trauma into their lives, these people remain in that same emotional state as when they were young.
This means that, mentally, they are always on the defensive, fearful that they will once again be exposed to danger. Because their emotions are frozen in this fearful state, it’s that much harder to be able to move on, let alone lead a functional life as an adult.
Struggling with Daily Reminders of Trauma
Another problem for adults who are struggling with the impact of childhood trauma is that there can be reminders of their trauma in their daily lives. When exposed to those reminders, these adults will become more watchful, more fearful, and more prone to maintaining a position to protect themselves.
This reaction happens either very openly (in public) or privately (within the confines of their mind). For example, a song plays over the P.A. system at the grocery store. For most everyone else, the song means nothing bad. However, for someone impacted by childhood trauma, that very song could be a reminder of a terrible time in their life, bringing up a wellspring of emotions.
Revisiting the Trauma Again and Again
Because the emotions connected to trauma can be so strong, they can cause a person to revisit the trauma again and again in their minds.
Maybe there are times when it’s possible for them to push those memories to the back of the mind. This could make it somewhat possible for them to function in daily life. Yet, the unprocessed trauma is always there, waiting for a reminder or thought to bring it to the surface again.
As you can imagine, having to live with this can be very distressing for someone who witnessed or experienced trauma as a child and has yet to be able to process it.
Feeling Misunderstood as an Adult
In adulthood victims of childhood trauma may feel misunderstood. One reason is that they may feel no one else understands what it was like for them as a child. And this can lead to isolation, resentment, and even anger.
When that anger is released, it affects other people in a trauma victim’s life. And that can lead to even more misunderstandings, more hurt feelings, and more loss in the form of broken relationships. Over the years, the trauma just keeps adding more pain to the victim, even though they did nothing to deserve such emotions.
Turning to Substance Abuse
Sadly, because the impact of childhood trauma can lead to such strong and intense emotions, many adults try to manage them through substance use.
This seems illogical, yet it makes sense to a victim of trauma. Why? Because substances help to dull the emotional pain and act as an escape from the demons that haunt them.
Of course, we know this is only a temporary solution. After the effect of the substances wears off, the trauma comes roaring back. Worse even, long-term substance abuse can cause severe psychological and physical damage to someone who is struggling with trauma.
We know that, if left untreated, the impact of childhood trauma can cause many problems for a person well into adulthood. Since their deepest emotions are never resolved, they linger on to create more and more damage over time.
However, therapeutic treatment for trauma can help mend those emotional wounds. I would love to help you overcome the impact of childhood trauma in your life and help you heal. Please, contact me.