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How Abuse From My Childhood Affects My Anxiety as an Adult

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Editor’s note: If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

I didn’t have an ideal childhood. When I was 8, my father left. He was physically abusive towards my mother and siblings and myself, he was sexually abusive towards me for many years and as I child, I was very restricted to what I could do and wasn’t allowed to show emotion.

All this still affects me to this day.

I don’t like going to unfamiliar places. Recently, I had to go into a shop I had never been to before. I knew it was open from the sign on the door, however, I still had to ring the shop while I was standing outside to reassure myself it was open. I then had to wait for someone else to enter or exit the shop just to be certain the automatic door would work and I would not just walk into it. I feel like this is caused from my father leaving me in shops and cafes as a small child until they closed and sent me away.

I struggle with going out to dinner or even just grabbing a coffee with anyone. I will make myself so anxious about it for weeks before and I end up canceling at the last minute. I feel like this is caused by not being allowed to go places as a child. I would get invited to parties and sleepovers however I was always told I could not go.

I have self-harmed. Honestly this is one I feel is caused by a whole combination of things, not all stemming from my childhood. However, recently I was reminded that as a small child, I would constantly bang my head against a brick wall. Now that I am older, I am certain I was self-harming then, too.

I’m afraid of being touched. I can’t handle people touching me. It makes me feel anxious and uncomfortable. If I touch or hug someone, then I really trust that person and feel comfortable enough to know they won’t hurt me. I feel like this comes from being sent to my room as a child if I cried. I was also called names for being upset. I was never just comforted and talked to. I was made to go away like I was doing the wrong thing.

I remember for my 16th birthday, my mother asked me what I wanted and all I wanted was a hug. I wanted human touch. I can’t remember what I got, but I didn’t get a hug.

I’m terrified of sex. I can’t even fathom how people willingly have sex. I know this stems from years of abuse in my childhood and even from an event as an adult. It’s a sad feeling when you watch a movie and sex looks so wonderful, yet I’m terrified of it.

I’m afraid of traveling alone. I would love to be able to book a holiday to somewhere exotic or even somewhere I’ve lived previously, but I can’t. I currently have an accommodation booked for a holiday in December and I am hoping this time I’ll face my fears and do it. I think this fear is from when I was younger when I was always told I could not go on excursions or just go away for the weekend as a teenager and even in my 20s. My mother would tell me I could not go and I would miss her too much if I left.

I struggle with socialization. When I was younger and even as a young adult, I was not allowed to see my friends outside of work or school. I now struggle with conversing with others and am sometimes rude or crude because I am so unsure of what to say and struggle to know the appropriate words.

I know to some people these issues might seem silly and I’ve had people tell me to “get over it,” but when you are raised to act in a certain way, for some people, it continues on. I still feel like if I do something as an adult that I was not allowed to as a child, I am doing the wrong thing.

Because I missed a lot of necessary childhood experiences, I get anxious now in situations I should have experienced as a child. I’m determined to overcome these obstacles, but I don’t know how long it will take me. One thing I have learned from this is that childhood issues continue on for some people. I know if I have a child, I will make sure they have rules, but if my child wants to cry, I will be right there with them. I won’t ever tell anyone it’s not OK to cry.

The message I want others to know though is it’s OK to have issues from your childhood as an adult. It doesn’t mean you are broken or damaged. And if someone says you are, please consider that person’s place in your life. As an adult, I’m going to learn things many children know already and I’m not ashamed. I no longer feel guilty for wanting to be happy.

If you or a loved one is affected by domestic violence or emotional abuse and need help, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure.

Originally published: July 5, 2017
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