5 Reasons My Childhood Trauma Pisses Me Off
If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
What is that I feel? Anger?
It has been seeping through the cracks and bubbling over the surface for a while now, misdirected and unresolved.
But at what? Because it’s not the actual abuse I feel angry about, nor do I feel any anger directed towards my abuser.
Please do not misunderstand; I have plenty of feelings about my abuse and my abuser, but anger?
I know I should be angry. What adult would not be horrified and angered by child abuse? Especially in the manner in which I was abused. My innocence was stolen by a monster in real life; a family secret. I definitely think about being angry a lot. I just do not feel it — not any actual anger about the abuse or at my abuser.
I’ll tell you what does piss me off, though:
1. I am pissed off about the magnitude at which the abuse has affected my life and my relationships.
I have spent over 20 years disassociated from my abuse and from my emotions surrounding it. I never forgot what I went through; I just did not think about it. I bottled it up, packed it away, disconnected from it completely and created my own narrative, my own reality. However, in doing so, I set myself up for a lifetime of extreme emotional responses due to my shallow understanding of what emotion is and how to process it. I either feel nothing or I feel everything and cannot control it. Don’t get me started on trust issues. It is tiring, living a life on alert.
2. I am pissed off that I survived a childhood of abuse, it is over, and I still have to live a lifetime of emotional affects.
When I touch the connection between the adult me and the little girl I used to be, it takes my breath away now that I no longer have the protection of a disassociated mind. I have been diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), and man, what a ride. I do not get to shut this off again. It hurts, and all I can do is learn to live with it.
3. I am pissed off that it takes me more self-awareness in high-stress situations than the average person because I struggle with conditioned negative emotional triggers.
Negative thought processes have been hardwired into my self-perception: “I am not good enough,” “I am not worthy,” “I cannot trust,” “I do not deserve” — my self-confidence is shot. Of course, the adult mind knows these things are not true. Of course, I can still be mature and professional, giving an air of confidence when needed. However, deep down it’s a constant struggle, an internal conflict. Due to this, the average confrontation, even constructive criticism, is interpreted by my brain as one of the aforementioned cognitions and it triggers heightened responses from me. I have lost jobs over this, relationships strained, and the mental fatigue of hypervigilance is hard to describe. Now, as I learn to navigate this, I realize it will always take a little extra on my part.
4. I am pissed off that at any given time, wherever I am, whomever I am with, I can slip into a flashback that leaves me shaken and anxious with a mental hangover for days. And I am angry that all I can do is learn to cope with flashbacks, not make them stop.
What do I even say about this? It is self-explanatory. My mind highjacks me and then drops me with no regard, wherever I may land when it is done. Most of my flashbacks are just images that interrupt me during normal daily activity; occasionally, I have lost time. I never know when they are coming, or what will cause them. A smell, a song, a passage in a book, a scene on TV; there is no stopping them, there is only coping. It is no way to live.
5. I am pissed off that statistics show changes in my brain, and living a life in a heightened state of stress may shorten my life expectancy.
I had no choice in the matters of my childhood. I did not get a say in the abuse I endured, or the physiological changes happening in my developing brain as it rewired itself to protect me from dangers I didn’t understand. Now, I am left to pick up the pieces and live with the long-term health effects of a life lived in hypervigilance, pumping adrenaline and cortisol through my veins, stressing my heart and my arteries. My chances of heart attack and stroke are increased; my body’s natural responses to the abuse I survived may very well shorten my life.
I have suffered enough, and now, as I learn and heal, I realize my suffering does not end. Grief over childhood trauma does not go away. The weight of innocence loss leaves a mark on the soul.
So, I am angry!
I’m downright pissed off!
I grieve my lost childhood and the abuse I was subjected to; I feel betrayed and unloved, exploited and damaged by my abuser and the family who protected him.
But my anger… my anger is at the unfair lifelong effects I now have to learn to balance in order to live a full and connected life.
Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash