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What I Would Do If I Could Remove the Trauma and Pain From My Childhood

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If I could change it, I would start where the worst begins. I would go back to that childhood and take away the fear. Minute by minute, I would watch the hurt disappear as the memories hidden by trauma reappear, but this time with a “normal” family unit willing to fight for each other, instead of against each other. The yelling would cease, the fights replaced with game nights. No longer would there be a need for a hiding place, and no longer would there be judgment because the cops were there again. If I could change it all, that’s where I would start.

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If I could change it, I would go back and give that middle school girl a hug, the one that is heartbroken because her dad pushed her away and her mom is drinking more and more each night. I’d hug her as hard as I could and whisper in her ear that it’s going to be alright. Then I would take away the alcohol, the pills, the lying and manipulation. The games of “he said / she said” would be forever banished and parents would be able to be trusted at their word, without fear or questioning.

If I could change it, I would be there when that older boy showed up during summer break and kept coming back day after day, chasing his desires. I’d give that broken girl the guts and know-how to stop him, to protect herself before he destroyed her.

If I could change it, I would grab that mom by her arm and make her show up for her kids. No longer would that girl be alone at every school function and event, or worse, no longer would she have to get her drunk parent out of bed in the morning. If I had the power to change it now, the remaining parent would be a parent because that girl deserved it.

If I could change it now, I’d pull that girl to the side and give her a stern talking to about still following her dreams no matter what tries to stop them. It wouldn’t matter what someone said or the actions that others did against her; she would chase her dreams with wild abandonment.

If I could change it now, the last year would disappear. There wouldn’t be a reason for the breakdown, for the depression, the anxiety, the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If it was changed, there wouldn’t have been the trauma that slowly caused the inability to do life. The days spent in bed, too tired to move or work would be gone. The panic attacks in front of strangers would never have happened. The friends you’re slowly “burdening” to the point of harm because you just need help would still be in a healthy place themselves. No longer would those memories come that haunt, and the cuts and bruises from self-harm would be non-existent.

If only I could have changed it.

But if I could have changed it, I wouldn’t have the bravery, the knowledge, the spirit, the gumption, the heart and the strength I do now. If it changed, I would lose all that I have learned. If I was somehow able to change it, I wouldn’t hold my kids and husband as tight as I do, I wouldn’t cherish the littlest moments or the “I love mom” coffee cup. If things were different, I wouldn’t be who I am now, and that’s a fighter. I fight for my kids, I fight for my marriage, I fight to restore my past and I fight most of all to change my life so I know that the past has shaped me but not  defined me.

Yes, life was tough a long time ago. Bad things happened. Life hurt and then hurt again and again until it splintered apart into a thousand tiny pieces. But if I never had the bad, I wouldn’t cling to the good and cherish it as I do.

Life is worth living. We can’t change the bad; we can’t erase the hurt. The trauma will still be there, the pain fresh for years and years. But life is worth living. You can’t change the past, but you can start now and change the future.


Getty image via alev gunebakanli.

Originally published: October 18, 2019
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