Those who experience emotional, physical or other types of abuse as children may have trouble processing what happened to them. In fact, it’s fairly common for young abuse victims to block out any memory of the adverse events that they went through. However, repressing memories or otherwise failing to come to terms with these events may lead to more trouble as an adult.
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You Seek Out Toxic Relationships
If you spent most of your childhood being taken advantage of, you may have trouble believing that you are deserving of love or respect. Alternatively, you may believe that snarky comments, physical abuse or other toxic behaviors are simply byproducts of being in a relationship. Ultimately, you may find it easier to relate to people who are manipulative, physically abusive or otherwise don’t have your best interests at heart.
You Tend to Push People Away
You may feel as if your past makes you unworthy of love or acceptance. Therefore, instead of trying to develop healthy long-term relationships, you look for any excuse to keep people out of your life. You may also feel as if anyone who shows kindness or unconditional acceptance is somehow trying to get something from the relationship. By keeping that person out of your life, there is no danger of getting hurt even if that danger is something that you’ve concocted in your own mind.
You Have Intense Reactions to Mundane Events
Trauma could cause you to become especially sensitive to certain smells, sounds or other seemingly mundane triggers. In some cases, you may not even realize that something is a trigger until you find yourself crying because you saw a red car or heard a bird chirping in the park. Those who don’t know about your past may believe that you are immature or suffer from some sort of mental illness. In fact, you may also believe that these reactions are the result of a mental illness or something other than a response to childhood trauma.
You Hate to Lose Control
Over time, you may feel that the best way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim is to micromanage every aspect of your life. For instance, you may choose to live in a particular apartment building because it has a specific type of security system. You may choose to work for a company that allows you to perform tasks from home because it means interacting with fewer people.
If you have to move from your apartment or find a new job, you may experience a variety of intense negative emotions. Of course, your feelings have less to do with the fact that you have to find a new place to live than it does with the feeling that you don’t feel safe.
Intense stress may result in physical ailments such as high blood pressure, obesity or grinding your teeth. It may also exacerbate existing physical or mental health issues such as ADHD or PTSD.
You’re Consistently Inconsistent
Depending on how you feel, you may vacillate between not wanting people in your life to doing everything you can to make friends or find a romantic partner. You may believe that your self-worth is tied to your ability to find a partner. Therefore, you will simply agree to date or live with the first person you meet at a bar or at your friend’s social event.
Of course, you may find yourself wanting nothing more than to exit that relationship if that person isn’t as committed to it as you are. This may be true even if you have just met this individual and are in the stage of the courtship when neither person is expected to be exclusive with the other.
You may also cheat on a partner or take other actions to sabotage a long-term relationship because you assume that person is better off without you. After making such an impulsive decision, you may be willing to do whatever it takes to get that person back even if the relationship is now permanently tainted.
Handling Criticism Isn’t Your Strong Suit
As a victim of childhood trauma, you already feel as if you don’t have the right to exist. Therefore, any criticism that you receive from your boss, spouse or best friend may be perceived as a cheap shot or uncalled for. This may be true even if the feedback that you receive is couched in positive language or is a valid critique of something that you have said or done.
An inability to take constructive feedback from your boss may make it harder to hold a job or advance in your career. An inability to handle negative interactions with colleagues or customers may also hold you back as you may be seen as unstable or lacking in the skills needed to be a leader.
You may also find that people simply don’t want to associate with you because they can’t be vulnerable in your presence. This may only serve to deepen any feelings of guilt or anxiety that you already carry and may simply reinforce your perception that you aren’t worthy of love or affection.
You Get Too Deep Inside Your Own Head
One of the problems of feeling as if you don’t belong is that you don’t think that anyone wants to hear about your problems. Therefore, instead of talking to a friend, family member or therapist, you simply keep your thoughts bottled up inside where no one can judge or criticize them.
While you may feel that you are the best judge of what is happening to you, this is not always the case. For instance, you may think that your friend isn’t returning a text message because that person hates you. However, it’s possible that your friend is simply busy at work, driving home or is otherwise unable to engage in conversation.
There is also a chance that those around you aren’t as engaging as you’d like because they also suffer from anxiety or are socially awkward for reasons you don’t understand. The fact that you lack the capacity to see things from other points of view may cause you to overlook those possibilities and immediately assume the worst.
You May Take Unnecessary Risks
If you don’t feel like you have any inherent value as a person, you might not worry about your health and safety. You might also feel as if there is no point in worrying about how your actions might impact others. Ultimately, you may be at a greater risk of taking drugs, consuming large quantities of alcohol or spending hours every day at the casino.
In some cases, you may take unnecessary risks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is because these substances tend to lower your inhibitions and increase your pain tolerance. You may also be more vulnerable to spending money on food, items that you see on the internet or other goods or services that you don’t need or wouldn’t buy while sober.
In an effort to obtain money to buy drugs or pay other expenses, you may engage in prostitution or other criminal enterprises. If you are convicted of a crime, it may cause you to become further isolated from whatever support system you do have. The presence of a criminal record or a substance abuse issue might also make it harder to find a job or maintain custody of your kids.
If you believe that you are struggling as an adult because of childhood trauma, it may be worthwhile to speak with a mental health professional. The folks at Recreate Life Counseling offer a variety of services that are tailored to meet your needs. You can get in touch with us today to learn more about our services or to enroll in a program.