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Jane Doe

Childhood Trauma

I know that there are still painful memories from childhood which I cannot bring to awareness. Sometimes I will seek out stimuli which reminds me of childhood, in order to try and bring back these memories, or even something close. In particular, I use the Internet to seek out the theme tunes from children’s television programmes I watched.

It evokes a particular feeling, a most overpowering feeling. It is the feeling of loneliness. I remember that feeling, even from infancy. The feeling is imbued with a sense that, even though I grew up in a household with three other human beings, I was still alone. They were not awake, they were not conscious, they were not switched on. They were automatons, going through the motions of their lives with little regard for the feelings of a small child. Which is why, even in the moments from childhood in which I perceived happiness, I still perceived sadness, too. Actual maladjusted behaviour, such as me scratching another child, or constantly drawing in books, was given little attention, nor was the possibility of addressing my ‘problems’ – which were really just a manifestation of trauma. It is telling that my Mother owned a book entitled ‘Helping Troubled Children’. I could summarise everything she needed to know about that topic in one short sentence: stop troubling them in the first place. I was not born troubled.

Things happened, which caused severe and profound psychological and emotional damage, and then I ‘acted out’ in a multitude of ways. And then my family critiqued my behaviour, ‘punishing’ me for my actions, whilst complaining about my behaviours. Friends of the family and extended family were told what a problem I was, how my behaviour was ‘bad’, therefore I was bad. But they caused it, mostly. Being subjected to constant ridicule, emotional neglect, being dragged by my feet by one of my parents and witnessing my other parent wrestling my Sister to the floor, then lying on top of her whilst screaming and pushing her can do that to a child. I can still feel it, if I think about it for long enough. That feeling; the feeling of sheer, unadulterated horror I felt in that moment, as I stood there, paralysed with shock, feeling small and helpless, desperately trying, with my five-year-old mind to process the fear, anguish and shame of my Sister. I probably attempted to rationalise the event by reasoning that my Sister must have done something really ‘bad’ to warrant such behaviour, even though nobody deserves such treatment, ever.

All human beings respond differently to trauma, and this is something worth bearing in mind. No two human beings will have an identical trauma imprint. There are different degrees of sensitivity, different dispositions, different predispositions. What is particularly sad is when a person such as myself realizes what a serious impact their childhood has had on them and is shamed into silence by their family. No discussion, even a civilized, calm, rational one, without raised voices, is considered acceptable. I do not even want to have a problem with my parents. I want to love them, I want to move past the things they did which have caused lasting damage. But if a person is actually shamed out of their perspective by the very society in which they live, and their family of origin, this is difficult to do. I shall end this article with an extremely revealing insight regarding what I have outlined above. I would be terrified of the possibility of either my Mother or Father reading what I have written above, and I would be terrified for two reasons: 1) I would be rejected, condemned, shamed and pushed away; dismissed as bad. 2) Their rage, based on demonstrations I have seen of it in my distant past, would be frightening to the point that I would be at risk of a heart attack.

This kind of tells a person everything they need to know.

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