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I’m just existing…

What happens when childhood trauma impacts your adult life?

Our elder counsels that looking back may be painful, but it’s the first step to moving forward.

Dear EWC:

I’ve been struggling with childhood trauma – I guess all my adult life. I feel as if I never fully grew-up and struggle to make lasting relationships. Whether it is friends, colleagues, or even now in my relationship. It’s as if we are roommates and I’m mostly fine with that. I am able-bodied and I would consider myself relatively smart. Which makes my depression even worse. I could be achieving so much and helping so many people. And I’m just washing away, wasting oxygen.

I wouldn’t say I’m suicidal, but I do feel like my existence is for nothing. I never finish a task or project and I’ll leave friendships/relationships behind and I justify it because in my head I always think, ‘they are going to do it anyway.”

Shorty replies:

I am very sorry that you are feeling sad and as if you are just existing and not living your life. I am also sad to hear that you experienced childhood trauma. Although trauma and bad things we experience in childhood leave a mark on our personalities and self-worth, we can learn to overcome the pattern of feeling not good enough or not worthy of being loved and cherished. It’s that feeling of not being worthy which leads to your defensive actions of leaving before you get hurt or disappointed.

Acknowledging what has happened in the past and how you feel about it is a good first step toward changing your internal picture of yourself. Try to remember that as a child, it very likely wasn’t your responsibility or fault when people hurt or disappointed you — troubled people have emotional problems of their own and cope by making others hurt more than they do. I know this doesn’t erase or excuse whatever happened to you, but maybe you can think back and see how you might have been just a convenient bystander or an emotional target rather than an unlovable being.
My suggestion to you is to seek out a therapist or a counselor who has experience with trauma and trust issues, and allow yourself to share your feelings, your past, and your challenges with them. It takes perseverance and practice to learn to redirect negative thoughts about ourselves and our feelings of worthlessness to be able to feel fully loved and respected.

Doubting yourself makes taking this action harder, but I have faith that you can do it for yourself and your future. I know you can find the best of what life can offer as you learn that people are truly ready to love you. Best wishes to you and your journey ahead!

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One Comment

  1. Thank you sincerely for your second paragraph, it said more than anything I’ve heard or read previously.

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