Can I get over my childhood trauma and learn to love someone?
It will take courage, says our elder, but find a good therapist and start to claim the happiness you deserve.
Hello, long story short, I’ve been through trauma as a child (child abuse emotionally and physically) and never had a healthy relationship to look up to or reference. Two years ago, I came home the day after being promoted at work to find my parents no longer wanted me. They locked me out of my own house and the only way to get my things was calling the police. The police gave me 10 minutes to get my things and then I was tossed to the curb. I lived with my estranged aunt for six months (in constant fear of being thrown out by her as my cousins were not fond of my family). Six months later I found my own little house, picked up my career, and fought to recover from nightmares (of having 10 minutes to collect my belongings while my parents yell and hit me) and anxiety. A few weeks ago, I tried something I never did before – dating. I met a nice guy and for three weeks we chatted. I was filled with anxiety. My body felt like it was so scared to be touched or loved. My panic attacks and shakes returned. I had to tell him that I couldn’t see him anymore. My subconscious mind built a defense mechanism to protect me – even though I’m safe now in my little home. I want to be loved. I want to trust that I won’t get hurt but I can’t. I feel so alone and everyone else can get on with a relationship so easily. Why was I born to be hurt as a child and alone as an adult? I wish I could be happy. Appreciate any advice I can get. How do you love someone? How do you trust someone? How do I let my body ‘fall’ in love?
I’m so glad you wrote to us, and I’m sorry you had such an abusive and traumatic childhood. I thought the title of your letter sounded very brave, and reading your letter confirmed for me that you have a lot of courage. You survived being evicted by your parents and living for six months with your aunt, all that time in constant fear of being thrown out once again. Now you have your own little home and are safe at last from anyone telling you to leave – in my opinion that takes real commitment and courage.
I have to tell you, that although it is possible, it’s very difficult to recover from years of abuse and learn to love and trust again without some kind of professional help. It’s not your body that has to learn to accept love – it’s your mind and your heart. As you said, your subconscious mind is still protecting you from hurt, although the threat really isn’t there anymore. I think you need to find a good therapist who will help you get past all the hurts and abuse of the past, teach you ways to deal with your anxiety and show you that you are more than worthy of loving and being loved.
It sounds to me as if your self-esteem has also taken quite a beating from all the abuse of the past and somehow your parents have convinced you that you’re not lovable. That can cause anxiety and panic when you feel you’re getting close to someone or you’re in a situation that is out of your comfort zone. You can do a lot to help yourself regain some confidence and self-esteem – if you Google “how to increase self-esteem” you’ll find many websites with ideas and suggestions. Just pick a few things that you think will work for you and practice them diligently and I think you’ll find your confidence growing and with that, your anxiety lessening.
All that being said, you sound to me like a young woman who has a lot of love to give and who deserves to be loved in return. It’s going to take more of that courage you have (and yes, it does take courage to make a career and home for yourself after all you’ve been through) to reach out for some professional help and claim a bright and loving future for yourself.
Wishing you the very, very best and sending you a warm, virtual hug. Please feel free to write back if you want to talk more. I’m always here to listen.
Article #: 468269