I will never say that my trauma in childhood was a positive thing. In an ideal world there would be no such thing. However, for many of us it is a fact of life. Most of us have had some degree of trauma experience, some more significant than others and we all deal with it differently. It is scientifically accepted that our childhood experiences mould who we are in adulthood. That moulding looks very different for individuals also, even in people with similar traumatic experience. It’s no different for me. After many years of therapy I can recognise my trauma behaviours. What I have learned through childhood trauma has most definitely influenced me throughout my life. Those different lessons have shown up at different stages of my life, but it’s getting the trauma traits to work in your favour and together that makes the difference. There have been times when the same trait has been both negative and positive.
I have learned to be adaptive to environments and situations that were difficult to cope with, that’s for sure. I’m one of those people who has experienced a whole spectrum of adversity and survived. However, at times I also became resilient to change and acceptance also. I dug my heels in at times when I needed to let go and accept I was a mess and that I needed help. When resilience is required constantly, it can harden your heart a little. You can also come to a point where you just cannot keep up the fight. This can be a good or bad thing depending on who or what is around at the time. Letting your guard down leaves you open to help or harm. Getting the balance right can be tricky.
Again, getting the balance right with empathy is important. At one point, and for many years, my empathy ruled my entire life. I gave all of myself to anyone who wanted or needed me. Because of my vast experience in the area of trauma, I understand how people feel and think and can be there for people in ways others can’t be. However, this led to extreme co-dependence, and I ended up exhausted and resentful. I understood the pain of others so deeply that I couldn’t stand them feeling that much pain. So I fixed and tried to control. I still have tendencies towards that behaviour but I’m getting better at letting people have consequences for their own actions and learning their own lessons.
Despite my awful experiences, I do laugh a lot. My humour can be dark, which is an Irish trait anyway, but mix that in with a dash of dysfunction and you have have a recipe for comedic gold. I laugh at myself endlessly. Yes it can be a coping mechanism, but it’s one that helps me see things from a different perspective. Sometimes things aren’t as dark as they seem and a little humour brings that realisation.
I’ve used creativity as an outlet since childhood. I’ve always written and my imagination is vivid and complex. Being hyper vigilant due to trauma brought with it a focus on detail and being able to read a room expertly. This in turn makes me a good story teller and writer without too much effort. Many who have experienced trauma use creativity as a form of expression. Creativity is good for the soul, heart and mind.
I’m lucky that my experiences have brought wisdom. Of course, before the wisdom came self destruction, but I view that also as progress. For the most part I can reflect, learn and evolve from all my experiences and behaviours. Now if I regress back into an on old behaviour pattern, I can’t kid myself. I immediately know when I’m creating disastrous circumstances and make informed choices on how to proceed. I don’t always make the right choices per se, but at least they are informed ones.
As an adult, I can choose to continue to live in my past or move on from it. That’s the freedom I live with today. I’m a very strong individual, but still human and prone to mess up if I want to. It’s taken awhile to get where I’m at and I continue to evolve and grown from what I have learned through childhood trauma.