You are not Exaggerating!!! Here's How You Get a Better Understanding of your Childhood Wounds.
"Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive."- Danielle Bernock
"Panic gripped her heart, his loud screaming, sending her anxiety into overdrive. For the nth time, she questioned herself "what did I do to deserve this?", "why do I always end up loving men who don't value me?", "why do I keep making excuses for his terrible behavior?"
"Am I not good enough for decent men?" Even when I love him with everything that I have and more, he always takes me for granted, they all do."
"I didn't plan to fall so deep in love with her. We were fine with casual flirting. What if she hurts me? What if she rejects me? I am not good enough for her. She deserves a better person. I can't love her the way she deserves. I should push her away. I shall run away before she realizes am not worth it."
Sounds familiar, eh? A lot of people have gone through similar experiences and/or are going through this. Yet this vicious cycle doesn't seem to end. Sometimes it takes too long to spot the signs. A large majority is oblivious to the blaring red flags in their relationships.
On the other hand, some people are self saboteurs. They sabotage every good thing that happens in their lives in the fear of losing them. All this fear, constantly walking on eggshells, going so far as to tolerate abuse, whether physical or emotional, for the mere breadcrumbs they throw us in the name of love or acceptance.
It's brutal. It's self-abandonment. It's exhausting.
It takes a toll on our mental health, our self-esteem, and our sense of self-worth.
Do we ever pause to reflect on why does it keeps happening to us? Where did we go wrong? For how long will we keep living such a life? We don't have to, you know. There's a way out.
In my last article, I talked about the art of introspection. Yes, that is the key to understanding our patterns. It is this very introspection that leads us to this point. We need to understand our childhood environment, our family dynamics, our earliest interactions with our caregivers to recognize the how's and why's of the behavioral patterns we exhibit as adults.
"The greater a child's terror, and the earlier it is experienced, the harder it becomes to develop a strong and healthy sense of self." - Nathaniel Branden
All these patterns arise right from childhood when we face neglect, coddling, over criticism, bullying, unmet emotional and physical needs, etc. And since the age bracket of 0-10 years is where we develop our emotional range and cognitive abilities, it makes such a deep impression in our subconscious that we unknowingly develop dysfunctional behavioral patterns that affect our adult interactions and relationships if gone unheeded.
"Many abused children cling to the hope that growing up will bring escape and freedom. But the personality formed in the environment of coercive control is not well adapted to adult life. The survivor is left with fundamental problems in basic trust, autonomy, and initiative. She approaches the task of early adulthood―establishing independence and intimacy―burdened by major impairments in self-care, in cognition, and in memory, in identity, and in the capacity to form stable relationships. She is still a prisoner of her childhood; attempting to create a new life, she re-encounters the trauma." - Judith Lewis Herman
So what exactly are these wounds that we keep talking about?
Childhood wounds can be roughly divided into two broad categories, based on the parent or parent figure, who might or might not, knowingly, have inflicted upon the children in their families.
The Mother Wound: The wounds we experience from maternal figures in our lives, not necessarily mother always, can be a grandmother or an aunt or even an elder sister.
So what are mother wounds and how do they manifest in our lives?
Weak or a Lack of boundaries
You find it difficult to say 'NO' or honor your space. This wound arises from seeing your maternal figures 'people please' incessantly and putting their own needs last.
This often leads to an inability to fully express your truth, your desires, and people-pleasing tendencies.
You constantly feel the need to apologize or feel unnecessarily guilty for taking space. If anything good happens in your life, you feel like you don't deserve it.
You often end up experiencing co-dependent relationships where either of the partners relies too much on the other to make them feel happy or heal them emotionally. You fear being alone to the point that you rely on others to fill the void in your heart. You wait for others permission to follow your heart's desire and intuition. The savior complex and the victim-hood complexes are the two ends of this very spectrum.
"I am not good enough" becomes the narrative of the person. You constantly compare yourselves to others and experience jealousy and bitterness as a result. You struggle with understanding who you are and often tend to believe the opinions that others hold about you.
The Father Wound: The trauma experienced from the actions and behaviors of paternal figures in our lives.
This is how these manifest in our lives.
If your father wasn't fully present in your life, you may experience a lack of trust in yourself and/or others, especially those who hold authority over us. This can manifest in attracting people who mirror back your lack of trust in you.
Not good enough
If a paternal figure was very hard on you, this can manifest as a lack of self-worth or being good enough. Feeling like you want more and are never satisfied with what you have.
If a paternal figure was emotionally unavailable or absent, this may show up as attracting unavailable partners. Relationships will often burn out or lose the spark after a while and you'll be quick to jump into the next one. You will feel perpetual loneliness and fear of being left.
If your father abused your mother or you experienced abuse yourself from him, then you may have internally normalized the behavior and think that's how relationships are supposed to work. If he was very controlling or dominating, you may have learned to suppress your truth and struggle to set boundaries.
So, by revisiting your memory when you recognize the certain pattern in your life, you can identify the root cause, put a name to the emotion you have previously struggled to comprehend, and begin the process of forgiveness, healing, understanding the concept of boundaries and learn to enforce them.
Now, the thing that should be understood here is that it's not necessary that it was done intentionally. Sometimes our elders don't know any better because they are mirroring and/or projecting their own childhood experiences, it might be that they come from extremely dysfunctional families themselves and are a victim of the same generational abuse and trauma as you.
What they lacked is a sense of awareness. And maybe you don't need to keep tolerating the same behavior in the name of love or a sense of duty, but at least you can show some kindness in your heart so that you don't end up with bottled-up anger and resentment.
In my next blog, I will tell you about coping and moving on from this childhood trauma and learning to re-parent your wounded inner child.
"To the extent that we project responsibility for a dysfunction outside ourselves, we cannot change it. Wherever the wound came from, however many years ago, its healing lies not in the past, but in the present. Your subconscious will continue to trigger the wound for along as it takes- a fifty years old experiencing a five-years-old pain- until you allow it to be healed."
Have you come across any such childhood experience. We would love to hear from you. Leave your comments below to share how have you overcome with the crisis in your life.
McBride, K. (2013). Will I ever be good enough? Healing the daughters of narcissistic mothers
LePera, Nicole (2021). How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self