Finding Heaven, Living in Hell
For Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma
OK, so here you are, an adult, and you’re supposed to have your life together, you should be settled down, have a steady income, have savings, a home, and a healthy marriage. You should be physically and financially fit. Every day (or at least most of the days) should be a good day. Look around you, especially on social media, everyone else has their life together and is happy… so why aren’t you?
Have you ever thought that? Has your self-talk ever been like a beating behind a woodshed?
Are you feeling lower and lower, like you’re sinking deeper and deeper into the dark pit of despair and hopelessness, and there is no sign of light? Are you being tossed around in the waves of anxiety, fear, and depression and you wish someone would throw you a life preserver and pull you out? Are you hiding from people because it takes so much energy to fake pleasantries anymore and you quit answering your phone, lock the door, pull the shades, then pull the covers back over your head and wish to sleep until life gets better?
Friend, you are not alone. Believe me, I know how hard it is to sort your thoughts when you can’t even speak complete coherent sentences. I know what it feels like to have 5 minutes of hope and then 72 hours of hopelessness. I know what it’s like to want to have a “normal” life of stability, and to feel utterly alone even when you are surrounded by people and feel like a complete failure because no matter what you do it always ends the same.
“If I could just…”
“If only they…”
“But what about…”
Trauma is not something you “just get over.”
Through the years you may learn how to bury it, but it affects the rest of your life if you have not faced it and been healed.
Our earliest relationships are within our family.
We are born with a clean slate; our hearts and minds are like brand new chalkboards not yet written on. The function (or dysfunction) of family sets our expectations for future relationships and sets the standard of what we accept or do not accept. This is where we shape our identity and our worldview. This is where we learn what is safe and what is unsafe. Sadly, if we grow up in abuse (physical, mental, verbal, neglect) then what should be rightly judged as unsafe will be familiar and in adulthood, we will choose unsafe because it is what we know. (Be sure to follow me for more on generational curses)
The Effects of Childhood Trauma
(Note: I use the word “you” in general terms.)
Attachment Issues: You may have trouble with relationships, respecting/setting/maintaining boundaries, empathy, and social isolation. You want to be close to someone, but you struggle with true intimacy and inevitably you push people away from you, or you are attracted to people who will reject you. You have a hard time connecting with someone fully and for the long term.
Physical Health: You have increased medical problems and somatic symptoms; extreme focus on physical symptoms, such as pain or fatigue, and this causes great emotional distress. Prolonged depression, anxiety, and fear can and will wreak havoc on your physical health.
Emotional Regulation: You have difficulty identifying, labeling, and communicating your needs. You may feel like you are always on the “verge.”
Dissociation: You may have altered states of consciousness, amnesia, impaired memory, gaps in memory. No, you’re not “crazy,” this is a coping mechanism.
Cognitive Ability: You may have problems focusing, learning, and processing new information. No, you’re not stupid, your mind is just on overdrive.
Self-Concept: Lack of sense of self, body image issues, low self-esteem, shame, and guilt. Who could blame you? You were set up for this since childhood.
Behavioral Control: You may have difficulty controlling impulses, oppositional behavior, aggression, disrupted sleep and eating patterns, trauma reenactment (rumination), addictions… maybe it’s not Behavioral Control, but Uncontrolled Behavior.
In other words, you don’t do what you want to do, but what you don’t want to do you do.
Yea, I get it. As an adult survivor of childhood trauma, I learned all kinds of coping skills, limping through life on a series of ups and downs, not always making wise choices, failed relationships, pulling up my big girl pants, and leaving the past in the past (or so I thought). But can I tell ya, anything you may think you have buried so deep will eventually show its ugly head and I pray God grants you the wisdom and strength to uproot the toxic lies and abuse, and you allow His Holy Spirit to turn the soil in your soul and replace the childhood wounds with peace, hope, love, and forgiveness. And I hope it doesn’t take until you are in your 50’s like it did me, but even if it does, God is still able.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” -Winston Churchill
Some well-meaning, but misinformed Christians will tell you, “You gotta forgive, and then everything will be better.” Sigh, if only it were that easy, huh.
Of course, you want to come to a place of forgiveness, the Bible has a lot to say about forgiveness. I will add some verses at the end of this post for you to click on to see for yourself what God has to say about forgiveness. Forgiveness is a process and it’s not based on feelings or emotions, rather it is a choice to release them into the hands of a loving and just God. Forgiveness enables you to take responsibility for your healing and growth. It is recognizing that a wrong, an injustice, has been done against you, but with God’s help you choose to let go and move forward into the hope and future God has for you.
The words “I forgive” are not a magical formula, it does not automatically erase the wrongs, and ‘poof!’ it’s as if you have never been wounded. It’s taking the first step to healing, you may have to remind yourself you forgive several times a day, but God the Father is right there extending His hand, grab hold of Him, and trust Him when He says, “Ok, my child, now is the time to throw that rug back and let’s take care of what has been buried under there.”
It is possible to dethrone the triggers that cause you to react in fear, upset, or anger. You may not be able to change the past, but you can control its grip on your future. This can happen by bringing truth to the lies, light to the darkness, acceptance from rejection, and love in the uglies.
Friend, you are no longer the helpless child. You can wave goodbye to pain and embrace life.
Do you want to know how to heal from your past? Do you want to know how to live a life of no regrets? Do you want to know how to hold your head up and walk with dignity, without shame, fear, and anxiety?
There is only one way for lasting healing and wholeness, and the one way is through the One, Jesus the Christ, by His Holy Spirit who is Healer, Comforter, and Deliverer.
If you are ready to step off the merry-go-round of failed relationships, emotional chaos, and unfulfillment, and you want some help (because we all need help sometimes), you can contact me HERE.
Remember, God is for you, He is not against you. He sees and He knows and He cares.
Be Free & Stay Free