Everyone of us struggle with wounds that we picked up from childhood. Emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual, soul wounds. Some of us heal and go on to lead relatively okay to amazing lives, some of us unfortunately never do. Some of us seem to be okay until the unhealed wounds start to creep up and out and that’s when life starts to unravel. Buried wounds have a way of creeping back up into our lives, begging to be healed, especially if we continue putting or being put in situations which scrape at those wounds – it delays and even cancels out the healing that you may be doing.
Even if we did have a relatively safe and secure childhood, with an intact loving family and great parents, there would still be some wounds and scars left behind from how our child selves engaged with people and our worlds back then.
I promised to share my story and this is what I am about to do. I’ve not shared it anyplace else before though – not even some of my closest friends knew what happened as I’ve only opened up to certain people. But I am doing that now so that you know that you aren’t alone in carrying around your childhood wounds, and that, it may have unknowingly left behind a destructive path in our adulthood. Also know that if you want to – it can be completely healed. I’ve done it, it’s not an easy or short journey but it can absolutely be done, and I want to show you how.
So onto my childhood story…
I had my own childhood wounds as well, quite a few in fact, that I buried deep within me and carried straight into adolescence and adulthood. My parents came from relatively poor families – lots of kids and not much attention or nurturing given by their parents, who themselves came from the “stiff upper lip” generation. So lots of holding back on love and alot of punishment. My dad lost his dad at a very young age – a great loss for him at just 9 years old and was the token “black sheep” of the family. My mum grew up feeling unseen and unloved by her mother. Her dad whom she was closer to died very suddenly 2 years before I was born which devastated her. She was also raised by a step-grandmother who did alot of with-holding from my mum – of opportunities, of food and just didn’t treat her well.
So these 2 people with their own deep unhealed wounds met, decided to marry. Fast-forward many decades and now my dad was physically, emotionally and verbally abusive to mum. Slaps, punches, crying, heated quarrels were frequent – she was slapped 3 days after marriage because of a comment she made. This dynamic carried on after I was born and continued up to my 20s. They could never bring themselves to get a divorce because the world out there was scarier than staying in an abusive marriage (for my mum).
I grew up not being able to predict my dad’s moods or emotions – he could go from silence to violent anger in a minute, triggered by the smallest most innocuous things, like someone putting the telephone back on its hook “the wrong way”. I developed a sort of vigilance around the house – always trying to “feel out” if a fight was going to happen, to be ready to break it up. I also developed childhood anxiety – something I had no idea of, so was left unchecked until I was in my late 20s – was anxious whenever he was in his religious “mode”, anxious about the weekends, anxious whenever he came home – cause those were the times they fought the most. I could never sleep in on weekends cause I felt I had to wake up and be alert to a potential fight. To this day, I can’t properly sleep in when I’m back in my childhood home. So these experiences do leave scars.
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My mum didn’t really help things by constantly telling me “bad stuff” about my dad and confiding in me – a mere child – about their marital problems. It ended with me constantly siding with my mum til my early 20s when I realised she also had some major flaws in her perceptions of things and her judgment was always right.
On top of all the tumultuous stuff in my family – I was an only child so friendships provided solace, but I always seemed to befriend emotionally unsupportive people – I was also bullied quite abit at school. Be it people who were just straight up racist (I am of mixed ethnicity and incredibly proud of it today) or people who were just jealous as I was quite an all-round achiever back then. But I seemed to attract alot of these types of toxic people into my life and it continued right up to my late 20s.
Here’s how it affected my teenage and adult life…
Fights, noise and conflict are incredibly triggering and for a long time, I had no idea how to assert myself with confidence, I was either incredibly passive or incredibly aggressive, there was no in between. I struggled with low self-esteem and a poor self-image all throughout my life and it really affected my romantic life. I couldn’t bring myself to show interest in guys I was interested in (as I never thought they would be into me) and always came off cold and constantly told myself I was ugly. As such, I didn’t date as much as I wanted to and it’s one of the small regrets I have from my life. I would not dream big and struggled to apply to jobs and take on opportunities that I really wanted.
I also kept myself invisible and small, avoided speaking up in class, avoided leadership positions though I loved them and shied away from alot of social groups, though I wanted so badly to be part of them as I enjoy being with people. At the same time though, I craved attention and recognition. Craved it. And usually got it through means that made me feel very unlike myself and very embarrassed.
I still struggle with anxiety today but it has been much, SO MUCH better in recent years. Though I still feel triggered by travel, rushing around to meet a timeline is incredibly stress-inducing and I avoid jobs that are very fast paced because of this.
I had abandonment issues. And I didn’t discover it until early this year when I was working through some things in my life. Through the years, I’d latch myself to friends/dates/lovers, get really intense about them and feel utterly betrayed and abandoned when they had new friends, new chapters in their lives etc. The lack of emotional nurturing and care in childhood meant that I was very drawn to people who were “nice” to me and didn’t vet friends/romantic partners very well.
I also had very unhealthy beliefs about relationships and love – “relationships suck, men suck”, “I’ll never find someone I love” etc. And I suffered alot from limerance – basically a form of romantic addiction to men in my environment or celebs – basically completely unavailable men. I had plenty of fantasy relationships and the “real” relationships I had were fraught with high drama, emotional volatility and conflict – a mirror of my parents’ relationship.
I struggled with boundaries too – had no idea what were mine and how to assert myself when others crossed my boundaries, because of a lack of self-confidence. I had no idea how to stand up for myself.
I didn’t know myself well at all too. I had incredibly poor stress and regulation – I still struggle to tell when I’m feeling stressed or just running on empty. And I couldn’t really pinpoint my emotions. Like I knew I was kinda sad, empty (this was a common emotion for me), bored, but I never knew what triggered it and how to really manage those emotions.
What I did in between…
I did alot of personal growth “work”, coaching, spiritual healing etc in my 20s and it seemed as if everything was okay. But I constantly felt like I wasn’t totally “healed”, like I hadn’t gotten deep enough to really get in touch with the roots of my behaviour and wasn’t willing to. I needed to will myself to look within and ask myself the hard questions, one of them being – if this is the life I want to be leading for the rest of my existence here.
Did I want to continue having unsatisfying relationships, shy away from leadership roles, stay small and invisible, hide my personality, suppress my emotions and not give myself the life I want? The answer was a resounding no.
So I plunged myself into really putting myself first. What did I really want to do? What did I want to try? I made a list and went and did them all, even and especially the stuff that I was super reluctant of – I took up a leadership role in my day-job, started showing up and being bolder in my business, made new friends in social groups, embraced emotional vulnerability, distanced myself from people I didn’t like and starting falling in love with myself.
It has taken me years of healing to get me to where I am today and there’s still so much of healing and growth to do. To be able to help others who are currently on the same path as me is my life calling. If some part of this letter/essay resonated with you, know that you will be okay. That if you make space for yourself and turn up for the healing work – that you will naturally be on the path to leading the life you want to.
I hope this inspired something within you, and thanks for being a part of my journey and listening (reading more like, haha) to my journey. My goal is to write more about the healing path and to explicitly address the topics that I wrote about and that many of us struggle with. Stay tuned for Part 2!
Struggling to heal your own childhood wounds? Help is here
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Childhood wounds can and do become subconscious scars we end up carrying around with us in our adulthood and can affect many areas of our lives. If you feel ready, let’s unpack those emotional wounds together and start on your journey of great healing.