Trauma causes wounds. Emotional wounds are invisible, but the scars are visible in the life of an Adult Child. Unfortunately, it’s often quite common for a person’s emotional health to become damaged during childhood. I have emotional wounds from childhood that run deep as I went decades unaware and untreated. I am becoming conscious of them and work to process my triggers rather than covering them up.
Betrayal, humiliation, mistrust, abandonment, and injustice are just a few of the emotional wounds that Lisa Bourbeau details in her book, The 5 Wounds That Keep You from Being Yourself. Read on for the gory details:
Fear of Abandonment
An abandonment wound can be formed in a variety of unsuspecting and more obvious ways:
- Birth trauma (separation at birth, c-section birth, incubators)
- Being dropped off at summer camp
- Being dropped off at Grandma’s house for a night when you’re little
- Boarding school
- Divorced parents
- An absent parent
- A sick parent
- Death of a parent
- A close family member dying
- alcoholic parent
- Working Parents – Latchkey Kids
An abandonment wound creates a lack of security that can stunt a child’s ability to build a healthy sense of self. As a result, insecurity in one’s own worth and agency arises. Consequently, when the child becomes an adult, they will do anything to prevent experiencing abandonment again.
As an adult, the symptoms of these wounds show up as:
- Chronic Insecurity
- Heightened Emotional Response to Triggers
- Self Sabotaging Relationships
- Attaching Too Soon (fantasy)
- Mood Swings
Fear of Rejection
There is a saying that goes, “If we define a situation as real, it becomes real in its consequences.” If your children perceive you are rejecting them they will believe it and suffer.Thomas Theorum
Ways in which I was rejected from my parents:
- My ideas and attitudes were dismissed.
- Not listened to. Cut off when I was speaking. Told, “I do not want to hear it.”
- I was put down and shut down.
- My feelings were not validated. I was too sensitive or I deserved it. I also got the definitive line, “Your mother had it hard when she was a child.”
- I was relentlessly teased by my father.
- I was told what to do, rather than requested.
These wound prevents me from accepting your feelings, thoughts, and experiences. I didn’t develop healthy self love or self esteem. The symptoms of fear of rejections show up in adulthood as:
- Living as a false self.
- Victimhood thinking.
- Passive aggressiveness.
Fear of Humiliation
Humiliation often occurs when you receive disapproval and harsh criticism from others.
These problems arise in children when they are told they’re stupid, bad or overweight, or by discussing their problems in front of others (something that is, sadly, quite common.)
This inevitably destroys the child’s self-esteem and makes it difficult for them to cultivate a healthy sense of self-worth. In adulthood I became a codependent woman. My sense of self and worthiness is dependent on another’s perspective of me.
Having suffered these types of experiences, I’m working on my own independence and freedom, as well as understanding my own needs, fears, and priorities.
Fear of Trusting Others
This is one of the most common emotional wounds. It occurs when people close to the child break their promises, leading to feelings of betrayal and having been cheated. This leads four main attachment styles in adulthood:
- Secure – autonomous;
- Avoidant – dismissing;
- Anxious – preoccupied; and
- Disorganized – unresolved
Adults with these attachment styles differ in a number of significant ways:
- how they perceive and deal with closeness and emotional intimacy.
- ability to communicate their emotions and needs, and listen to and understand the emotions and needs of their partners.
- modes of responding to conflict.
- expectations about their partner and the relationship (internal working models)
Environments in which the child’s main caregivers are cold and authoritarian produce feelings of injustice. These demanding personalities generate feelings of powerlessness and futility, both in childhood and adulthood. injustice trauma is a specific type of experience that occurs when other people make decisions and do actions that unfairly impact others.
This shows up in childhood as:
- Sexual abuse.
- Being targeted because of gender.
- Being excluded because of gender.
- Having no say in major life changes.
- Being blocked from achieving goals.
In adulthood, the injustice wound shows up in my rigidness. It is my black and white, either/or thinking. It clouds my thinking and makes it difficult to make firm decisions.
This wound also shows as perfectionism and causes nit-picking of others. My MUSTS and SHOULDS of myself and others.
To address my defect in this area, it important to recognize my go to suspiciousness and mental rigidity. This will allow for more flexibility and trust towards others. Awareness is key.
In short, my childhood was CRAP: