“Why am I so bad at this?!” Throwing my hands up in defeat, feeling the familiar tingle in my nose that told me a normal reaction would be to cry now, but after years of suppressing…the tears didn’t come. Instead I just stood there, staring at my reflection, wondering what was wrong with me. Why was it so hard to connect with people? Why was it so hard to just say a simple hello or even make eye contact?
When Gabe and I first moved to NYC, we were only twenty-one. Gabe had just finished with all of his schooling and had only this internship standing between him and graduating with his bachelor’s degree. I had just graduated with my associate’s degree and planned to continue schooling in NYC. We were full of optimism and excitement as we told all of our friends and family goodbye and headed to the east coast for Gabe’s next chapter; a chapter we were doing together but also separately.
However, upon arriving, we quickly realized that our expectations of how the year would play out were vastly mistaken and not only was Gabe expected to do a year of on-the-field training in church planting, but…so was I?
I was floored. I was overwhelmed. I was filled with great throbbing waves of anxiety, feeling like I couldn’t complete a year of challenges I had never wanted to be a part of in the first place, but also feeling like I had to. The year was entirely about connecting with strangers and our chosen teams. We had to complete tasks such as sharing our testimony with our team and a stranger, starting a Bible study, going out and making conversation with strangers while sharing Bible stories, etc.
When I look back at that year, I now understand what I didn’t understand back then. I see who I was and what I was feeling and I can now not only understand that I was put in an unfair situation, but I can also accept it and believe it in a way I couldn’t back then. Had I understood the impacts of childhood trauma on my life back then, I could have understood why I was reacting the way that I was.
Now, I DO think my past definitely contributed to my feelings in this situation, but I also believe that getting thrust unexpectedly into a position that one is not qualified for would deeply impact even a previously healthy person. So, I go on to explain my personal experience and how I dealt with it, while later connecting some of the dots that I couldn’t then piece together.
On Annie Wright’s Blog (themighty.com) she talks about “seven impacts of surviving childhood trauma”. Out of the seven struggles listed in her blog, I struggle with all of them…more so in my earlier adult years than now, but some of them have definitely continued to trouble me in every day life. In her list she includes:
- Loss of Safety and Trust
- Flashbacks and Re-enactments
- Depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other disorders
- Loss of Self Worth
- Heightened stress response
- Loss of a sense of self
- Use of distorted coping mechanisms
I am going to write seven blogs after this one on each of these symptoms and how I have learned to manage them, even before realizing why I was struggling with them. I am grateful for how self aware I tend to be, therefore giving me an upper hand compared to someone who maybe hasn’t realized that they struggle with any of these seven symptoms of childhood trauma. That’s not to boast, because truly there’s nothing gratifying or glorious about trauma at any stage in a person’s life. I am simply thankful that I didn’t have to wait until I understood that my struggles were from a traumatic childhood to start changing and growing in these areas. That’s also not to say that it’s too late for you to begin your journey of healing. I am a firm believer that it is never too late; every second is your second chance and it only takes one small step to begin the process.
If you are interested in going through this unraveling journey with me, subscribe to my blog so that you don’t miss a single post on my trauma series. And if you have thoughts or feelings, feel free to further connect with me via my instagram page (_sarahculture_), or through my personal email email@example.com
To be continued…
All the feels,