Recent studies highlight the effects of childhood trauma, abuse, neglect and sexual abuse on people long after they experienced the events. Long into adulthood, childhood victims share some common traits:
- Prone to develop depression
- Cognitive distortion (seeing the world as a dangerous place)
- Tendency to entertain suicide
- Anxiety disorders
- Physical illness
- Difficulty in relationships
- Control issues with food
This is not an exhaustive list. But it gives you an idea of the impact of past trauma on your present self. I share this not to simply help you identify the root of your present issues, but to help you re-see things, this time with a lens of grace and understanding. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you are normal. Give yourself some grace, the kind of grace you would gladly grant to a friend in pain.
If someone had pulled me aside in my early twenties and told me that I would suffer from many of these issues going on into adulthood, and that the reason I would stemmed from my childhood, I would be both angry and despairing. It would have seemed entirely unfair that I was doomed to a life of pain because of something I had no control over.
But I’ve come to realize that there are two factors that trump this list: God and me (emphasis on God).
Most people who meet me have no earthly idea about my upbringing. They guess I’ve had a stable, two-parent home with a relatively easy middle class life. When I hear that, I smile. Because God has truly brought me on a healing journey, and He gets so much glory for rescuing me. However, I also had to want to get better. I had this insatiable longing to be whole. And so I sought counsel, asked for prayer, read all sorts of books, and made a hundred million mistakes along the way. My desire to get well combined with God’s supernatural ability to change me made all the difference.
All that to say, you are NOT doomed to repeat the sins that were perpetrated against you. You are not helpless to overcome the past. Your future is not cemented. You are not powerless. I only say that because of the graciousness of God. You may feel doomed, helpless, cemented and powerless, but the truth is, when you surrender to Jesus, He empowers you to move past the past.
None of this journey is simple. Some of it may involve getting professional help or medications for mental health diagnoses. It may mean you join a support group. It sometimes means you’ll go through bouts of seemingly unending sadness about your ability to change. I want you to know this: YOU ARE NORMAL.
I also want to say: I’m sorry you experienced trauma as a child. It’s unfair that it affects you today, that you’re circling back around to the pain, that you trigger easily, that you have such a hard time trusting people. I wish I could give you a hug. I would weep alongside you.
But please don’t give into despair. The God of the universe is the God of the reversal. And around Christmas time, we see this in beautiful clarity as He defied the laws of nature to become a helpless baby, in the hands of sinful men and women. He must’ve known the weight of sin of others against Himself in a way we cannot fathom. And although He had no stately form of majesty, His destiny was not marked by the obscurity He came from. He would save the world, our unlikely savior.
You are not doomed, friend. Jesus loves you. He will empower you to live the kind of life that makes the demons tremble and the other broken ones rejoice. Don’t give up.
A genuine blessing to read such truth and anointed writing. Your care, concern and love for CHRIST and people surely is in your work and I praise Him for so blessing you to be such a blessing to others…
Amen, Brandon. I’m so glad you’ve met Jesus! Yes, so true. We are not what happened to us.
blessed to know Him and to make divine connections with family in CHRIST… Amen
Thank you for your message of hope. Can you recommend who I would speak to about a 31 yr old marriage that is on the rocks, and in which there has been no physical intimacy for years because of a past that has rendered sex a complete offense to the wife. How does one hope for change after this many years of dysfunction and failure?
So few women ever speak on this… so many women need us to. What is it that keeps us from facing this subject and talking about it? So many women suffer in this area………. but who will address it?
Elizabeth, of course it must be fear.
So very true. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for these words of wisdom today. Although I was spared the terrible trauma of this kind as a child, these words can help those of us who have gone through other kinds of injustice or trials. I have to choose to change my thinking when I feel overwhelmed with the bitter and angry thoughts about those who have caused me hurt and pain. I keep looking to Jesus who will ‘right all wrongs’, and I also stay in the Word and remember His Truth!
I choose to have peace and joy and comfort, that can only come from Him!
Thanks once again Mary for speaking truth and life into all of us!
Blessings to you and Merry Christmas!
I love your heart and your positive perspective, Susan.
“Control issues with food” <—– Ouch! 😉
I know I have come a long way from where I was. I had to be brought to the end of myself to finally start reaching out for help. And early in my journey of healing I was told, "You didn't get this way overnight. You won't get better overnight." It has not been an easy road, but it's been a freeing road. I was just telling one of my best friends that I've always had a hard time with feeling like I deserve good things because deserve has so much negative baggage from our fundy churches. But I realized I don't have any baggage with the word worthy. I am worthy of the love of Jesus because He said so. Today, I believe that more than I don't. 🙂
It’s a long pathway toward healing, and I commend you for keeping at it. It is hard to believe for good things, but we do serve that VERY good Father who loves his children.