“Carla’s description was typical of survivors of chronic childhood abuse. Almost always, they deny or minimize the abusive memories. They have to: it’s too painful to believe that their parents would do such a thing. So they fragment the memories into hundreds of shards, leaving only acceptable traces in their conscious minds. Rationalizations like “my childhood was rough,” “he only did it to me once or twice,” and “it wasn’t so bad” are common, masking the fact that the abuse was devastating and chronic. But while the knowledge, body sensations, and feelings are shattered, they are not forgotten. They intrude in unexpected ways: through panic attacks and insomnia, through dreams and artwork, through seemingly inexplicable compulsions, and through the shadowy dread of the abusive parent. They live just outside of consciousness like noisy neighbors who bang on the pipes and occasionally show up at the door.” David L. Calof
From “Untangling PTSD and Complex PTSD“:
“The word “trauma” is often misunderstood.
Normally when we think about the victims of trauma, our minds jump to those who’ve been in affected by extremely negative events – such as terror or racial attacks, sexual and physical abuse, car accidents, natural catastrophes, or warfare. But Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and its chronic counterpart Complex PTSD (or Complex Trauma) isn’t just exclusive to victims of catastrophic events. In fact, the most common form of trauma happens to young children within the home.
There are millions of children around the world who are growing up in neglectful or violent households, witnesses to tremendous scenes, who feel that they don’t count, that they don’t matter. This has a big impact on how brains develop. If you are not ‘seen’ as a child or if you are constantly scared, your brain becomes wired to be ‘fear driven;’ to always be set for danger and be on alert.
The legacy of child trauma is serious in New Zealand. Sadly, our diagnostic manuals don’t acknowledge Complex PTSD, instead diagnoses like ADHD, oppositional defiance disorder, conduct disorder, or childhood bipolar disorder get bandied around. But interventions rarely deal with the ‘fear driven’ brain, which is essential for recovery.?
“But, for the first-time reader, this does not mean to die a physical death, but through your suffering, and through your sleep (we are all asleep until we grow through the acceptance of our failures, and of ourselves), then, and potentially, only then, will your soul’s eyes begin to see, how spiritually we must die to our selfishness before we can see that life truly begins. You must look within your own heart and accept yourself as you are, broken and worn down, and discover a beautiful thing: you. You are worthy! How about that? You are worthy.
So, healing has become an option. Certainly, your purpose may not be as mine, but yours may be as educator, scientist, teacher, writer, architect, designer, or whatever your heart has always been aspiring to show you. There remain so many opportunities for a comfortable, abundant, and lucrative life, both in spirit and in personal achievements. One important imperative is once the act of suicide has been followed through, none of this endearing and achievable experience will occur, for once the hammer hits, there is no coming back.
Life I may now see as worth living. Since I have discovered my heart’s desire and chasing this dream to be a successful and master poet, I have not ever been so happy. Happiness remains with me every day. Your purpose may be different than mine, but as I lay in that field of rock and dirt at MCB Camp Geiger, back in 1972, paralyzed for a moment, bleeding profusely from the neck, stunned and dazed, I sincerely thought I was going to die. Now, from a near death experience by fault of the humanity factor, and then desiring to die by my own hand is exceedingly oxymoronic.”
I am a successful product of child abandonment.
Raised in an abusive home, my mother left when I was in 7th grade. From that point on, I spent an excessive amount of time alone, making decisions that a teenager shouldn’t have to make, making my own dinner, and eating that dinner alone, in deafening silence, time and time again. Doing homework sitting on my bed, unsupported, I remember thinking, Why bother … no one cares if I get this done, why should I? – which eventually led to dropping out of high school. It wasn’t until I was an adult and started serious therapy, did I understand how this trauma played into every decision I made. By all accounts and statistics, I should be a non-functioning adult. Although I am a high school drop-out, I am studying for my Doctorate and will graduate next May. Don’t get me wrong, I have idiosyncrasies and the physical aliment I suffer from the most is a volatile digestive system (controlled with a healthy diet) – a norm for kids and adults with abusive backgrounds.
Abandonment Trauma is real and unpleasant, to say the least, and it comes in many forms. I never really understood how it really affected me until my first trip overseas alone. And then the next trip and then the next trip. All would find me sitting in my hotel room upon arrival, terrified. Paralyzed. Unable to think. Confused. Feeling as if I lost someone, or, I was lost. Wanting to go home. Calling my then husband, crying, saying I couldn’t stay. It was scary and confusing, because I didn’t understand why I was so afraid. I had already lived overseas with my husband, so, why were these trips so frightening? Then a therapist finally helped me understand – they asked me what I envisioned when I was in those places – and I suddenly realized my subconscious had me sitting on my bed in silence, all alone, eating dinner – and all that came with that memory. There it was. The association to the horrible, lonely reality of my childhood, was what was driving my fight or flight as an adult.