Childhood Trauma and New Beginnings
How’s your New Year going so far?
Do you do the whole ‘New Year, New Me’ stuff or are you zombie-shuffling out of bed every morning?
Are you excited about a potential new beginning or are you filled with dread at the thought of getting through another year?
Maybe you’re a combination of all those things. Maybe you’re none of those things. Whatever you feel about new beginnings, there’s no way of getting away from the beginning of a new year.
New beginnings can be tough for people who have experienced childhood trauma. Children who grow up in traumatising environments often have very little stability at home. If your caregiver was prone to fits of unpredictable rage, you may have never known what you were going to come home to. You may have dreaded hometime at school – because you didn’t know what home you were going back to. Was it going to be a safe and happy place today? Or were you going back to chaos and fear? It could be anything.
If this was your experience growing up, structure and stability may be really important to you in adulthood. You might need to feel in control of everything because you understand what it’s like to be truly powerless. You don’t want to feel like that scared child again. Structure protects you from that feeling of fear. And so life starts to feel great – until change happens.
Change takes you out of our comfort zone and puts you into a brand new situation. You are in unfamiliar territory, tackling new issues and obstacles. Change tests us in many ways. We find out how resilient, capable and brave we really are. We discover what we aren’t very good at, and how we cope with heightened emotion. Change also challenges your need for control. For this reason, change can be incredibly difficult for adults who have experienced childhood trauma. It triggers all those feelings of powerlessness, terror and panic.
A new beginning is a form of change. It makes you stop and evaluate where you feel you are at in life. New beginnings also make you think about the future and what lies ahead. Although we can predict certain aspects of the future, we cannot 100% control it…which is scary stuff for survivors of trauma.
Learning to tolerate uncertainty and change is no easy feat but it will help you feel more grounded and less anxious. Start by thinking by your circle of influence – what can you control? What do you get to decide? (Hint from personal experience: you cannot control other people’s thoughts, behaviours or actions. Don’t allow other people to control you either. The quicker you live by this, the happier you become 😊 )
Here's to a new beginning, a new perspective and a New Year.
Thank you for being here.