As a social worker, and someone that grew up in adverse circumstances; I find it so difficult when people say “coming from a bad background is no excuse for…”
The problem is, without trying to make excuses, sometimes childhood trauma can really set us back. Science backs this up. Reserach tells us children that ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) increase one’s risk of adult health difficulties, addictions, early mortality and mental health issues.
When a baby is born into the world, they have a right to be safe, loved, nurtured and cared for. When these things are not upheld, this child becomes vulnerable.
When I left home at 17 years of age, I was in a state of devastation. Although I managed to get into university and from the outside looked like I had it together, the collateral damage from my childhood was effecting me on many levels.
I was mentally and emotionally exhausted from caring for my alcoholic parent’s. I couldn’t sleep or eat due to anxiety. My self worth was very low due to a belief that if I was worth it, my parents would stop drinking. I was extremely jealous and competitive, due to always having to compete for my parents love with alcohol. I took on others emotions as being my responsibility, because I had always taken responsibility for keeping my Mum happy so she wouldn’t get violent. Because I grew up so dysfunctionally, I had no idea what was “normal”, so I was constantly guessing and second guessing every social interaction I had. I felt as though I could never trust anyone, because as a child, there was no one I could trust to keep me safe and put me first. I was never present, as living in the present for the past 17 years had been too painful. I was convinced everyone was judging me very harshly, as my parents when they were drunk would sit criticizing everyone they new, but also everyone on TV, calling people “fat” “useless” “ugly”.
After the 17 years of devastation, I had acquired all of these unhealthy thought patterns and beliefs.
I had to rebuild. I had to learnt to view life differently. Eight years later and I still have some unhealthy beliefs. Things have improved greatly, but unfortunately there is a significant amount of baggage that remains with me. I continue to sort through this baggage and despite those who think “coming from a bad background is no excuse”, unfortunately I can say, it really does hold people back from their full potential and I feel like it is important to acknowledge this.
Even though I haven’t managed to evaporate every part of heavy baggage from my shoulders, I’m still incredibly proud of myself because I always tried my best. Every time I have a hard day where confronting my childhood trauma is difficult, I think of my future children and I think about the mother they deserve, the one that I never had, the one that nurtures and loves her children and keeps them safe. I move forward on this journey no matter how hard, because I know I’m breaking the cycle and I’m proud to say, it starts with me. It’s a pleasure to be rebuilding, after the devastation.