Childhood trauma comes in many forms. No matter what form it may take, the after-effects can create strange actions as an adult.
If you’ve experienced childhood trauma, then one thing’s for sure, you cannot forget. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as well. Childhood trauma, whether it’s bullying or emotional abuse, leaves its mark well into adulthood and molds how we act in society.
The subtle mark of childhood trauma
Not every side effect of childhood trauma is noticeable at first. Some imprints are subtle leaving tiny signs of their influence. Although these effects may seem small, they can still cause a large amount of damage. It’s important to learn these subtle signs to be able to provide help when needed. If you’re suffering from these effects as an adult yourself, then recognizing them will be the first step.
1. Passive characteristics
If you were neglected as a child, then you will show passivity as an adult. Being neglected once caused you to bury your feelings, in hopes that you wouldn’t be neglected again. Maybe you thought it was the fault of your own emotions as to why you were left alone.
As an adult, you became passive and even refused to take action when needed. What was once a great survival tactic, is not a negative aspect holding you back from your potential.
2. Passive-aggressive behavior
There are two reasons why you may have become passive-aggressive as an adult. If you witnessed a lot of aggression in childhood, then you might grow up thinking that anger is bad and should never be expressed.
On the other hand, if you were taught to hold in your anger, then you might still be doing this as an adult. This is one common subtle way that childhood trauma affects you.
3. Depression and anxiety
If you were bullied as a child, then you are at risk of developing depression or anxiety disorder. These effects and illnesses can be subtle but generally grow in intensity if not checked. It seems that the harsh treatment of being bullied causes the victim to repeatedly self-associate the words that are said about them, deeming them to be true. As an adult, healing from this experience can be incredibly difficult.
4. Physical ailments
As always, any sort of mental trauma as a child can cause physical health problems. Included in these are heart problems, diabetes, and digestive issues. It’s astounding how any sort of childhood trauma can leave that type of lasting mark, but it’s true.
Trauma such as emotional abuse, neglect, and bullying can create such a stressful environment in childhood that it can damage cortisol levels, change the structure of the brain, and even cause addictions. All these can cause drastic changes in the physical health, and they can also start off subtle.
Childhood trauma can also cause subtle changes in adulthood such as substance abuse. The extreme stress placed on a child can be almost unbearable. The response to the stress, as a child, is to create defense mechanisms. As these things are created, more stress develops in order to maintain defenses to abuse, bullying, and other such traumatic experiences.
Because of this stress as a child, adults turn to alcohol and drugs to numb the effects. Most substance abuse, as you know, starts off mildly and reaches a crescendo. If left untreated, substance abuse can totally destroy a person’s life and people that they know as well.
6. Creating a false person
One defensive move against childhood trauma is to create a false self. If a child is not experiencing the love that they think they should receive, they create a personality that they think their parents will love. Developing this false self changes the child in adverse ways. The false self also follows them into adulthood and influences adult relationships.
7. Victim mentality
Yes, it’s the victim mentality. I know you’ve heard me say it a hundred times, but it is a real thing. If you were a genuine victim as a child, then as an adult, you may suffer from being stuck in a victim state of mind. You will talk negative about yourself and also fail to move past what happened to you in the past.
Moving past your trauma or abuse is an integral way to avoid having a victim mentality. Unfortunately, so many of victims cannot seem to pull themselves out of this pit. It’s a subtle imprint of an obvious childhood trauma.
Healing the adult child
If you’re an adult suffering from the subtle effects of childhood trauma, it’s not too late to heal these toxic feelings and actions. In fact, it’s important to learn how to get better for your loved ones and friends. Oftentimes, they are affected by our negative actions as well.
I urge you to become educated about your personal childhood experience and how it has left its mark on your life. If you notice toxic behavior, find the root of that behavior and that’s where you begin. I wish you the best of luck in your healing journey.