Updated: Aug 16, 2020
Please welcome Guest Blogger, Toni Simmons who is writing about overcoming childhood trauma.
When my mother woke me up early in the morning and announced that we were going on a trip, I knew it would be a joy ride. I knew we would get to stay at a hotel with a pool and we were headed to fun! I remember going to the beach with my mother, dressing up the cutest for church, corner store runs and hair appointments with my neighbor. The few fun times we had, I held onto forever to cover up the pain and shame of a long lasting hurt that I would soon learn that the only cure was healing.
The opposing side to my joy was the reality that I did not want to face. My mother who was a single mom, also suffered from a mental illness. She strived to be the best mother she could be but sometimes her condition was uncontrollable. Sometimes visits with the neighbors led to altercations, and her zoned out phases led to no food being in the fridge for weeks. It left her unable to be a mother. I remember one night when I was scared for my life. The three men who had been playing basketball earlier in the day and wanted to play ball with me -a six year old, came to the house . They banged on the door and yelled that they wanted to see me. They banged so hard that the blinds shook and they tried to break down the door. My mother stood on the steps with a blank stare and was crying. The only thing I could do was call the police . By the time they arrived the men had gone and the police thought I was lying until they noticed that my mother was shaken up and zoned out. Days like this became a pattern as I came to the rescue to save my mother out of situations that she could not because of her mental illness.
When I was about 7 years old, I went to live with relatives. I did not understand why I was taken away from my mother . I still struggle to understand our relationship today. Because we were separated my behavior resulted in anger, hurt and pain. I began to act out in school and at home as a teenager which resulted in some experiences that added to the pain I already felt. Growing up, I experienced a lot of emotional and verbal abuse. It was said that I would be just like my mother. I was told things like I would be crazy, strung out like her. I would never be anything and fall in love with a man that would make me crazy just like my mother. According to The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center, childhood trauma deteriorates the child’s stability and sense of self, undermining self worth and carries into adulthood. Being shunned by my family as the "bad child" who was not blood. Constant verbal abuse left me with the feelings of unworthiness, rejection, abandonment, and self-sabotage as an adult. Things were said and done to me because of my behavior I endured trauma most of my childhood. The sad thing is it left me hurt for years and I am still processing some of those same feelings.
What is Childhood Trauma?
Childhood trauma is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as “the experience of an event by a child that is emotionally painful or distressful which often results in lasting mental and physical effects”. These experiences can be overwhelming and negative that can leave a long lasting impact on an individual for years that may carry into adulthood.
Adverse Traumatic Childhood Experiences:
Sudden loss of a parent or caretaker
Unstable home environment
The experiences we have as children carries into adulthood. Those same experiences have a direct relationship as to how we were raised and those same traumas we still operate through because it's all we know and it is comfortable. The trauma can be expressed through our mental health, our emotions, how we treat others, how we speak to ourselves and what we think of ourselves.
Childhood Trauma In Adulthood Can look like:
Feeling of Unworthiness
Inability to control emotions
Issues with Sleeping
Lack of energy
Redemption & Resilience
In 2013, I walked across my high school graduation stage with the deepest sorrow and sadness feeling so unworthy. As I walked across that stage, God said to me in the clearest voice, “There is so much more to you”. I tell everyone that on that day, “God gave me a second chance”. It was like I felt a sense of peace in my heart and every day since then I have done my best to live my best life. Today, I am a woman of my story and try to share it with the youth and women as much as I can to inspire them to build resilience in the face of adversity through my platform, "The Diary of a Resilient Queen".
I was reminded that resilience is a gift that God gives us as we process through life and identify that the story is actually a testimony to be used for good. It is a testimony that will inspire others to be their best and live out their lives fully. You begin to learn that you are not your trauma and your life is worthy of you living it out each day.
Channeling in Resilience in Processing Childhood Trauma
What is Resilience?
Resilience is the ability to overcome adversity. Resilience is how you choose to react in the face of those roadblocks that come along the way. The art of building resilience can leave a positive and long lasting impact on your healing process and overcoming childhood trauma.
1. Live in Your Truth
Childhood Trauma impacts in adulthood can lead to an adult having a mixture of mental and emotional health issues. The experiences can leave one to live out their life through negative and pessimistic behaviors. The reality is that childhood trauma leaves a wound but operating in our truth of the present moment is how we will overcome childhood trauma. The past is the past as long as you leave it in the past. You can no longer keep telling yourself that the same experiences are happening and living as if they are as well. Accepting your trauma and shaping your mindset into a moving forward mentality is so beneficial. Your trauma does not define who you are as a person. But, it is your story and your testimony and you have to find ways to embrace it. Embracing it may look like spending time with your inner child and processing those heavy traumatic experiences, finding ways to heal from the trauma, improving your mindset, making a list of what is true vs. what is not about your life and sharing your testimony with others.
2. Self-Compassion Heals
Listen, when it came to overcoming my series of traumatic events, the root of my pain and hurt was that I did not feel as if I was loved. I felt a sense of being an estranged child and family member. That feeling led me to not loving myself and always living in a place of negative emotions. I did not care to put love into myself because I did not think that it was important. But, after years of depression I went to therapy and discovered that loving myself was one of the most important things I could do to heal from childhood trauma. Learning to love yourself is the best gift you can give to yourself. Spending each day with yourself, you will begin to learn who you truly are and what yo makes you. Cultivating a lifestyle of loving oneself can assist with the times you have the “feels” of recalling trauma or just a long exhausting day.
Self Compassion may look like:
Being kind to yourself
Going to therapy
Daily and routine self-care
Eliminating negative self-talk
Allowing yourself to feel
3. Don’t be Afraid to Rewrite your Story
Now, the truth is the heaviness was plenty to deal with and still has a place in your heart. But beginning to rewrite the story is the power that you possess for your healing. You can recall the trauma as much as you need to but you can also begin deciding what you want your life to look like. You can take a risk to feel every moment and be true to yourself despite what happened or what was said to bring death and not life. You can now live. You can now start putting the pen to the paper and map out your dream life, believe it and receive it when it unfolds. Let go of the past and take some time in the present and find things for which you are grateful. Next, strategize some ways that you can become the woman that you desire to be, even if it takes working with a therapist, lifecoach or trauma specialist to get you through. Finally, start living freely in what you want to be. Ask yourself this question: If I had to choose, my dream life what would look like? Then start piece by piece going for the life you envision and desire. You deserve it!
“'Cause the words that come from your mouth
You're the first to hear
Speak words of beauty and you will be there
No matter what anybody says
What matters most is what you think of yourself”
- Get it Together, India.Aire
These words by my beautiful sister never felt so at home while healing from childhood trauma. The easiest thing is to result in blame, shame and guilt. The recalling of the trauma, the allowance of your behaviors that impact your adulthood and the misconception you have that leads you to believe you were not promised a life of abundance has to go. The feelings of fear, doubt, worry, rejection, abandonment, neglect, unworthiness, and self-hate has to go so you can grow and become who you are supposed to be. Affirmations can help with that. There is beauty in reciting uplifting affirmations to yourself when you are battling trauma from your childhood. Affirmations help you to feel empowered. Affirmations help you to boost confidence and increase your self-esteem. Begin with some of these healing affirmations below:
I am strong.
I am enough.
I am worthy.
I am living in my truth.
I am resilient and I can overcome anything.
I am living my best life.
I let go of the old and embrace the beauty of the new.
I give myself unconditional love today.
You are not defined by what you could not control. Accept that you had no control in that situation. It happened. You survived it. You are capable of obtaining and maintaining the life you desire. Embracing your story and who you are is what will get you through. Utilizing resilience strategies can help you process through childhood trauma that has impacted adulthood. Continuing to live a life of resilience can transform not only your mind but your life. Whenever you are feeling emotional about your childhood trauma, remember that any day or any time you can begin working on living in your truth with self-compassion, rewriting your story or using affirmations. You already have all you need to heal and overcome childhood trauma. You are a winner!
Peace & Blessings,
Toni D. Simmons
More about Ms. Toni Simmons:
Toni Simmons is the Life Coach & Founder, behind The Diary of a Resilient Queen platform where she teaches youth and women how to level up in their resilience in the face of adversity and strategies to turn their obstacles into opportunities. Through content, coaching and resources youth and women are taught to live a life of resiliency that helps them to reach their optimal wellness. Toni is also a mental health advocate, a soon-to-be-wife and a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Masters Program student.
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I am not a licensed therapist.
This post does not serve as a form of therapy or diagnosis.
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