Updated: Feb 26, 2020
One of the most important aspects to healing from a dysfunctional childhood is the willingness to acknowledge that your childhood was, well...shitty. As I key this, using a more politically correct term feels inauthentic.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we can't hide from it. No amount of denial, repression or compartmentalization can change what happened because chronic traumas impact developing brains and nervous systems. What happened informs the way we think, feel, act and react. Every aspect of who we are is imprinted far beyond what we imagine!
Fear is at the Root of our Ills
To see how childhood trauma impacts every aspect of being is to understand how it literally wires the developing brain for fear and anxiety, takes the executive thinking part of the brain offline and shorts out the connection between the thinking and feeling parts of the brain. These adaptations were the only way a child who couldn't run, hide, push back or defend themselves often learned to 'go away' or dissociate. That same coping mechanism often shows up in adulthood as memory deficits, addiction or other forms of distraction. What appears as a character flaw or broken-ness is the exact opposite. It is the body's miraculous coping mechanism stuck in the "on" position.
When living in a chaotic or dysfunctional environment the survival brain stays on high alert and is constantly scanning the environment for what can go wrong. The chronic stress is bathing the child's developing brain and body in stress hormones and creating negative changes in the brain, nervous system, body, glandular and immune systems. The landmark ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study correlated a causal relationship between child abuse and a whole host of illnesses from fibromyalgia, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, arthritis to cancer and mor