However, for those of us who experienced trauma at an early age, childhood can seem like a part of ourselves we would prefer to keep in the back of our closet.
Unfortunately, it’s true that our experiences in childhood affect how we act and cultivate relationships as an adult.
Though we all long for healthy connections with others and with ourselves, it can be more challenging for someone who is burdened by unresolved traumas.
The effects of these traumas on our relationships can be devastating in different ways.
Take a moment and ask yourself if you fall into any or all of the following relationship patterns.
1) You are attracted to destruction
You might not consciously seek out toxic relationships, but childhood traumas can skew your perceptions of what constitutes normal and healthy behavior.
Are you supported in your relationships emotionally and able to express your feelings without fear of rejection? These are questions to begin asking yourself before and during your relationships.
2) You avoid relationships with others altogether
Maybe you think the easiest solution is to avoid relationships altogether, isolating yourself and maintaining only the most basic friendships.
If you’re more likely to engage in casual affairs or shallow friendships, you might be refusing yourself the opportunity to form connections with others, ultimately preventing you from finding happiness and hope.
3) You avoid yourself
True, you may be able to form healthy connections with others, but are you in a relationship with yourself?
Often, trauma leaves us feeling ashamed and unworthy of love. So, out of feeling “less-than,” we throw ourselves into caring for others. We are attentive, thoughtful and sacrificial in our relationships.
It’s not wrong to be concerned with the happiness of others, but it is unfair to yourself to use your relationships as an excuse for not loving yourself. If you find it difficult to be alone with yourself, you might be in need of some self-love.
4) You have difficulty integrating your emotions
Do you know what you’re feeling, and why you are feeling that way? Are your feelings consistent with the situation, and can you express your feelings to your partner or friend?
It is crucial for you to be capable of understanding your emotions, where they come from, and how to adequately express those feelings. Often, trauma can hinder your ability to do these emotional integrations and can damage your relationships.
5) You have trouble identifying how you form attachments
Psychologists have evaluated and determined a list of different types of attachments that are important to use in identifying unhealthy patterns.
Some attachment variations that affect trauma victims most often include:
- Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment: A person expressing extreme independence in response to fear of rejection. This attachment might link to a history in which the caregiver rejected the emotional or physical needs of the child.
- Fearful-Avoidant Attachment: A person that has difficulty expressing their emotions and trusting others. Often, this attachment results from abuse or neglect experienced in childhood.
- Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment: A person acts “clingy” or “needy” in their relationships. This person, as a child, might not have received consistent treatment from their caregiver. For example, if a parent was sometimes loving and other times abusive/rejecting.
Ultimately, understanding how you form attachments will help to identify what type of relationships you’re likely to engage in. Once you identify what category of attachment you fit into, you can seek out proper healing strategies.
If any of these relationship traits feel familiar to you, it is essential to seek support and resources from a professional. In therapy, childhood traumas can heal, and current relationships can gain the tools needed to succeed.
The important thing to remember is that your childhood experiences are not your fault, but how you choose to deal with that trauma is your choice. With knowledge and treatment, adult relationships can sustain and blossom despite childhood traumas.