My childhood continues to hold me hostage though I'm an adult. I’ve spent years unknowingly recreating my toxic family dynamic in relationship after relationship, hoping to find someone who could save me from the pain I’d always felt inside—self-hate, depression, and anxiety that led to terrible decision making. Of course, back then I didn’t have insight that all those negative symptoms and behaviors were my young brain's survival mechanisms- hardwired strategies that stemmed from a fundamental denial that my family relationships were harmful. And so I grew into adulthood with this flawed approach to life and relationships all the while keeping the secrets of my family dysfunction. But my defensive structures fell apart as I tried to form my own stable relationships with no blueprint. It got really bad, culminating in hurting the person I loved the most to see that I had a problem. That I needed to break away from my past and save myself.
These days I’m not reenacting my past. I’m no longer an object for men to use. But trauma still appears in my life everyday because I think about it all the time. I think about how childhood trauma comes in many forms but the biologic effects on a developing child can be similarly devastating. I think about how trauma can change our DNA and be passed onto future generations. I think about all the ways I can continue to protect my own children from suffering my fate. I think about how I can best help the abused youth I treat in my child and adolescent psychiatry practice because I don’t want them to grow up as prisoners of their traumatic childhoods. I don’t want them to be vulnerable to patterns of unstable relationships or re-victimization. I don’t want them to keep speaking their pain through their low self-worth, negative thoughts and feelings, self-harm, and poor decisions. I want them to find the power of their voices. I want them to discover their true identities. I want them to move towards recovery faster than I did.
I also write about trauma a lot. I write rap and poems about trauma. I write young adult novels that tell different tales but all involve youth who have survived adverse childhood experiences and somehow find healing.
So you see I'm always thinking about trauma- only now I'm thinking about how I can help assuage the profound detrimental impact that trauma confers on youth.
I can’t not think or write about trauma. It’s shaped everything about me and even though I’ve mostly healed, I can still feel it in my bones.