We can often see the impact from physical trauma long after when the injury took place depending on the severity of the trauma. We can see scars, physical handicaps, medical devices (crutches, prosthetics, wheelchair, etc.), and other effects from the trauma. For some, the effects are still evident years after the injury, or for their entire lifetime.
But what about the effects from emotional, physical, mental and sexual abuse? The psychological impact is often lifelong, but not as evident to the outsider. There are typically no physical signs of the unhealthy beliefs, fears and psychological damage that has taken place. Yes, the damage can be evident in how a person takes care of themselves, self-harm, etc., but this is not always an indicator of psychological abuse.
Although we can make significant changes by dealing with and healing our past, ultimately forming new healthier beliefs and choices, as I did (see my book, Discovering Michael: An Inspirational Guide and Story to Personal Growth & Self-Discovery, 2014). However, I will be the first to admit, that vestiges of growing up in a highly dysfunctional family, and the deep psychological trauma experienced, still exist today and may probably exist until the day of my physical death. We can learn to become happier (re-defining what this means to us), productive (holding down jobs and sustaining relationships), healthier (making more positive choices), and enjoy more of life (volunteering, nature, travel, etc.).
For me the effects from this childhood trauma that remain are deep-rooted fears and continually dealing with a sense of unworthiness. I know at an intellectual level that these issues are unfounded and a result of my past, yet even with this awareness, it requires daily effort to deal with the powerful emotional aspect of these issues. I wake up daily concerned that something bad will happen to my loved ones or other aspect of my life. When things do go wrong I take this as a confirmation that I am not worthy, which is why these things happen to me. In this way I still feel like the abused child within.
The good news is that the tools for coping and dealing with these issues are there. I attribute the success that I have had in the past 20 years to the dedication I have on applying these tools to my own life. Yes, I continue to improve, but along with this is the realization that I will always need these tools. I have tried other healing practices with the hope that this one will magically take away my fears, only to find temporary relief. Like someone who has lost a limb, I can find medical devices to help me overcome the limitations I have, but I will continue to have this handicap.
I will always continue to strive for greater self-development and personal growth, but my expectations are more real now. I have had to struggle a lot in my life, and will continue as I deal with lasting psychological trauma, but I continue to live each day, even when I lose myself temporarily to my fears or issues. I find strength and courage in continuing on. It is this fact that I find most meaningful about my life, so that I can still experience the magnificence in life, and continue to be an inspiration for others. It takes hard work, but sitting here writing this and the positive feelings that I draw from this in the hope that it might help one other, is all worth it. Besides I am reminded of this feeling everyday when I look into my kid’s eyes, including my own when I was only a child…