This Guest Blog post comes from Brandon (Surviving My Past with Matt Pappas), who wanted to share his story about being a survivor of and recovering from childhood trauma. As you’ll see when you read through Brandon’s article, we can always use a little reminder and validation that this recovery thing is definitely a journey, and there is no timetable.
Regardless of how old we are, how long it’s been, there is work to be done to continue moving forward. Above all else, always remember that you are not alone in your struggles.
Trauma – “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience”
I was only 5 years old at the time but I can still vividly remember it to this day. I heard a lot of arguing, yelling, and noise coming from the master bedroom of my house. I walked into the hallway and I hear a phone thrown across the room through the master bedroom door.
I ran back outside to the kitchen crying, and trying to tell my brothers that something bad is happening. My cries were ignored and they continued to play Tony Hawks Pro Skater on the PlayStation. My mom appeared in tears, opened the garage and ran out of the house, my dad followed.
The next thing I know, I am sitting in my room with the police trying to calm me down while asking me a bunch of questions.
“Where were your brothers?”
“Who else was here?”
Tears in my eyes as I responded, in absolute shock and horror at what I had just witnessed moments earlier.
My Dad was going to jail.
I remember waking up at my grandparent’s house the next morning. I was only a 5-year-old kid… I had no idea how to react. I was in kindergarten at the time and I still had to go to school. My teacher was in front of the class teaching as I sat in the room sobbing. The teacher asked me what was wrong — and I told her everything that happened.
I was sent home by the school. That night, my relatives came into my room and one-by-one they spoke to me. They told me how bad I was for telling the school and that the family was publicly humiliated. I laid in the room crying– brimming of shame and guilt. The next day at school, I did not talk to anybody.
18 Years Later
It wasn’t until being in therapy in college, I realized just how big of an impact that night had on my life. I went from an audacious, and social kid– to growing up as a withheld, quiet, and introverted kid. Hardly speaking much in middle school or high school and even in parts of college. At the time, I thought it was just– how I was.
I harbored a lot of abandonment issues from that night. I became scared to truly express myself wholeheartedly because I was terrified of being deserted or cast off. I felt like I had to change myself and be a chameleon to be liked and loved by others.
I became a “nice guy”– as coined by the world renown therapist, Dr. Robert Glover.
I am not saying being a “nice guy” is bad. All I am saying is that my beliefs and paradigms of how I view the world, oftentimes, prohibit me from getting my own needs met.
- A guy who always gives at the expense of his own needs.
- A guy who avoids confrontations and avoids making people mad.
- A guy who thinks if he has to do everything absolutely right.
- A guy who feels uncomfortable receiving gifts and kind gestures from other people.
- A guy who seeks approval from others all because he doesn’t want to be…abandoned.
Uncovering all these truths about myself was a long and arduous process. Discovering these things made me feel extremely uncomfortable. That incident lodged an ineffective road map on how to navigate through life into my head.
I would love to write about how I dedicated my days to overcome this problem and how I finally overcame it!……but I cannot.
I am still working on overcoming it every single day. It feels so deeply embedded within my identity but I am chipping away at it–day by day. I am still trying to heal my past traumas.
I know I am not alone. I know there are thousands of people out there dealing with similar issues and are trying to overcome their past traumas. Some people don’t even realize how much life in their adolescence impacts their life now. My advice– is to get help.
Don’t go through this journey alone.
Whether it be conversing with a safe person who you can unconditionally express yourself to or seeking help from a professional therapist, get some help. I have improved leaps and bounds with some support. Most people have some traumas they have dealt with as a kid, like my domestic violence incident, that has stayed with them and impacted their adult life.
Uncovering and learning to accept all the trauma you have experienced in your life can help you fully express yourself better.