When Childhood Trauma Damages Your Self-Esteem
The memories still hurt, but here's what you can do.
We all have memories that we wish we could forget. Memories of experiences in life that still hurt and are so painful it affects our lives to this very day.
I have a lot of life experiences that I went through growing up that have damaged my self-esteem.
And I’m sure you do too, especially if you’re reading this.
Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of friends, and for the longest time my cousin Courtney was my best friend and only friend.
I wasn’t popular or even well-liked throughout school, and It wasn’t like I was mean, because I wasn’t.
I developed a reputation as one of the weird shy girls in Resource class. I was also bullied a ton in Elementary school.
At the end of sixth grade, my family had a tradition where the sibling who was done with Elementary school got to throw a big party and have all their friends come.
It was our sixth-grade graduation and start of summer party. We got to celebrate being done with Elementary school and becoming a middle schooler.
My three sisters had a ton of friends show up for their parties and it was exciting to know that I was able to have one myself.
Even though I didn’t have very many friends, I decided to send out a ton of invitations to my classmates.
Including the ones who haven’t been very nice to me throughout the years. Some were very condescending when they received their invitation.
I couldn’t comprehend their tone back then, but I do now. And the way they expressed their thanks, “Wow! So cool! Thanks!” was very condescending.
A day I’ll never forget.
I had one of my friends give an invitation to Benny, the boy I had a huge crush on in sixth grade.
I was eagerly waiting for recess to find out what happened when he received his invitation.
When the time came, my friend informed me that he ripped up his invitation and threw it away. I felt my heart fall to my stomach, and I fought off the urge to cry.
My party came around and I had four people show up.
Out of the 30 invitations I sent out, only four kids showed up. My sisters had a ton of kids show up for their party, I only had four.
I was so embarrassed by that whole ordeal, and I’m still embarrassed. Was I that unlikeable that no one wanted to come to my party or even try to be my friend?
I was hurt a lot by this whole experience and to this day, I’m still hurt. I’m 31 years old, and an experience that happened when I was in sixth grade is still painful.
Some days I even want to cry because of it, but why? Why do I still feel the urge to cry over something that has happened almost two decades ago?
Because I let it have power over me and my emotions, that’s why.
I never let it go.
I never let go of the pain and the anger I felt over how I was treated throughout the years in elementary school.
And it wasn’t just the experience I went through involving my end of the sixth-grade party; that was just the tip of the ice burg.
I was treated horribly by the other kids in school. It was so bad that my childhood trauma consumed me.
The trauma was like stepping in gum; it came with me wherever I went, and now I’m 31 and it’s still stuck to me.
Because I never let go of the pain, I never got help to repair my damaged self-esteem, I never became confident in my skin.
I always feel like the oddball, and I still feel like I’m not well-liked by other people, which just baffles me because I’m nice.
I'm a nice person, damn it!
It’s no surprise that my social anxiety has gotten worse and how I feel more at peace embracing my Introvert personality.
Taking back my power and learning to let go.
Even though the trauma I faced in school as a child has damaged my self-esteem and has haunted me my whole life, I need to learn how to let go.
It’s the right time for me to finally break free from the chains that held me down my whole life.
I’ll never be able to be truly happy if I don’t learn to let go and take back my power.
Taking back my power is telling my childhood memories that they don’t get to have power over me anymore, and they are done hurting me.
Taking back your power and telling your painful childhood memories to fuck off takes learning the right tips on how to do that.
You need to get sick and tired of feeling depressed and angry, tired of all the hours you spent crying over how you were treated as a child.
You need to get tired of dealing with this pain because that is when you’ll finally be ready to act and make the changes you need to move on and be happy.
Drop your victim mentality and walk away.
Carrying around all the pain and anger from your childhood trauma makes you start identifying as a victim.
You believe you wouldn’t feel this way if you weren’t hurt and treated badly as a child.
Your childhood trauma is done and over and in the past; how you choose to deal with it is up to you.
You have two choices: You can choose to hold onto the past and continue to hurt and be angry, or you can choose to let go of the hurt, accept what’s done is done, and move on.
I do understand that this one is easier said than done since you’ve been harboring these emotions for years—in my case twenty years!
You’re not going to get an apology, so stop waiting for one.
It would be nice to get an apology from the people who hurt you, the schoolmates that bullied you, and anyone who caused your childhood trauma.
But we need to face the reality that getting an apology is most likely not going to happen.
We need to consider the year or years of everything that happened that was a result of your trauma, and the age you are now.
Chances are they don’t even remember what they did, said, or even you.
I was 10 years old when I started getting bullied by the other kids, in fourth grade, which was the start of my childhood trauma.
In less than six months I’ll be 32—do you think the kids that bullied me when I was ten remember anything about it?
I highly doubt it, since we’re all in our 30s.
So, the point is, don’t waste your precious time waiting for an apology you’ll never get. It’s pointless, and I think deep down you believe that as well.
You need to be strong and you need to believe in yourself.
I know you don’t want to continue to hurt and suffer from something that happened years ago, so choose to stop hurting.
Yes, it’s going to be hard, and it’s not going to happen overnight, but if you are truly determined to stop hurting from childhood trauma, you’ll be able to do it and find happiness.
Once you start accepting that it’s in the past and you can’t change it, you drop the victim mentality and accept that you’ll most likely never get an apology.
You’ll be able to start building up your self-esteem so you can feel confident in your skin and confident in the world around you.