Growing up I was the timid type. I had no older brother or sister and we lived in a ghetto area. So it was hard navigating through my teenage years as a girl. I tried to fix myself in certain girl groups. Most of which I never really fit in. They were either above my league or they resented me. It was a harsh experience.
In primary school, I was bullied by most of my classmates, likely because I was one of the smartest students and the teacher’s favourite.
I had this friend (let’s call her Kay). We grew up together as age mates, and when she joined the primary school I was attending, I was excited to have someone to talk to at school. However, to my dismay, she sided with the bullies to dig up old stories about me and ridicule me.
One time I was accused of stealing our teacher’s necklace, though she knew I was innocent, she made sure I was punished. Even when someone tried to clear my name, she bullied them into silence.
I was broken, she was supposed to be my friend. I always wondered why she couldn’t see me the way I saw her. I loved her or maybe I sought her validation, so no matter what she did, I tried to still be friends with her.
Our primary school ended, and we got admitted to different secondary schools. No longer living in the same area or attending the same school, though we still attend the same church, our friendship didn’t go on. We didn’t get to meet too often. And the times we met, we didn’t have much to talk about.
Now, years have passed since primary school, but I still carry the trauma of being bullied. Even though we’re adults now, it still hurts, especially when we are in touch. I wish she knew how much her actions hurt me. I find it difficult to discuss it with her.
I have tried to rekindle our friendship [at least, the one we had before she aligned with my bullies]. But sometimes, some of the things she does or says remind me of the past.
I tried to excuse her behaviour because we were kids then, but it didn’t reduce the pain I had to go through.
I have forgiven her, or at least I’m working towards it, but the pain lingers.
Maybe one day, we will get to talk about it and maybe it’s only that closure that will completely heal me. But I learnt from that experience. I am always mindful of what I say to others because I know exactly how it feels to be bullied even as a joke.
Does Bullying Cause Childhood Trauma?
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is often associated with adults who have experienced severe trauma in their lives. This trauma could be from a series of unfortunate events like;
- Severe accident.
- Prolonged illness
- Financial setbacks
- Failed relationships
- Sexual assault or abuse
- Lose of a loved one, like a baby or siblings.
- Major health issues, like going to chemotherapy.
- Ghastly encounters/experiences, like seeing someone badly hurt or die, like in a car crash.
However, children too, suffer trauma from experiences they had while growing up. And bully induced trauma is one of those experiences. It is safe to say that most of our adult problems – including poor health, social and educational outcomes, etcetera – are a result of childhood traumas (sometimes, from bullying) that we didn’t heal from.
As kids, there are feelings we have that other people invalidate because they can’t relate. And because of that, many children end up traumatized and carry this trauma into adulthood. An example was when I confided in an adult who was my neighbour about my issues with my friend, I was already in secondary school then. I told her about our encounter while in primary school and how I’m finding it difficult to cope with making new friends in school because I’m afraid my new friends will turn against me at some point. She dismissed it and told me I was only being dramatic and overthinking things. After that, I never bothered to talk to anyone about it again.
There’s no telling how negatively, traumatized people are affected. It is evident in their relationship and dealings with other people. Traumatized people tend to ruin their relationships even before they begin. This is because they create a defence mechanism to protect them from having similar experiences. And it makes it hard to experience real and genuine friendships.
Symptoms of Childhood Trauma from Bullying
One of the PTSDs I suffer from that experience with Kay is that I’m always triggered when someone accuses me of something I didn’t do. I go over and beyond trying to prove my innocence even when it is no longer necessary. Also, most times, I perceive certain actions as bullying. I react on impulse sometimes by being defensive when other people say or do certain things around me.
Here are other ways childhood trauma manifests itself in adults;
Victims of bullying often experience a range of emotions including fear, anxiety, sadness and anger. The constant stress and emotional turmoil can lead to mood swings and emotional instability.
For example, reliving my primary school bully experiences evokes sharp pangs of sadness and rage.
Citing my experience as an example, being bullied as a child, made me sensitive to accusations as an adult because my self-esteem was crushed.
Bullying can contribute to the development of depression in children. Feelings of hopelessness and despair may arise as a result of prolonged and constant victimization.
Many victims of bullying, myself included, often isolate themselves from social interactions to avoid further victimization. This often results in loneliness.
However, there’s always a silver lining in every cloud. I believe that healing is possible. And when one is truly healed from the things that hurt them, they will experience life on a brighter side.
Get our free eBook on how to live a happy and meaningful life when you input your email now.
Here are some powerful tips on healing from childhood Trauma
Take time to reflect on your past experiences and how they affect your life presently.
At a point in my life, I had to accept that I was traumatized and my childhood experiences were the main cause. Accepting my experiences and traumas helped me to be more open to healing from them.
Establish healthy boundaries:
Learn to set and enforce healthy boundaries in your current relationship. Recognize that it’s okay to say “no” when something makes you uncomfortable.
Build a support system:
Cultivate relationship with friends and loved ones who provide a safe and supportive environment for your healing journey. Sharing your experiences with trusted individuals can be very therapeutic. I know this part can be a bit difficult because you might have trusted people who ended up betraying you. This is why the next point is very important.
Identify toxic patterns:
It will help if you take time to reflect on the toxic dynamics of your past relationships. Understanding these patterns can help you avoid similar situations in the future. Also, minimize exposure to triggers that may worsen your trauma symptoms.
Be gentle with yourself and acknowledge that healing takes time. Avoid self-blame for the mistakes of the past and prioritize self-love. Engage in self-care activities like exercises, meditation and stress management.
When I started engaging more in self-satisfying activities, I found out I was slowly recovering from the low self-esteem issues I had suffered. I felt happier and more satisfied with myself. And so, I highly recommend this tip.
Art and creative expression:
Engage in creative outlets like writing, music, drawing, or photography, to express your feelings and find healing through self-expression. Letting out your feelings through arts is a powerful healing tool from trauma and pain. The good part is that you can kill two or more birds with just one stone. You get better at your skill, you heal from your trauma and you get to build a career in some cases.
Many successful artists have been said to have started their careers when they were dealing with traumas. J.K Rowling, the brain behind the successful Harry Potter film, said she wrote the piece when she was going through serious depression.
Journal your feelings:
Keeping a journal can help you process your emotions and thoughts related to the trauma, providing clarity and a sense of release. You might not be consistent with journaling your feelings and it might not be rewarding at first, but in the long run, you will realize how much better you get by being consistent.
You can consider forgiving those who hurt you in the past, not for their sake but for your own peace of mind and healing.
I know this because it worked for me. When I made the decision to forgive my friend and started working towards it, I felt lighter. Like a huge burden has been taken away from me. Forgiveness is a powerful tool in letting go of resentment and healing from Trauma.
Focus on growth:
Challenge negative thoughts and use your past experiences as opportunities for personal growth. Work on reframing negative thought patterns and replacing them with positive and more constructive ones.
Take small steps:
Healing is a gradual process. So be gentle with yourself and focus on taking small manageable steps towards recovery.
Seek professional counsel:
Reach out to a therapist or a counsellor with experience in trauma and interpersonal relationships. They can help you with the necessary support needed to navigate your trauma.
Remember that healing from Childhood and toxic friendship traumas is a journey and there’s no fixed timeline.
Also note that healing from trauma is a highly individual process and what worked best for one person may differ from another.
It’s essential to be patient with yourself as you work towards recovery. And seeking professional help is a crucial step in the journey.
Childhood traumas are profound experiences that can cast shadows on our adult lives. However, they need not define our future.
The journey of healing from childhood traumas is one of resilience, self-discovery and growth.
As we’ve explored throughout this article, acknowledging this wound is the first step towards recovery. It’s a brave act of self-compassion that allows us to shed the weight of our past and embrace the present.
Healing from childhood traumas involves confronting pains, revisiting memories and relearning how to trust both ourselves and others. It is a journey often marked by setbacks, but it is also one filled with moments of triumph and self-recovery.
There were times I’d be overwhelmed with emotions and I couldn’t explain how I felt, but I soon found out it only gets better with time. I haven’t completely healed yet, but I can confidently say that I’m better than I was before and that’s good news.
Ultimately, healing from childhood traumas is a testament to the remarkable human capacity for resilience and transformation. It is an affirmation of the fact that despite our past, we have the power to shape our future, choosing a path that leads to wholeness, self-love, and the promise of brighter days ahead.
Below are some more content you might find helpful:
- Trauma: How It Kills You [And How To Heal]
- 15 Practices That Will Help You Overcome Inferiority Complex
- Gain Confidence In Yourself With These 10 Tips
- How Does Self-love Change Your Life?
- How To Live Happily: A Short Book About Living A Happy, And A Meaningful Life [Free ebook PDF]
A versatile writer.
Lover of nature and arts.
Also interested in music and movies.