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How can I heal childhood trauma?

(82 Posts)
Iusedtobedontcall Fri 30-Dec-16 14:43:53

This is going to be long. I apologise in advance.
As a child I was brought up by my mum for the first three years of my life. My dad was absent and I've never met him. She met my stepdad who was violent towards me and my mum. I was very frightened of him. I remember getting my lip bust when getting in between them in a fight aged 7. He once hit me on my leg so hard that his handprint came up in bubbles on my leg. Once with a hairbrush so the bristles pierced my skin. I didn't tell my mum as it would start a big row and I'd be blamed.
They had children together and I actually get on with my stepdad now. He's not like this anymore. So I feel bad for writing this down but I need to get this out.
I developed bulimia in my late teens. Did well at school, got into Oxford. Was lonely and unhappy. Had a relationship for two years where I behaved quite erractically. I cheated on him and was desperate for attention from anyone. I thought that I was only worth something when a man wanted me. The relationship was destructive but I felt dependent on him. The bulimia got worse and I was being sick six times a day at one point.
Then I got together a man I met in the pub. He wasn't even really someone I was particularly attracted to. We eventually married and had three dcs. He gambled and drank excessively throughout our marriage and I eventually left him.
Then I started online dating. I had two short term things and was dumped twice. Distraught both times, yet desperate to find another relationship to show that I was worth something.
Got together with latest bf of two years. It started out really well. He was loving and affectionate. After 5 months said he loved me. Then slowly fell out of love. We started playing sex games to get the spark back. He started seeing other women and telling me what he got up to with them. We did a sub/dom thing where he told me I was worthless etc. I ended up actually feeling used. Ended it. He came over yesterday and we had sex. Then I found out he was taking one of these women to a wedding tonight. He was telling me what he got up to with her and telling me he'd get naked pics to show me.
I've blocked him and I need to stay well away. It's all wrong and twisted. My whole view on relationships is warped. I suffer from depression and I felt so low I just wanted everything to stop today. There's a voice inside my head saying I'm not good enough.
My mum tells me just to use people. That's not me at all. Shes had a lot of cosmetic work done and everyone says how stunning she is. She has admirers who buy her things etc. She is encouraging me to have a nose job saying it'll make me feel better. Although my self esteem is on the floor, I know objectively that I'm not unattractive.
I sound like a nightmare. I feel out of control. I have a history of warped relationships. So what do I do? Obviously be single right now!!! I've had counselling and cbt. Didn't find it hugely effective. Maybe a different counsellor? I'm on anti depressants. I sometimes feel angry that this childhood might mean that I am destined for abusive relationships or just to be alone. I want to change that for myself and my dc. Please help and please don't judge me too harshly. I already judge myself.

Iusedtobedontcall Fri 30-Dec-16 14:54:31

I also used to drink too much when I was younger and I would engage in risk taking behaviour. I try to avoid alcohol now as I feel so low the day after. Just trying to sit and process this and will look for counsellors.

Iusedtobedontcall Fri 30-Dec-16 15:03:50


pimmsy Fri 30-Dec-16 15:05:27

Hello IUsedtobedontcall,

I don't really know if I have any useful advice but didn't want to read and run.

I would say that you have réalised things have to change and that you deserve better. This is a giant first step.

I would also say that I very much doubt you need a nose job.

An ex who I still have a good relationship with once said to me that I gave off vibes of "love me so I can love myself" and that I had to learn to change those vibes to " I love myself enough to know if you're trying to play games with me".
And that even if to start off with, I didn't quite believe it myself if I could just muster up enough pretence, in time the way people treated me would change, and that I could learn to love myself.

I'm sure others will be along with sound advice.

Hang on in there, things can and do change.

BusyHomemaker Fri 30-Dec-16 15:07:04

Perhaps a psychotherapist could help you?

And for what's it's worth, I don't judge you. You have a lot to process but you sound like you are going to get there. Good luck flowers

Waitingfordolly Fri 30-Dec-16 15:07:41

Sorry you've had to experience this. There's an excellent book that explains the impact of trauma called The Body Keeps The Score. It explains why people react the way they do because of trauma and why traditional counselling or CBT is often not effective, nor antidepressants, because it's about dealing with how you react because of how your brain has been wired as a response to abuse at an emotional rather than rational or chemical level. My experience is that many counsellors don't have enough understanding of this. For me just having this understanding has helped me to work out what is going on. You might want to seek out dialectical behaviour therapy, which is designed for this. Mindfulness and yoga are also helpful to put you in touch with your body and how you are reacting. Also building strong relationships with people who are emotionally stable can help you to regulate your own emotions. You might also want to see whether there is a women's centre near you that might provide emotional management or the freedom programme (around domestic violence). I would see it as gradually taking steps in the right direction, which over time will get you to a better place. Good luck flowers

LockedOutOfMN Fri 30-Dec-16 15:08:09

I would go to see a counsellor to talk through all of the unhappiness you've suffered. Maybe your GP can refer you. Also maybe a support group would help you; I'm afraid I can't give more advice beyond that as I'm not an expert, but I couldn't read and run.

I think you've made a great step forward in blocking that man and urge you to surround yourself with positive and kind people who make you feel good about yourself...maybe your mum means well but she doesn't seem to be helping you at the moment and probably bringing you further down.

Good luck.

Iusedtobedontcall Fri 30-Dec-16 15:12:18

Thank you so much. It helps to have it confirmed I guess that this was abuse. One thing with the latest man is that he was a lovely person and I sort of turned him into a monster, encouraging all these games. I might look for a psychotherapist. It's scary this feeling. When I was bulimic I would eat to block out emotions.

toptoe Fri 30-Dec-16 15:12:45

Therapy. You need a professional to work it through with.

I'd say you have very low self worth because instinctively a child blames themself when an adult is unkind. So you couldn't blame him, or your mum for not protecting you, so you blamed yourself. As there was nothing wrong with you, you punished your body with bulimia etc because in actual fact there was nothing you needed to change.

Therapy will investigate the causes and unravell this damaging self punishment for the things others did/do to you.

toptoe Fri 30-Dec-16 15:15:59

x post. You also take the blame for what your latest bf did, when actually he is 100% responsible for how he chooses to treat you. Sack him off. Get a list together of how you would actually like to be treated. If you don't know then again a therapist will help you create one. Meantime, no intimate relations until you know how to treat yourself well.

Iusedtobedontcall Fri 30-Dec-16 15:17:58

I've emailed a psychotherapist who also does dialectical behaviour therapy. The therapy I've had before hasn't touched the sides really.

Iusedtobedontcall Fri 30-Dec-16 15:19:08

Yes I tend to take the blame for everything. I sometimes wonder if I have borderline personality disorder, but labels don't matter really. I just need the right therapy and lots of it.

KittyandTeal Fri 30-Dec-16 15:24:07

Please don't take this the wrong way; this sounds very, very like me (although I am now much more stable since finding and marrying dh)

I am diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. The erratic behaviour, low self esteem and destructive relationships that you cling on to really resonate with me.

I only say this because in terms of getting professional help (which I really think you need) often they will use different techniques and approaches with a person with bpd. For example cbt generally doesn't work well. You need to see a psychiatrist a good few times for a diagnosis though.

Iusedtobedontcall Fri 30-Dec-16 15:27:59

Kitty I've often thought that. I don't know if my behaviour is extreme enough to get a diagnosis or what I'd even say? I identify a lot with traits of it though. I've found a therapist who does dialectical behavioural therapy.

KittyandTeal Fri 30-Dec-16 15:35:09

Tbh my behaviour hasn't ever been 'extreme' but it has made me miserable for many years. I have also had a string if eating disorders (they often go hand in hand)

Dbt sounds like a great option. I wish I could find one. No one around here does it, I'm on a massive waiting list through adult mh services.

Waitingfordolly Fri 30-Dec-16 15:35:49

Yeah I think I have personality disorder traits though I'm largely okay now, but therapy has been limited use in the past because it's working on the wrong things. I've only recently heard about DBT though. Basically our emotional and rational thought bits of our brains are not as well connected as you'd think, so understanding something at a cognitive level doesn't mean you can change it at an emotional one by thinking about it. Just knowing this has helped me, it's a relief that I behaved in ways that other people considered bad because of my biology and not because I was a bad or weak person. When I'm feeling threatened now I'm much better at observing it and realising that I'm reacting to something in my past. I was also a high achiever, and very much tried to minimise the other bit of me that drank too much and self harmed, but am coming more to see myself as a whole person who has been shaped good and bad by experiences out of my control. It is a lifetime journey though, some of those feelings will always be there, but I can accept that as I mostly deal with them much better.

Waitingfordolly Fri 30-Dec-16 15:37:42

And definitely read the Body Keeps The Score, it has transformed how I think about myself.

Iusedtobedontcall Fri 30-Dec-16 15:47:01

I will get that book definitely.

Iusedtobedontcall Fri 30-Dec-16 16:01:11

I'm feeling a bit lost and shaky.

Waitingfordolly Fri 30-Dec-16 16:35:13

What can you do to be good to yourself now? Read a book? Exercise? Have a bath? Sing? Feelings will come and go, so having some good ways to "self soothe" is helpful. Even just breathing. Doing more of those things all the time will help too. You don't need to deal with it all now, just sit it out.

Iusedtobedontcall Fri 30-Dec-16 17:05:31

I'm going to my friend's house for tea. That will be nice.

worldsworstchildren Fri 30-Dec-16 17:15:13

I don't have any real advice other than if you are tempted to hook up with ex that you come on MN instead until the moment passes.
You have taken a huge first step by writing it all down on here do eloquently.
Perhaps when you see a new therapist you show them everything you've written as it mIght be easier than explaining it in the first instance.
You are worth it and I wish you well flowers

Tryingfailingagain Fri 30-Dec-16 17:17:05

It's hard, I don't mean to be harsh to other posters but everyone who told me to have a bath or read a book or be kind to myself was so well meaning but i literally could have just gone mad.
Feeling self destructive means it's incredibly hard to do anything nice for yourself
Sometimes the inability to do nice things for yourself makes you feel worse! As if you can't be a normal human.
I put myself into some very dark situations when I was younger.
Counselling more counselling, so many are wrong you have to find the right one, do not feel guilty for shopping around.
Knowing you're not alone.
Knowing that even people who don't know you, that are sitting on the internet know you are a fundamentally good human and you are worth a huge amount to this world
Anyway fX

Tryingfailingagain Fri 30-Dec-16 17:17:29

Sorry phone nightmare
Just to say you're not alone x

KittyandTeal Fri 30-Dec-16 17:33:04

Have you tried grounding when you feel like this?

I used to get it a lot and then feel quite disassociated. I found stopping, standing up, close your eyes and breath slowly. Focus on your feet on the ground, if it helps stamp them. I also find running the length of my nose grounding (although that might just be me) and if all else fails I pinch my arm gently, not enough to leave a mark but enough to make me jump a bit

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