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How Childhood Trauma Can Wreck Your Adult Relationships

childhood trauma

Childhood trauma is something, not a lot of people feel comfortable talking about. It has such a horrible impact on a person’s psyche, that merely thinking about it can send that person into a deep depression. The impact of childhood trauma is such that, it can end up potentially destroying a person’s future relationships and everything along with it.

Childhood trauma damages our brains, but healing can occur. Jed Diamond, Ph.D., explains how to identify — and change — our self-limiting beliefs.

We all want real, lasting love in our lives. We spend a lot of time searching for that special someone, but even when we find them we can’t be sure the relationship will last. The majority of marriages fail, either ending in divorce and separation or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction. Of all the people who get married, only three in ten remain in healthy, happy marriages. Are most of us doomed to failure or is there something we’ve been missing that can help us live happily ever after?

“The greater a child’s terror, and the earlier it is experienced, the harder it becomes to develop a strong and healthy sense of self.” ― Nathaniel Branden

Being a psychotherapist who specializes in helping people with their relationships didn’t save me from making the same mistakes my clients were making. I had been married and divorced, was trying to parent our children while working and trying to have a social life. I not only felt discouraged about my own love life, but I felt like a fraud trying to help others achieve success where I had failed.

Before looking for love once again, I decided to take a break and learn everything I could about what made relationships work and what caused them to fail. I’m happy to say I’ve found some answers. I applied what I learned, met my present wife, Carlin, and we would’ve now been happily married for thirty-five years. I learned that the secret to developing a loving relationship that can last a lifetime was understanding the ways that childhood trauma impacts our lives.

Ongoing research from The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study demonstrates conclusively that childhood trauma can impact our physical, emotional, and relational health.

For the first time, I made the connection between my father’s attempted suicide when I was five and my adult depression, erectile dysfunction, and attention deficit problems. I understood, for the first time, that my mother’s withdrawal and constant worry contributed to my fears of abandonment and ongoing beliefs that I wasn’t safe.

Related: How Childhood Trauma Is Screwing Up Your Relationships

Identifying Childhood Trauma

The ACE study asked ten questions to assess childhood trauma. What surprised me was how many of us suffer from trauma.

Two-thirds of the study participants answered “yes” to at least one of the questions and if we answered “yes” to one there was a good chance that we answered “yes” to others. I had 4 Aces (Great in playing poker, not so great for my personal and relationship health).

See how many ACEs you’ve experienced:

Prior to your 18th birthday:

[1] Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?

[2] Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?

[3] Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?

[4] Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?

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