A difficult childhood can be defined as one where one or both parents may have been in addiction, have had a difficult childhood themselves that they never dealt with, they may have had anger issues and therefore were frightening, or they may have been cold and critical and perhaps unloving. One or both parents may have been controlling and not accepting of their child’s wishes and/or character.
This can be a stressful and unsupportive environment for a child to grow up in and can lead to all kinds of insecurities such as feelings of not being good enough, feelings of being unsure of who they are, what they really want in life or a feeling that something is wrong but they are not sure what it is.
Commonly, in adulthood, people who have come from difficult backgrounds may:
have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep
often feel emotionally overwhelmed
have nightmares or flashbacks
feel a lot of shame or worthlessness
be chronic people pleasers
have panic attacks
may worry excessively and usually expect the worst to happen
have addictive behaviours
have an eating disorder
have chronic pain
have feelings of anxiety, be irritable, often feel stressed, be depressed at times, have frequent feelings of anger or a feeling that they have anger below the surface that they try not to express or feel.
Many of these are coping mechanisms or can be issues that we don’t want to face ‘leaking through’ into our consciousness.
Talking through these painful issues can be cathartic and there are also practical steps that can be taken to overcome and resolve the side effects of coming from a difficult background.
This can help people to feel lighter, unburdened and no longer as anxious.