Legacy of Childhood Experiences

One of the worst things about ‘struggling on’, is how you keep repeating old habits or behaviour patterns even though you know they’re not working for you. For example, turning to food or a glass of wine to cope with pressure and stress or finding yourself overworked, helping everyone else and putting yourself last. The need to escape patterns of behaviour like this and find solace, can be an indication of an historic Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE).

If interactions with bosses, colleagues, friends, parents, siblings, or your own children, feel strained, awkward or volatile and trigger strong reactions in you, they can easily be dismissed as everyday life. Eventually, it becomes our normal and we live in a cycle of resigned stuck-ness. When these frustrations persist, it impacts our health and wellbeing.

How was ACE first identified?

In 1998 a ground-breaking study carried out by Dr Vincent Felitti and Robert Andas clearly demonstrated the inextricable link between the level of adversity and trauma experienced in childhood and the illnesses that emerge in adults. Further studies went on to show how the direct correlation between the number of childhood stressors and unprocessed traumas have proven to be accurate predictors of major illnesses, such as heart disease, strokes and cancers as well as being linked to a much higher incidence of auto immune conditions; including misunderstood and multi-faceted illnesses such as ME, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.

Who is affected by ACE?

If we have had a childhood, we have experienced adversity; but not necessarily an ACE. I have an in-depth understanding of the kinds of adversity and how they impact the way a child’s brain and nervous system develop. I also recognise how quite normal situations can show-up as an internal threat or small ‘t’ trauma in an adult’s life; especially if they were exposed to an environment which lacked the support they needed. For example, the manager who gets defensive when being challenged.
In any difficult situation, humans are resourceful and, most often, will recognise the need to do, or stop doing, something in order to make things better. These coping mechanisms become automatic over time. This explains why more and more adults are finding themselves trapped in frustrating cycles of procrastination, avoidance or being stuck, instead of being able to move forward and achieve their goals or experience peace of mind.

How do I know if I’ve been affected?

Most adults go through life unaware of how old unprocessed grief or trauma is impacting them on a daily basis. They are skilled in recognising the repercussions and links between what they’re experiencing now and where those patterns may have been formed. What’s needed is someone with the know how to support you best in releasing unconscious, unprocessed trauma that, once stored in the body, is likely to create symptoms and obstacles to your emotional and physical wellbeing.

Small ‘t’ traumas do not fall into the same category as Big T traumas; car crashes, being caught up in a dangerous war zone, being unable to escape. No, small ‘t’ traumas are those events or situations in which a child will feel helpless and in which their nervous system will become overwhelmed. As children, we simply do not have the resources to deal with complex family situations and life events.

Growing up in a home with controlling or divorcing parents, a loss of a beloved parent, sibling, grandparent or friend and/or feeling unsafe, creates a low level ongoing toxic stress which affects how we see ourselves in the world and whether we will feel confident to try new things or hold ourselves back from the adventure. It also determines how easy or challenging we will find our close relationships.

How common are ACE’s?

70% of adults have experienced ACE’s and a large proportion of those affected live with the impact every day by experiencing struggles with procrastination, difficulty in personal and intimate relationships with our families and significant others. This is because unprocessed grief, trauma and adversity impacts every aspect of who we become as an adult. This has finally filtered through to our healthcare services, which are based on an acute disease model that tends to focus on treating physical symptoms rather than exploring the underlying and often hidden causes of ill health.

By becoming aware of your personal ACE traumas, you can normalise events and reprocess them with an adult’s perspective. This will enable you to let go of both the recurring triggering of emotions and the accompanying repeating patterns of behaviour that are keeping you stuck.

Can you recover from something that happened in childhood?

Yes, the good news is that there are many ways to recover. Some do it with journalling, art, music and counselling which is a gentle process that can take time. But if you’re ready to let go of your difficulties sooner than that, I can talk about how I approach it.

First, there will have been a reason that you asked for help, so I listen to your story and take you through a series of steps that will explain much more to you and allow memories and recollections to spring up comfortably. You’ll also be tested for ACE’s and being a Highly Sensitive person. The tone of the meeting is always respectful and light-hearted, even when talking about difficult things.

Recognising that it happened in the past and that you are now in the present with a wonderful future ahead of you, is key to the process. All sessions are supportive and there’s no need to re-experience trauma when talking about something that happened so many years ago. All we’re doing is looking at what’s happening in your life now and unpacking the events that might have rendered you acutely sensitive to them.

Finally, we release the emotions attached to them, preserve the positive learnings, re-evaluate the events with the eyes of the adult you are now, and let them go. If you’re Highly Sensitive or you have ME or Chronic Fatigue, we’ll go slower than that at a pace that’s right for you.
All sessions are held online via Zoom which allows for a very personal, very confidential level of communication.

What’s it like to recover?

For everyone, the recovery process is life changing as you reclaim who you really are and let go of all that baggage. Clients have told me they feel lighter, more optimistic and laugh like they haven’t laughed for years. Thank you for your interest in freeing yourself from the effects of childhood trauma. I look forward to helping you and answering any questions you may have.

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