I was raised in a home that embraced old-school styles of thinking in many ways.
You didn’t talk politics, and you didn’t talk family secrets (of which there were many). Instead, you kept your head down and your mouth shut. When you were out in the world, you put on a smile and shrugged. “That’s just how some families are, I guess.”
Now, you can’t stop me from talking about the family secrets that coated my life in shame. I wear my trauma, not proudly, but openly. I do this so that others can see it’s okay; so that all those other inner children know they are seen. It’s taken me a long time to get here, though, and I still find myself feeling doubtful and insecure.
Should we talk about our family trauma? When our parents made mistakes, should we put their missteps on blast for all the world to see?
The long answer is “yes”. While we all do it differently, we have to find a way to speak up when it comes to our childhood trauma. Keeping all that pain a secret only further internalizes that shame and that pain. When you keep the lid on tight, you’re telling your inner child, “Shut up. This was wrong. If others see it, they will know.”
Why we should all talk about our childhood trauma.
When you’re the product of childhood trauma, you spend the rest of your adult life rattled with anxiety and hopelessness. It leaves you lost, and it deprives you of key skills that will forever mar your future. Getting over this massive wall of upset and pain requires that we face it and work through it. As humans, that can only be done when we learn how to talk about what happened to us (with those we trust most).
It’s how you make sense of it
Let’s face it, talking about our trauma allows us to make sense of what happened to us. When we bring up those painful moments in the past, we can recall things long-buried. More than that, sharing our story with others allows them to present entirely new perspectives that can transform our own. Speaking up isn’t shaming anyone. It’s opening up the book and shining a light on the words so you can make sense of the story (and the ending).
It’s how you hold others accountable
I won’t lie to you and tell you that speaking up will get you justice. That’s highly unlikely. But when you speak truth to power, you hold them accountable – even if only to yourself. It doesn’t matter if you take off their mask to the world. Talking about what happened to you is taking off the mask of your abusers to yourself. And that’s a far more powerful thing. The monster under the bed, after all, is just as scared of adult you as you are of it.
It’s how you form connections
It doesn’t just take a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to heal your inner child. You need a community around you in order to keep moving forward. You can’t build that until you learn how to speak up about what happened to you. From there, it’s all about finding your group. There are people out there just like you who understand what it means to be hurt in the most innocent phase of their lives. Reach out to them and you will find a commonality that’s empowering and transformative.
It will free you from shame
Make no mistake about it: silence reinforces shame. When you keep quiet about what happened to you, you internalize that idea that you were somehow bad or wrong. You keep quiet because you think someone will be mad at you. You think you will get punished, or that someone you love will think less of you. The shame of childhood trauma can even convince you of extremes like death. Speaking up, however, rarely leads to anything short of emotional and mental freedom from the shame that holds us down.
It’s how you break the cycle
Talking about your trauma is how you break the cycle. Generations of trauma cycled through my family, year-after-year. Why? Because no one was talking about what was happening to them. So the perpetrators got away, and the victims never got help. What happened then? The victims turned into perpetrators and the whole cycle started all over again. By speaking up about what happened to me, I was able to wave a flag and put a stop to the madness that was happening all around me.
Putting it all together…
Overcoming the pain in our past cannot be done without talking about it. For many, that’s the hardest hurdle to overcome. All the same, taking that leap into the unknown will free us. When you speak up, you canconnect with others. Doing that empowers you to see reality and the binding bonds that lie in the shared experience of childhood dysfunction, trauma, and abuse.
Are you talking about your childhood trauma? No, you don’t have to start a blog. You don’t have to post about it on Facebook or cry on a TikTok for 3 minutes. You can talk about what happened to you in whatever way you need to. Reach out to a friend. Start a regular journaling practice. Look for an online community, or even in-person group therapy wherever you live.
There is no right way or wrong way to talk about your trauma. All that matters is that you face the truth that is holding you back. That pain will never go away. The sadness will always linger. But you can learn new ways to deal with it, and new behaviors that allow you to overcome the trauma of your past.
Start today by taking a leap of faith in yourself. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Now leap. It’s time for you to become the person you were always meant to be.