Early trauma can be devastating. It can take courage and support to move on from painful past experiences. Children who experience trauma and neglect may struggle with forming healthy relationships as adults. According to psychiatrist Dr. Grant Brenner, adults who suffer from developmental trauma are likely to develop Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or “cPTSD.” It is characterized by having difficulty regulating emotions, experiencing issues forging relationships and distorting perceptions of perpetrators of abuse. Here are some ways to tell if you’ve been impacted by developmental trauma.
You are Attracted to Destructive Relationships
People who have suffered trauma from caregivers or significant others try to find those who mimic their traumatic identity. They may feel that they are going to change that person for the better so they pursue narcissists or emotionally unavailable people frequently. Although, they may be aware that they deserve the opposite from what they are settling for, unconsciously, they repeat familiar patterns.
You Avoid Relationships
Trauma may lead people into believing they are “better off alone” and refuse to give relationships a chance. Avoiding close connections can be lonely and unrealistic. Building healthy ties with people may create a new idea of closeness, boost personal development and provide opportunities of change.
You Do Not Remember Much of Your Childhood
Living through trauma at a young age may cause you to forget moments of your childhood and only remember certain ones. Psychologists refer to this as “flashbulb memories.” Dr. Brenner says that people with significant developmental trauma dissociate from their early environment and may remain disconnected from themselves throughout childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood.
You Choose Neutral Stances on Emotions, or None at All
The inability to regulate strong emotions creates confusion and a false sense of self. Emotions are meant to be felt, even the negative ones. Adults who have been dealing with developmental trauma may find it difficult to feel anything. Some people may even limit themselves to feel boredom and frustration, or pretend everything is fine. Childhood trauma may cause them to develop trust issues and question the motives of people who show them kindness.