ENDLESSLY ALONE: CONNECTING THE DOTS BETWEEN CHILDHOOD TRAUMA AND CHRONIC LONELINESS & ISOLATION.
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Hi Love! I'm Morgan and I'm a childhood trauma survivor, 1:1 coach, and the creator of Rising Warrior Collective. a safe space for survivors of childhood trauma to begin healing. If you're ready to take your healing to the next level, let's connect and talk about what it looks like to work 1:1.
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In the last couple years, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, there has been a tremendous rise in the awareness of isolation and loneliness of people all around the world, this however, is far from a new phenomenon for those of us who experienced developmental trauma and family dysfunction. Living through a pandemic for the last two years has certainly caused a high level of societal isolation and ultimately loneliness, there’s no question about that. For survivors of childhood trauma however, the depth of isolation and loneliness reaches far beyond the last two years.
As a childhood trauma survivor, I understand loneliness and Isolation in a way that many couldn’t begin to comprehend. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you do as well. This is because those of us who experienced significant childhood trauma are at a much higher risk of experiencing chronic loneliness and isolation in adulthood.
Childhood trauma is closely correlated with depression and anxiety (including social anxiety) in adulthood, inhibiting an individual’s ability to socialize effectively — and to form meaningful long-term relationships. Individuals who have difficulty forming healthy emotional connections are, therefore, more likely to feel chronic and/or intensified feelings of loneliness.
The loneliness and isolation experienced by childhood trauma survivors is rooted deeply in the earliest heartbreaks that we were forced to navigate during our most vulnerable years, inflicted by the people who were supposed to love, nurture, and care for us – unwaveringly and unconditionally, but failed to do so. Even if we know it’s not true, this deep-seated interpersonal trauma can make us feel as if we are completely alone in this giant world of 8 billion people.
“Loneliness for a trauma survivor is often linked to feelings of shame and inadequacy, so people who suffer tend to hide it from others. They can be skilled at masking these feelings in their social interactions. By all outward appearances, they seem “fine,” but inside, their loneliness plagues them.”
Because I grew up with parents and caretakers who were battling addiction, mental health challenges, and past unhealed traumas of their own; I experienced emotional and physical abuse and neglect, narcissistic abuse, gaslighting, abandonment, constant disappointment, and parentification (when the roles between parent and child are reversed) on an ongoing basis. As a result, I was alone and on my own a LOT as a child, adolescent, young adult, and even into my early adult years.
While trauma is more common than we would expect, most kids experience some level of trauma in childhood, it’s impossible after all to be a “PERFECT” parent, there’s a big difference between having a traumatic experience as a child and living a traumatic childhood day after day with no relief.
Long-term developmental trauma happens during our developmental years, often by our care-takers, and for extended periods of time. Because of this our brains are wired around the traumatic experiences which are commonly related to a lack of safety, care-taking, love, support, attunement, and co-regulation from our caretakers.
A child raised in an emotionally and physically healthy environment learns early on that they are loved, supported, and cared for by their tribe. Their parents and care-takers attune to them when they are scared and need connection. This helps them learn how to self-regulate their nervous systems. The neural pathways in their brains become wired to help them feel connected to themselves and the outside world in a way that feels safe and supported.
As developmental trauma survivors on the other hand, we never got the opportunity to develop these important inner resources because our care-takers unhealed trauma, mental health, dysfunction, and/or addictions more often than not, hijacked all the focus in our families. As young children we were left to navigate the world (both inner and outer) on our own and in many circumstances we even became our parents care-takers (emotionally and/or physically).
“Children don’t get traumatized because they’re hurt, they get traumatized because they’re alone with the hurt.” ~ Gabor Mate
This early abandonment caused our neural pathways to become wired to believe that the world and the people in it were not safe, supportive, reliable, or loving. The messages we received over and over again from our own brains were: “It’s you against the world,” “nobody loves you,” “you are alone and always will be,” “you can only count on and trust yourself.” We learned to live alone in our fight to both emotionally and physically survive.
Children who grow up with persistent traumatic experiences are more likely to feel lonely and socially isolated. This means that childhood trauma can rob us of the ability to form meaningful relationships, make it harder to feel safe, and cause lasting effects on our mental health. When not healed this cycle continues to repeat itself well into our adult lives, causing us to feel isolated and alone no matter who is or isn’t around us.
So how do we heal this part of our story so that we can create healthy, safe, and intentional relationships that last? Well the fact that you’re here right now, reading this, is a great first step! I’m so glad you’re here.
Awareness is the very first step we must take toward healing our past. In order to understand why we are navigating our adult lives the way we are, we have to understand what happened to us. This does not mean you have to trudge down into the depths of your past experiences and relive them all over again. It also doesn’t mean we have to villainize the people who hurt us. It just means getting curious and having a willingness to connect the dots to gain a deeper understanding of how our trauma impacts us today.
We can’t speak to healing trauma without talking about inner-child healing. While logically it seems like we can simply solve loneliness and isolation, as trauma survivors, by having more people around, this is rarely, if ever the isolated solution. If you’ve ever experienced feeling alone, sad, depressed, and anxious while in a room full of community then you know this to be true. While we do need loving relationships to heal, the relationship within must be addressed in order to trust and let in the external relationships that we need to further heal within community.
This life-long loneliness and isolation that you’ve experienced is rooted in the abandonment wound. This is not an easy wound to heal on our own. Finding support in a trauma informed professional such as a therapist or coach can be deeply helpful and rewarding. Check out my blog “Trauma Recovery Coaching Vs. Therapy,” if you want to learn more about the difference between therapy and coaching.
It is possible to heal this wound, find internal love and safety and in turn build an external community that feels safe, supportive, loving, and intentional. It takes work and a deep commitment to your healing but if you’ve made it this far as a trauma survivor, I have no doubt in your ability to achieve anything you set your mind to!
If you are ready to connect the dots between what happened to you and how it is impacting your adult life so that you can finally begin to heal those wounds and build healthy relationships, I would love to support you. My 1:1 coaching container creates a compassionate, non-judgmental, and safe space that meets you right where you are today. From there we move at a pace that supports your life, goals, and visions for your unique and beautiful future, a future that can look anyway you CHOOSE.
Click here to book your free 1-hour discovery call.
You never know how one conversation could shift the direction of your life.
Lots of love ~ Morgan
September 6, 2022