Was having this exact conversation last night 👏 | Remember: You are not alone 🧜♀️ #Repost @theempoweredtherapist ・・・
Children who experience trauma are likely to undergo a shift where they attend more to their external environment than their internal cues. When their family or household is unsafe, they may begin to utilize survival strategies in order to cope with the chaos or harm they are experiencing; they may begin to function for others as a way to survive their upbringing.
Children surviving trauma are often forced into people-pleasing roles. They may come to believe that if they can control their environment (read: keep their caregivers "happy") then they can maintain safety; they may come to believe that if they are perfect or need-less then they can stay out of harm's way. Of course the developing brain is not aware of this process, this is innate, this is automatic, this shift is solely for survival's sake.
The traumatized child may appear to have it all together, all of the time. These are the kids who are told, "I never had to worry about you" or "I have always been able to talk to you like you were an adult" or some other inappropriate statement that a caregiver says to someone who is in fact, not their peer. Children are not their parents' peers, ever. Children are never met to meet the needs of their caregivers and yet when trauma is existing within the household, when untreated trauma is present for the adult, the child often becomes the one to carry the burden.
The burden of having to grow up too soon has a lot of consequences as we age. We may settle into perfectionism because we believe people expect us to perform flawlessly all of the time. We may develop an unhealthy relationship with food or our bodies because we may try to grab onto the feeling of control in any place we can. We may have a history of relational disturbances because we may believe our role is to take care of others, rather than find someone who meets our own needs. We may not even have a sense for what our needs are.
To those of you who had to grow up too fast, who had to caretake your caregiver, and who had to act 'as if' in order to survive, I see you.