View this post on Instagram
I was in the car with my parents the other day when we passed through the town where they raised me.
My dad was talking to me when we passed by the nursery where my parents enrolled me 30 years ago.
Suddenly, I stop hearing dad, and my body—without my permission—took me to my first day there. I glimpsed the merry-go-round (which is a bit rusty now) and remembered the daycare teacher who was giving it a push to get it spinning and pleading with me to stop crying.
Then I saw the window…ah, I could never forget that window. The window where I anxiously waited for my parents to come take me home. I stood on a tiny yellow chair, my nose glued to the window glass, and my teardrops making the scenery hardly visible.
It was 3:30 p.m., and I was alone in the nursery. It was obvious that all parents picked up their children, but mine were nowhere to be seen; I thought they abandoned me.
I still remember my dad parking in front of that window in his big red Mercedes and my mom rushing to hold me, telling me they were stuck in traffic.
They didn’t abandon me; they never did. But to a three-year-old child’s mind, it was a temporary abandonment.
When I mentally came back to the present moment in the car, I heard my mom saying that she still remembers my first day at that “dismal” nursery. She told me she cried her eyes out when they were stuck in traffic, fearing I might think they abandoned me.
Mom’s heartfelt words and the sight of the nursery deeply affected me. I cried, and I was glad my parents couldn’t tell I was crying because I was wearing dark sunglasses.
I’ve been baffled since that day in the car with Mom and Dad. That incident happened exactly 30 years ago, and to be honest, it never crosses my mind. But when my memory jumped back to the past and my body felt as if it was there, again, I remembered the difficulty and discomfort of childhood wounds and the bad taste that trauma leaves in our mouths.
That’s precisely what makes it tough. We remember almost none of it. We think it was “just” an event at a particular time, “just” a silly memory, but we’re so wrong. The most difficult part of trauma is that it goes unrecognized—unnoticed. It’s a wound that stays throughout our adulthood and surprises us in moments of rejection, heartbreak, and insecurity.
To this day, I still grapple with fear of abandonment. But I keep reminding myself that I am worthy of love, attention, and validation and that one moment in time doesn’t define who I am today.
We all have childhood wounds, and we all deal with our own traumas on a daily basis. But knowing that we can heal and forge a new path for ourselves is always promising—and possible. Yesterday, I read a few quotes on childhood wounds, and I was overwhelmed with a deep sense of (unexplained) sadness.
I felt my heart break into millions of pieces, but I was also reminded that we’ve all been there, and we all have the opportunity to heal.
1. “A whole life can be shaped by an old trauma, remembered or not.” ~ Lenore Terr
2. “An unacknowledged trauma is like a wound that never heals over and may start to bleed again at any time.” ~ Alice Miller
3. “All of us carry around countless bags of dusty old knickknacks dated from childhood: collected resentments, long list of wounds of greater or lesser significance, glorified memories, absolute certainties that later turn out to be wrong. Humans are emotional pack rats. These bags define us.” ~ Marya Hornbacher
4. “It was a catch-22: If you didn’t put the trauma behind you, you couldn’t move on. But if you did put the trauma behind you, you willingly gave up your claim to the person you were before it happened.” ~ Jodi Picoult
5. “Romantic Love delivers us into the passionate arms of someone who will ultimately trigger the same frustrations we had with our parents, but for the best possible reason! Doing so brings our childhood wounds to the surface so they can be healed.” ~ Harville Hendrix
6. “As a matter of fact I had a terribly traumatic childhood. But afterward, I sort of reraised myself.” ~ Michael Gruber
7. “Strangers seem uncomfortable when you question them about their childhood. But really, what else are you going to talk about in line at the liquor store? Childhood trauma seems like the natural choice since it’s the reason why most of us are in line there to begin with.” ~ Jenny Lawson
8. “At some point people either had to throw off the wounds of their childhood or go through life permanently crippled.” ~ Susan Elizabeth Phillips
9. “One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn’t have to understand something to feel it. By the time the mind is able to comprehend what has happened, the wounds of the heart are already too deep.” ~ Carlos Ruiz Zafón
10. “We cannot have a world where everyone is a victim. ‘I’m this way because my father made me this way. I’m this way because my husband made me this way.’ Yes, we are indeed formed by traumas that happen to us. But you must take charge, you must take over, you are responsible.” ~ Camille Paglia
11. “What is required to face trauma is the ability to mourn, fully and deeply, all that has been taken from us. Only through mourning everything we have lost can we discover that we have in fact survived; that our spirits are indestructible.” ~ Aurora Levins Morales
12. “I am told many children block out the memory of trauma. In fact, the healing process can only truly begin when we are willing to remember.” ~ Phoebe Stone