Childhood Trauma: My Husband's Story



This post is done in partnership with StressHealth.org, an initiative of the Center for Youth Wellness, but the opinions expressed are my own.



Last month I shared about my own personal experience about growing up with toxic stress. But today I want to share my husband's story. Just as a reminder, toxic stress can result from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), such as abuse, neglect, or divorce. Without buffering from a compassionate adult, it can affect lifelong behavior and even have lasting and tragic consequences.

Growing up, my husband had a very dysfunctional household. His dad was a bad drinker and would beat his mom and also yell at all the kids. Because of his instability, his family moved around a lot. His dad had a bad temper so if he got upset at work, he would just quit, come home and tell everyone to pack what they could in the car. Then they would leave everything else behind and go somewhere new. This chaos forced them live in hotels, motels, and the projects; they were even homeless in the woods. My husband was always switching schools and never had a chance to date in high school or have friends. He became very antisocial and then as an adult, he started following the pattern of his father. He would move away quickly if someone offended him and just start over with the clothes on his back. After all the years of moving in his childhood, he had accepted this as normal.

When we first got married, even we started moving around a lot. In a year's time, we had already lived in more than five places. It took years for him to start getting rid of the baggage that his toxic stress had given him.

Now I am proud to say that our daughter has grown up in the same town for her whole life. We don't move anymore and even own a home. This didn't happen overnight for us though. But after countless talks and working on it together, he was able to free himself from this pattern. And our lives are better now because of it.

Toxic stress can happen at anytime during your childhood and linger on in adulthood.. When I first watched the video "The Load We Carry" from Stress Health, I immediately understood how my husband felt. In the video, a young boy is stuffing all the baggage from his bad childhood into the closet. And that's how so many of us treat our past, too. We bottle everything up inside until it has nowhere to go.





You can get rid of toxic stress, but it's not an overnight thing. It will take time. It happens little by little, but the more you can throw away, the better you will feel.

If you think you might be suffering from toxic stress, you can learn more about it and resources for healing at www.stresshealth.org.





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