When you are growing up in a home that doesn't feel safe it feels normal to be afraid. I never knew that not everyone woke up with anxiety and their heart racing.
What will it be like today? Will my dad shout? Will he tell me off for not being enough? Will my mum be silent and just take it all? Or will she be escaping to work and then he can just lose his temper at us.
My dad was a volcano. You did not know what would cause him to erupt. Sometimes he would be kind and loving and other times he would swear at his kids and tell us what an inconvenience we were.
Growing up I didn't understand my dad had his own trauma from childhood which is why he was angry and abusive. I thought it was my fault for being a disappointment and if I was perfect then he would love me.
I didn't understand my mum had also had her own trauma which made her submissive and silent. She didn't say anything or protect us as she was afraid her self. We learnt how to take care of her instead and often she would also take her pain out on me when it all became too much.
All I knew unconsciously of course I had to survive this! So I came up with unconscious behaviours to survive this childhood which then went on to cause problems in my adult life!
1. Codependency and parentified
The unconscious belief became if I please these parents and be perfect then I can be safe. So I tried EVERYTHING. I did the subjects my dad wanted at school and got the career he wished for me. A 17 year career in Computers which I hated and carried on way after his suicide.
An open door would set his temper off so there I was closing every door. Every rule he had I tried so hard to keep to them but then there would be a new one!
I ignored every want and need I had to be the perfect daughter they both needed. My mum needed someone to stay so I didn't move out. This was to keep her safe and protect her.
She didn't have the partner she wished for so I would be that partner for her. Take her out, buy her gifts and be her safe place to share her pain.
I was even on track for an arranged marriage to please my parents and extended family!
I learnt from childhood to love everyone else but me. To put others wants and needs so much I didn't even know who I was. If I thought someone was upset with me then the anxiety felt dangerous in my body so I would just do whatever to make them ok.
I had no boundaries and many relationships took advantage of how much I gave. I was depressed , had no self esteem and felt like I was here for everyone else and the side act to other people's lives.
I hated the job I had to please my dad, I was exhausted from pleasing everyone but myself and I was resentful of the caretaking others.
I even felt suicidal from how I was treated at times so powerless to other people's words and behaviours because I couldn't say no!
This survival skill I learnt growing up was ruining my life because now I was in toxic relationships with more people than just my parents.
Relationships where I even tried to improve or get better they would react and demand I be there for them! Taking care of other people was an addiction to avoid myself.
2. Love addiction
I remember it started from a very young age like 7! I would lay awake at night feeling the fear in my little body. My mind full of disney and I would imagine my Prince coming to rescue me. Growing up from an Indian family the only acceptable way out was marriage apparently.
The little people pleaser in me imagined this handsome BROWN Prince coming to save me. I fantasised about it for decades. He was a Disney character at first then he became actors in shows I liked such as Dean Cain in superman!
Then he became men I knew. Unobtainable unavailable men. The popular boys that didn't notice me ! But eventually as I grew it wasn't fantasy anymore but I was pursuing men who needed fixing or were unavailable in someway.
I would become obsessed at the thought of them choosing me. I bought them lovely gifts , complimented them, would shower them in love and get very little in return.
I was chasing the fantasy of some one for many years. The man would change but the feeling would be the same. Rejection, pining and loneliness. I was very single for most my life caught in this trap of being addicted to the wrong guy.
I felt sorry for myself and like a victim especially as my friends settled down. Thinking it was bad luck that made my love life so shocking!
It wasn't it was childhood trauma which was making me addicted to men who felt like me dad. Unconsciously chasing his unavailable love long after his death.
The last man is what brought me to my healing journey when the despair of this man not choosing me brought me to rock bottom. I started to question my behaviour finally!
3. Emotionally eating
My best friend since I was a little girl was food! It was always there and always available. I remember sneaking out of bed in the middle of night finding ice cream and eating to soothe my pain.
I started to put fat on and everyone commented on my body. It was changing due to puberty and those were the first inappropriate comments about me turning into a women. It didn't feel safe to have boobs in all honesty as it seemed to provoke fear in my family.
The empathic people pleaser could sense this fear so unconsciously I ate more to soothe the comments and also to disappear. Soon enough the fat made my shape change and then I got even more comments about my body.
This is when the war began. I remember being as young as 10 dieting and working out. My parents were more than ok with it as I had got fat!
I started to lose weight and then I got a wave of compliments but because of what was going on at home I would break the diet each time I felt pain and go back to sugar.
This led to decades of yo yo dieting. I tried everything and would repeat the cycle if binge , diet and repeat! My weight always fluctuating , abusing my body with strict diets and aggressive exercise schedules. Trying to be perfect but never feeling like I was. That my body was broken as I was told as a child for so long time that something was wrong with my body. A belief which caused me a lot of pain and ruined my health!
4. Binge drinking
Growing up with alcoholic grandad and a dad who drank way too much meant I had this strained relationship with alcohol. I avoided it for as long as I could but in my 20s we found each other.
It helped me numb my self hate and my empathic abilities so I could be around social situations. I was super shy from the childhood I experienced and it helped me come out of my shell. It helped me be brave and speak to men!
I wasn't like my dad I didn't drink at home it was very much a social thing. It didn't seem like I problem as everyone was doing the same.
The only thing was the more my pain grew in my 30s the more I needed. It didn't make me sleepy like it made other people it made me want more.
I loved how it allow me to escape my body and stopped feeling and as much other addictions like codependency and love addiction got worse booze helped soothe the pain like food!
I tried to cut down and drink like everyone socially but soon realised that the alcoholic traits in my family were in me too. In a more subtle way as I was a binge drinker. But the amount I drank and the fact that I didn't know when to stop and blacked out often was enough for me to realise it was time for me to stop!
I love a good show! It helped me to escape my own car crash of a life. Soon after my dad's suicide before netflix I discovered boxsets in video and dvd format. When I felt sadness , grief or self hate I could get lost in another world. Often with some kind of romantic element so I was hitting that fantasy element whilst stuffing my face with sugar!
I did this for years when I was grieving anything to just escape my reality as I just wasn't happy with my life and I had no idea how to change it!
My dad was incredibly controlling so when I got my first job at 16 working in McDonald's he kept my money and gave me something like £5 week of my own money. It made me feel like I was untrustworthy around money.
So whatever I had I would spend and often get myself into debt. I was in a job that didn't use my creative skills but I loved fashion and actually worked for big retail companies like Top shop. So I would spend so much of my wages on clothes to look perfect and well put together! To please others and calm down the self hate.
But the new outfit would only have power to take that feeling away for the first wear and then the feelings of self hate were back. So I kept buying outfits!
My people pleasing increased my debts as I was always the one buying all of the drinks at the bar and then because I struggled to stop I would spend loads on a night out!
Always in debt or clearing debt was my pattern and at my lowest I discovered a psychic line that entertained my latest love addiction. They said this man would choose me. That never happened yet I spent £10000s on being told that one day he might!
It is safe to say childhood trauma got my life in a mess. At my lowest I was suicidal with £10000s in debt, drinking way too much, chasing a man who didn't love me, helping everyone but me, in a job I hated to please my dead father and dancing between fat and skinny my whole life!
This rock bottom saw me begin a journey of recovery from childhood trauma and all above addictions! I began to learn how to love myself, change behaviours that were hurting me, end toxic relationships including the one I had with myself and my vices.
I used the world of self help, coaching, therapy, books, podcast and even tiny buddha articles to learn how to change.
I helped my inner child to heal and my whole life changed. Am I 100% perfect no! But I am a work in progress who no longer drinks wine, people pleases and chases unavailable men.
I cleared all that debt, left my miserable career to help others with their childhood trauma. I no longer live in my mums box room. I married a wonderful man that makes me feel happy and safe who doesn't require fixing! He wasn't the brown husband my family wanted and I no longer feel like that is something to be afraid of.
I still have days I emotionally eat and watch a box set but it is a conscious decision now and I have a load of healthy tools available to me to help me to process my feelings. So I can step out of this old programming with ease.
I ended the cycle of trauma in my family and I feel peace and enough! Amazing things happen when you choose to heal.
It is possible for every child that grew up like I did unsafe. You may have struggled with behaviours like I did but this is you surviving is all.
It is not your fault you are survivor but you can choose to heal and thrive. You are worthy of finding your heart's happiness too.
If you want support to heal drop me an email at email@example.com. I am opening one to one coaching spots for 5 people from November 2023. Get in touch to discuss more over zoom
Sending lots of love and healing vibes always