Childhood: Its Effect on the Psyche

  Terrifying circumstances surround your childhood.  Unspeakable acts of abuse mar the memories.  As you dismiss these plaguing thoughts as immature manifestations, your dreams populate with flashbacks.  Decisions of today emit traces of past woundings.  Who hurt you?


Many of us struggle with the past.  Some of us partition our brains into strategic file folders. By this action, we can pretend the hurtful events only existed in another person’s memory.  As if we were the reader of someone else’s mind, we read those memories like a novel about another unfortunate soul.


Videographic images play through the mind like an uninvited horror film distorting reality to a naïve child.  In essence, we are all still children.  No matter how successful our peers believe us to be, we all have demons sinking their claws into our impressionable minds.  Our current actions are premised upon past lurid occurrences of younger years.  Instead of rationally acting, we react with fear or anger. Lashing out to spouses and friends, we are prone to wound others.  In reality, we ourselves are the tormented souls.


One mechanism I implemented subconsciously was the erecting of “my wall.”  Several of you may recognize this false sense of protection in your own lives.  Exposed to adult problems as an 8-year-old, I learned how to compartmentalize my brain.  By sectioning parts of myself into neat categories, I could unlock each file at will.  If I decided I never wanted to experience the monsters locked in that folder, I shoved it to the back of my internal filing cabinet.  Using only the likable parts of myself, I delayed dealing with dubious issues for several years.  Does this sound familiar?


Eight days prior to my 12th birthday, my daddy passed away from cancer of the lymph nodes.  At least, that is the story I told all my friends.  The truth is that my father died of HIV due to AIDS.  Cancer was only its manifestation.  You see: my dad was a bisexual.  Painful tears still well my eyes at the memory.  A prime example of my wall-building, I avoided dealing with the issue of my father’s death for 5 years.  Embarrassed by what my friends or respected adults would think about me if they knew, I lived each day safely behind a façade, an image I created of my father.  This wall protected me from invading inquiries or questioning cliques of cool kids.  


As a teenager, I decided to confront this first wall.  For several months, I cried myself to sleep nightly.  Admitting to myself that my daddy disappointed me in his betrayal of my childhood perceptions, I plunged into the well of reality acceptance.  A series of actions on my part quenched the monsters in this file folder of my memory.  I wrote songs about my feelings.  Letters to my dad expressing all my emotions were buried at his grave.  Poems capturing my thoughts in rhythmic meter addressed his positive and negative traits.  In time, I discovered how to fashion my psychological wounds into sympathetic understanding of other wounded children.  Instead of being a victim to my childhood, I emerged a victor.


Many more walls were to collapse throughout my young adult years.  These walls built for protection were actually barriers to the true self within my breast.  Make no mistake that childhood events affect the psyche significantly.  If we could wipe the slate clear of all the hurt, too many would erase the very circumstances that fashioned us.


How has your psyche been affected by your childhood?  What walls have you unknowingly built for self-preservation’s sake?  I realize that you may reply rhetorically, but DO answer those questions.  


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