A toxic childhood, by definition, is where a child grows up in an environment that negatively affects the child’s self-esteem and sense of belonging. It’s associated with how this child was treated, was he/she neglected, was he/she getting enough love and care, does he/she think that life is good and safe or complicated and scary.
If you feel like your childhood affected you as an adult and tampered with how you see yourself and the world then you’ll probably understand how hard it is to heal from a toxic childhood and erase false childhood messages that were unconsciously ingrained in you for years. Sometimes it feels like you’ll never heal from it because the triggers and the reminders never truly go away. They don’t just disappear from your mind, you don’t lose certain memories and you definitely can’t forget no matter how hard you try because every time you think it’s over, every time you think you’ve had your share of letting go and resolving those issues, they come crawling back to haunt you when you least expect them to.
Toxic childhood is usually a by-product of a toxic parent or toxic parents, parents who abuse their children or make fun of their dreams, parents who use guilt or money to control their children and withdraw their love and affection at the first sign of trouble, parents who do not try to understand their children or respect their boundaries but enforce their own way of living on them instead, parents who do not want their children to be independent and last but not least parents who instill fear rather than love and security so the child grows up to please the parent out of fear rather than conviction.
Healing from a toxic childhood is hard but not impossible, it’s hard because these behaviors tend to live within you making you question yourself and your choices and second-guessing everyone around you because the home that should have taught you how to live a healthy and well-balanced life ended up teaching you more about fear, anxiety, doubts and insecurities. However, there are still things you could do to heal your childhood issues and set boundaries with your toxic parents.
The most important step, in my opinion, is to mourn the loss of the relationship you wish you had with them, you will be constantly reminded of other stronger bonds between other parents and their children and a part of you will always wish you felt the same but as long as this is not your story, you have to stop imagining living someone else’s story. You were not meant to have this connection with your parents for a good reason and you have to make peace with this fact, against all odds, you have to make peace with your reality.
The second most important step is to remove yourself from them, if you can move out, then do it and if you can’t, you must detach yourself and set solid boundaries with them, you have the right to distance yourself from those who disrespect you or belittle you even if they’re your parents or relatives. The third step is to recognize that it’s not your fault, I know many toxic parents tend to point fingers and blame the children for their own shortcomings and failures, but it’s not your fault, do not fall for that vicious trap.
And last but not least, you have to spend a big portion of your life nurturing yourself, feeding yourself with the love and support you never got from your parents. Loving yourself in all the ways they didn’t know how. Surrounding yourself with people who make you happy and bring out the best in you and changing those fixed and stubborn thoughts that tell you that you’re not good enough. You’re going to spend a good portion of your adulthood refuting all the messages they instilled in you and nourishing your self-esteem.
I know it’s a process and not an easy one, but it’s crucial to your mental health and your well-being. Maybe your toxic childhood didn’t teach you much about love, security, peace and happiness but it taught you who you don’t want to be, how not to behave, what kind of spouse or parent you don’t want to become and sometimes that’s the best gift anyone can give you.