Maybe you feel you had a “normal/happy” childhood, and maybe to some degree you did. However, the more women I work with, the more I see that women are especially keen on shaming themselves out of an opportunity to heal. They tell themselves that “it wasn’t that bad” or “I had a warm meal and a roof over my head.”
While all this may be true, on a physiological level, your brain and body do not differentiate between types of trauma or stressors you faced. We tend to categorize and score our own challenges as higher thinking intellects, but this becomes the reason why many never turn for support or help.
Do you know your ACE score? The Adverse Childhood Experiences, or “ACEs” quiz asks a series of 10 questions about common traumatic experiences that occur in early life. Research is finding that the higher your ACE score, the more likely you will struggle with challenges later in life. The factors that go into an ACE score range from neighborhood violence, physical abuse, and whether a family member suffered from mental illness, plus many more. Even simply being shamed or humiliated by a caregiver can affect your mental and physical health as an adult. Children whose parents die or who witness marital conflict are also more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, lung disease, diabetes, headaches, and even lupus.
Why do these ACEs have such an impact on your longterm health? Because childhood adversity forces your cells to prematurely age, eroding the protective caps that keep your DNA intact. Essentially, our bodies do not forget the past.
Note that the ACE score is just for reference, and not meant to be any type of diagnosis. It is a helpful tool for your personal awareness; one that can serve as a conduit in your healing journey. I believe it is important to also mention that the most common factor among children who show resilience is at least one stable and responsive relationship with a supportive adult. This may have been a teacher, coach, mentor or friend.
While you may have experienced challenges as a child, it doesn’t mean its too late for your to rebuild safety in both mind and body today. You are resilient, and capable of giving yourself the healing you have always been worthy of.