A very wise friend recently referenced an element of privilege I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about: The privilege of a happy childhood. She had evidently been lovingly corrected as to the existence of that in her OWN life by a friend who did not have a happy childhood. Just pointing out how that can give you good foundation to build on in life whereas the inverse creates a spiral of negativity that can spin out of control throughout a person’s life.
And man. Yeah. I can totally see that. Because – mental health issues aside – I had a happy childhood.
My Dad gave me a stable home that felt safe. My parents divorced but I don’t remember any real drama around that – maybe because I was so young. I don’t have memories of big fights or anything, so it just became my life in a very normal way. I lived with my Dad, saw my Mom every other weekend. No big deal. He gave me adventures in the woods and across the country. He supported my endeavors to play sports and to excel in school. He sent me to a school that nurtured my academic achievements and gave me religious support which – although I denounced it eventually – helped me through a lot of my mental health angst. I had plenty of friends who had birthday parties and sleepovers. I have a childhood full of memories of laughing so hard I wet my pants or snorted milk out my nose.
I don’t think my brain is capable of REALLY understanding the impact of a happy childhood and the positive ripples that created in my life. But I do – now – often think about the inverse. How a childhood filled with trauma or stress or worry can create negative ripples throughout someone’s life. It creates a lack of self-confidence and anxiety surrounding health and safety. There are studies that discuss scars of trauma both physically and emotionally and how it can create generational trauma because if you never heal from childhood trauma, you can unintentionally take it out on the next generation which perpetuates the effects.
This is one of those topics that I think really requires the utmost of empathy which – if you’re like me and you had a happy childhood – you might not be able to realize. Maybe I’ve been blessed to hear stories of childhood trauma and maybe my heart was open to really understanding those stories and that’s why I can see it, but it has made me more and more reflective on the privilege that simply a happy childhood was able to give me. And since it’s something I’ve been reflecting on a lot lately, I just thought I’d share it with you.
And if you did not have a happy childhood, my hope is that you are kind to yourself and find ways to heal those scars because they are real and made the hill you had to climb into adulthood much harder than my own. Love and light to you and to others like you.