Out of the Past: Pregnancy Can Re-Trigger Childhood Trauma

My heart is pounding. Palms sweating. Ears ringing. Feels like I’m having a full-on anxiety attack.

Tick-tock.  Shit, it’s not time yet. Forty-nine seconds to go. I glance in the mirror. I look pale, tired. Who am I? I am suppose to be happy, right? Any other 41 year old woman would be. What’s wrong with me? Maybe I really am crazy. Thoughts race at a break-neck speed through the corridors of my mind. I can barely breathe. OK, so what if I am pregnant? What if a life is growing inside of me? What then? It’ll be ok. I’m older, wiser. I’m in therapy after all. But wait, what if I possess the shitty mother gene – just like my own mini-mommy dearest. Or worse – what if deep down inside I really am a perp? An adult who secretly gets turned on by…F@#%%ck, STOP!

I am not that person. I am not a raging alcoholic! I’m not a monster. I am not my father.

This was Julie’s (not her real name) internal freak-out while waiting for her EPT results. As it turned out, two bright pink lines appeared on that stick and Julie was pregnant. She now has a gorgeous son. Two years later, Julie continues to be a great mom -patient, loving, nurturing. Nothing like either of her parents.

But Julie’s conflicting feelings about becoming a mom is not uncommon. As a matter of fact, it is all too common for adult survivors of any kind of childhood abuse. So much so that many women (and men) choose not to have a  child at all. Or if they do, often times they choose to wait until much later in life.

Their fear of becoming a perpetrator of abuse -just like their mother or father- is very real and very valid. However, fortunately, it is not based in fact.

Researchers report that the vast majority of victims of sexual abuse as children do not grow up to be offenders and that the “cycle of sexual abuse” does not fully explain why a person would molest children.  But the fear remains.

And the truth is, pregnancy and childbirth can reactivate or retrigger the childhood trauma we experienced. This does not mean you should not have a child.  It just means sexual abuse survivors have do to the work. As an expert, I see how important it is to do this work. Repairing and reparenting yourself isn’t always easy, but it is the only way you can truly heal. And healing begins (and ends) with becoming a good parent from the inside out!

Julie -and many other adult abuse survivors– may fear becoming a parent, but have done the work, reparenting themselves and are now able to embrace the challenges of parenthood!

I’m in your corner –


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