Childhood trauma is cumulative. You start out being traumatized by the original abuse. Then, each stage of life piles on more bad experiences. As a child, I couldn’t clear my head to think. This excerpt from Confessions of a Trauma Therapist describes my life in grade three:
“Grade three was the year the class was divided into two. Smart kids got to do grade four work, skipping a grade. Dumb kids sat in separate rows doing grade three stuff. I was held back with the dumb kids.
I dreaded telling my parents. Standing in front of them that evening, I looked for a way to soften the blow.
‘Well,’ I assured them, ‘I’m the smartest of the dumb bunnies.’
My father howled with laughter, doubled over, smoker’s cough erupting, breathless with the hilarity of it. That was the funniest thing he’d ever heard. Smartest of the dumb bunnies! Ha, ha, ha!
My mother shared his amusement, albeit less raucously.
As for me, I just slunk away, relieved they weren’t mad at me. Nobody ever asked me how I felt. I don’t remember my parents ever mentioning it again.
My friends went on with the smart kids and I stayed behind. By the time I got to high school, I was already older and feeling more sophisticated than my classmates especially the late-maturing boys. When I was sixteen, I tried to makeup for the lag by choosing an older boyfriend. His interest in me may have soothed one part of my battered ego, but the fact that I couldn’t say no to his sexual urges made me feel even worse about myself.”