The Write 31 Days Challenge – 31 Days,Every Day,One Topic
The last couple of days I’ve shared my tale of marriage, divorce, and being unfriended by the church, but that isn’t the beginning of who I am. Let’s take a step backwards to childhood.
First, here is a short and simple science lesson told from my non-scientific perspective:
We are our born with un-programmed brains and over time our brains develop their operating systems through experience. Various stimuli during childhood triggers responses in the brain, and if the brain is repeatedly triggered by the same stimuli the response becomes almost automatic. These auto responses are usually carried into adulthood.
There are two peak periods (up to the age of 2, and another surge during puberty) where experience becomes most central to a person’s expectations about their world. Thus, early learning lays the foundation for adult perceptions and responses.
Moving right along, I was raised in a good home environment. It wasn’t perfect by any means and, like all families, we had our “stuff,” but my parents loved me and that I never doubted. I was the baby of the family and a very quiet and happy child, or so I’m told. Early on I was given the label of Perfect Patti as my parents counted on me not to do some of the bad things my older siblings had done.
Of course that lasted until about two minutes into puberty!
Given my home environment I was surprised to learn, upon taking a test that measured post traumatic stress, that I scored extremely high in a couple of areas. Really? Post traumatic stress? One would expect a high score from someone who’d experienced extreme childhood trauma but me?
In my studies on this subject I read about two different types of traumatic experiences, categorized as “whacks” and “lacks.” “Whacks” are events of extreme impact such as rape, sexual abuse, slapping, derogatory names, etc., while “lacks” are small wounds like silence, neglect, lack of support, and rejection. “Lacks” experienced over and over often take as great a toll as the “whacks”.
I had to admit that there were definitely events in my childhood that negatively affected me, both at home and outside the home. There were a few “whacks” and a whole lot of little “lacks.” The worst during my teenage years.
It is said that people will treat you the way you expect them to. I’m not sure if this is true but maybe people could tell that I didn’t value myself and treated me accordingly when, as a teenager I became a target for bullies at school.
- In 7th grade I was jumped and beaten up by a group of kids on Halloween when I wouldn’t give them my bag of Halloween candy (I never said I wasn’t stubborn).
- In 8th grade there were the girls that trapped me into saying something that would give them an excuse to beat me up. The authorities were brought in and I was given a ten minute early dismissal from school for the rest of the year so I could get a head start and run home before they could reach me (we moved to the ‘burbs at the end of that school year).
- In High School the bullies found me again. This time they gave me a name. A derogatory name that became known to the whole school and I couldn’t walk down the hallway without hearing it. More on that in a later chapter.
High School was the worst! Every day I felt humiliated and ashamed. I had no real friends at this school so I was very alone. When I tried to share what was happening at school with my mom she told me it was my fault. So I took to skipping school as often as I could get away with it to avoid the pain.
And this was when I first made the inner vow:
I will NEVER let anyone know that they have the power to hurt me. Click To Tweet
So my childhood label changed from “Perfect Patti” (because a Patti who is perfect measures up) to Patti with the bad name, and in response I began to act bad. In ways that I never would’ve imagined for myself.
Did you know that recent studies of the brain’s neuroplasticity have shown us that we don’t have to stay stuck in unhealthy expectations for ourselves and unhealthy responses to life events. Brand new neural pathways can be created!
But God knew about the ability of the brain to be transformed all along. He even told us in Romans 12:2 that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. So cool!
Have you ever had stones thrown at you? God can help you pick up that pile of stones and use them to begin building a strong foundation for your future. It took a lot of time and a lot of healing for God to renew my mind but He did. And every bad thing I ever experienced eventually became a blessing.
We’ll get to that part later in my story so read on and see 😉 Tomorrow will be Day 6, Stones of Remembrance.
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