I didn't just have a "bad" childhood - I had "no" childhood


I used to think that I just had a particularly bad childhood but I'm coming to realise that it just wasn't a childhood at all.

I was in survival mode throughout, left to fend for myself. There was no help, no support, no mentors, no play, no "being a kid".

I was a parentified "little adult" surviving on my own.

My family was a shitshow of abuse, neglect and mental illness who made my life so much harder in countless additional ways - as if surviving on my own wasn't hard enough, they were always there to add yet more additional burdens, hurdles, issues, problems, baggage, impossible expectations, gaslighting, conspiracy theories, insults, paranoia, threats, guilt-tripping, black-mailing, pressure, double-binds, worst-case scenarios, denial, power games, selfishness... on top of the abuse and neglect itself.

In my mind I used to try and "salvage" at least a few positive remnants that I had managed to cling to as a child but I'm starting to think it's a form of denial of how bad it really was and it's impeding me... By holding on to those pretend "good bits" I'm trying to stave off the full realisation of how dire and bleak it really was and that's keeping me stuck in a loop of not-letting-it-go and not-accepting-the-full-scale-of-it and not-taking-the-appropriate-consequences.

There was no childhood.

My mantra was always "Just make it to 18 then I can get out of here".

It was always just about surviving long enough so I could make my own choices and do trauma therapy.

It wasn't a childhood. It was just a bleak stretch of 18 years of trying to survive long enough to escape.
I feel you. I didn't have much of a childhood either. By the time I was 8 I was fully adult, making adult decisions, planning things in an adult way, looking after others as an adult would. Before that I took care of myself, prepared my own food as much as I could (by stealing), playing with myself, entertaining myself, cleaning myself, etc.

Everyone here does say that I was just a child but functionally, I was behaving in the position of an adult. It was wrong, but that is what I was doing. No longer was I a child. I became an instructor. And that meant training the actual kids who were 4-6 and much less coherent.

Unfortunately for me I did not even grasp on to the mantra of "escape at 18." I took the idea of escape as completely out of reach for me. I just considered that I'd continue to be associated with my family (organized crime, trafficking, etc) and to do what they say for the rest of my life.

It was a shock to my system at 16 to witness a shoot-out, participate in it, and then suddenly without warning realizing that this whole entire thing I was agreeing to be part of forever was wrong. I knew it was wrong, what I did to the kids. But I just pushed it out of my head. I was helping them survive but survive what?

I got some pretty intensive deprogramming therapy at that time but by then I was already most of the way to adulthood. It's no surprise to me that for the last few years all I've wanted to do and really been capable of doing tbqh is playing video games.

Try to have compassion for yourself and I'd encourage you to seek stuff out that you might have enjoyed doing as a kid, even if it is in a more adult-like manner. For me it's video games.