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

Ecdysis

MyPTSD Pro
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.
 
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.
Same here. No childhood.
 
It’s pretty damn cool that you have such a strong core belief of what a childhood “should” be, that you believe you had none.

But?

You were a child.

So you had a childhood.

Where you were small, and powerless, and dependent on those full grown.

That THEY were assholes? Doesn’t mean you were not a child. You were.
 
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 just happened to stumble across this thread and it hit me like a truck. I've felt the same way years. I just didn't realize it until I was much older. I always thought something was wrong with me the entire time but that's not the case. You hit the nail on he head about salvaging the good parts. Especially true considering how scarce they were. It really didn't hit me until my son turned 7 years old. That's around the same age when I experienced abusive behavior from a step parent and didn't stop until I was a teen. I have no recollection of those happy birthday parties or childhood friendship because they didn't exist. When I was in school at that time, I felt so out of place because I would watch other people be happy except for myself. To this day I promised I would never allow any similar events happen to my son. He's 25 now and he is the world to me. I'm sorry someone had stolen those potential awesome memories from you that a child should always have. I'm 53 now and I still think about what was taken from me. Whatever you do, please don't do what I did and carry that burden for decades. Replace the years that you lost with memories of your kids, friends, and accomplishments. You can't forget the bad things entirely, but you can definitely make them seem smaller. I wish you well.
 
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