Growing up in a broken home can be a difficult experience to go through in life, especially if you are forced to at a young age. Those that have grown up in a broken home understand the difficulties and everyday challenges that you have faced in the past.As promised on my last post, I will be further expanding on the effects of growing up in a broken home.
These might be what we call “childhood traumas” as we grow and become more aware of them. Childhood traumas vary just as how people come from different backgrounds. What could be traumatic to someone, might not have the same impact but regardless, it is a trauma.
As someone who grew up in a broken home, I look for every opportunity to try and grow. I am on a journey of learning and unlearning, of pruning and purification. I will not lie, it is not pretty and there are times when I do not want to acknowledge my trauma, but my future self needs me to.
Here I will share with you a few effects both negative and positive, from research and from personal experience.
The effects of a broken home
Before someone gets offended, I am not justifying nor am I condoning bullying, but it has been know to be an outlet used by some children from broken homes. They could see it as a way of feeling superior and having a bit of control. Most bullies want to make their victims feel as small as they do. This does not only apply to children, but there are adults who are bullies as well. They want to intimidate or “humble” other people by being vile or violent. As the saying goes, hurt people, hurt people.
Writing this article has opened my eyes a bit more about forms of adult bullying. There are a lot but for now I will talk about one that surprised me. I discovered that being passive aggressive is a form of bullying 🤯. Ok, I will explain a bit about that. This is a less frequently mentioned form of bullying, but in some ways it’s the most insidious. With many bullies, you can see them coming because they are quick to make their intimidating presence known. A passive-aggressive or covert bully, however, behaves appropriately on the surface, but takes you down with subtlety.
Some examples of this type of behaviour will include, negative gossiping, negative joking at someone’s expense, sarcasm, condescending eye contact, facial expression or gestures, mimicking to ridicule, deliberately causing embarrassment and insecurity, the invisible treatment.
“Behind the smile, a hidden knife!” ―Ancient Chinese proverb describing passive-aggressive behaviour.
Another moment of 💡, was when I realised that we also become our own bullies. It feels like anything that we do, isn’t good enough for anyone. It always feels like there is something wrong with us. It becomes so persistent that over time, we begin to become our own self-critic. We become so self-aware so that others can’t.
And, with self critiquing comes anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. Sometimes, I am a victim of this crippling feeling. When the anxiety starts, there is this excessive worry I experience and my brain will be going a thousand miles an hour. Then, there is the overthinking, and flashbacks from past traumas lead to easy startling, changes my sleep pattern. I am sure you are a witness to a lot of people who are also crippled with anxiety. A times, a person will lose their confidence, become paranoid and anxiety betrays the person into thinking they are alone and are beyond help. Anxiety has ruined many relationships, people are not aware of what or how exactly things end up being messy, but the thoughts of fear coddled by anxiety cause people to withdraw or self sabotage. A behaviour that needs unlearning.
It’s become more and more difficult to remain vulnerable, trusting, and open to life in this era of uncertainty, divorce, and disrupted family life. I, for one have grown up with trust issues, together with 98.9% of the world’s population. It stemmed from my mother promising she would come back after a few months to not coming back at all. I had to trace it because I would find myself sabotaging relationships or friendships due to this. If we were hurt by our parents’ dishonesty, we may see other people from a skewed perspective and develop harsh, cynical attitudes toward them.
These self-protective defences help us preserve an illusion of strength and invulnerability, yet these same defences limit our capacity for trusting others and for finding fulfilment in a close relationship. You find that most children from a divorced household tend to run away from love and don’t yearn for romantic relationships. The main reason is because the individual does not trust people.
anger and depression
Growing up in an African home, I never knew anything about depression until I grew up. Depression is vaguely or never talked about in African homes. Not being able to express yourself or have someone to talk to can be very damaging. Being depressed is not only being sad and not wanting to be around people, it can be not eating much or overeating, it could be being all over the place emotionally or being extremely happy. Another effect a broken home is anger. It could be fuelled by the environment you grew up in or how you found that environment to be something you did not want. The anger can drive you to view life negatively and not be positive about life or the future at all. This is an emotion that is short lived but is very catastrophic. It can be used as a justifier , even though it is never a good thing.
Poor communication Skills
Being able to communicate effectively is perhaps the most important of all life skills. Coming from a broken home can deprive a lot from this skill. There are many families whose systematic way of functioning is to not speak about issues, emotions, and opinions. In such families when there is any sign of disagreement everyone “shuts down”. And, some will use sarcasm as a way of communication.
This kind of biting, satirical “but witty” language is clearly detrimental to effective communication. Sometimes there is not only obvious disdain, but also often an inability to converse normally.It could be you feeling ‘attacked’ whenever someone is trying to address an issue, or completely zoning out when someone is trying to communicate. I know of people in their 50’s who are still to learn how to communicate properly. Just like respect, communication is a two way street and it is usually the key to most uncomfortable conversations. These days I am now finding it is easier to talk things out than just keep quiet.
Another common effect of being from a broken home is low self esteem or lack of confidence. You feel inferior around others and at times you are not aware of it. You might also be timid and be easily intimidated by others. It could be fuelled by your need to keep the peace, so you never really challenge or give your opinion. This might get worse as you become an adult, you feel as if you are behind, not good enough and you compare yourself with others. A very dangerous territory to be in.
Those coming from a broken family we are often misunderstood. Judged as being different. Though it takes time, some of us have managed to prove that being in a broken family is a blessing, not a curse. Not all effects have to be depressing and sad.
Below are some of the positive effects.
As we get older, life assures us that things will get better and that we as humans matter. We have this inner desire of wanting to succeed in life because we want to have a better future rather than dwelling on the past. We want to succeed so that one day we can have a family of our very own and give them the life we never had as children.
Independent and Motivated
Using the negativity to push themselves to be better and stand tall. By channeling the disappointments and frustrations in their life, they give full potential to anything they are on. The only competition is themselves. Rising up even with the absence of help from anyone because they know their success depends on them alone and believing they can succeed with or without help.
People from a broken family know how to handle different kind of emotions like abandonment, guilt, unhappiness, anger and well, happiness. Experiencing this roller-coaster-kind-of-life enhances them to become strong. They believe even the hardest point of their life won’t knock them down.
I feel like this is just scratching the surface of the effects of a broken home. Feel free to leave a comment below about some effects I might have left out.
Until Next Time.