The Adverse Childhood Experiences study reveals that as individuals answer “yes” to more of the 10 questions, high correlation with unwanted consequences occurs in many. Unhealthy lifestyle behavior, then serious illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease and finally, in many cases, early death can be the result. And yet, many people who are quite high functioning also have many “ACEs”. These folks ask, “how did I survive?” The fact is, humans are hard-wired for survival. Resilience factors cannot be left out of the picture when we speak of ACEs.
Resilience factors may include people, places, things, activities, pets and other things that helped you find ‘light’ during dark, traumatic times. Your “angels” may include a relative, teacher or friend that reflected your goodness back to you. In turn, you then had some contrast with the hurtful events and circumstances of your everyday life. You learned that the world could also be a safe and nurturing place; it wasn’t all bad.
These factors are sometimes called supports, resources or items on your gratitude list. In spite of the fear, anger and sadness you may have gained via abuse and neglect, you were able to finish school, work at a job, engage in relationship and find a life. However, in spite of these resilience factors, in adulthood you may find that you suffer from the effects of trauma. Shame, ambivalence in relationships, difficulty sleeping, and other after-effects of trauma may affect you. If so, contact me or a trauma-informed psychotherapist in your area. You can get beyond the after-effects of trauma and live a more carefree, fulfilled life.