Why Remembering Childhood Trauma Feels Different As An Adult

I’m going to take a wild guess that I’m not the only victim of narcissistic abuse who has experienced this kind of situation.  I’m hoping sharing it will help those of you who have similar experiences.


When I was in either seventh or eighth grade, I experienced the scare of my young life at that time.  My parents & I went to the grocery store one night.  While there, we ran into my friend, her parents & brother.  She & I went off to check out the makeup while our families shopped for groceries.  Shortly after we were separated, a very creepy guy started following us & trying to talk to us.  He scared us both badly.  Thankfully, we found my friend’s parents as we were trying to get away from the creepy guy, & she told her parents what happened.  Her father was a very big, imposing man, which worked nicely in our favor.  As Creepy Guy approached, her father put his arms around us both & told the guy to leave his daughters alone or else!  Creepy Guy left us alone.  My friends father told me to stay with them until we found my parents.  Upon finding my parents a few minutes later, he told my parents what happened.  I don’t remember if they even thanked him for protecting me.  We went to one cash register, my friend & her parents another.  Creepy Guy was outside the store at this point.  He was looking in the window at me, waving & smiling.  My father said & did nothing.  My mother continued putting groceries on the conveyor belt & said to just ignore the guy.  By the time we left the store, Creepy Guy was gone.  That was the end of the situation.  Neither of my parents asked if I was OK or showed any concern for how scared I had been.   I never thought about the incident again until I was around 40 years old.


When it came to mind one day, I was suddenly very shaken up.  This guy was just very creepy, I don’t know how else to describe him.  It was painfully obvious his motivations with my friend & I weren’t good.  Yet, my parents didn’t show an ounce of concern, not even after my friend’s parents told them what happened.  These were good, Christian people- they didn’t lie or even exaggerate!  Why wasn’t what they said taken seriously?!  If I had a child & this happened to her, I would’ve called the police & spoken with the store manager, not to mention, tried to comfort my child.


In considering this situation, I also realized that not only do my parents still shop at this same grocery store, my mother sent me there to do her shopping a few times before I moved out.  I didn’t feel any anxiety in that store during those times I visited it.  It’s only been as a middle aged woman that I feel horrible anxiety if I’m near that store.  Thankfully I don’t shop at that store or have any reason to go near it very often.


I was wondering recently why this is.  Why as a child, was I ok, but now, 30 years after the fact, even a quick trip through the parking lot sends me into a panic attack.  God showed me the answer.


As narcissists, these parents demand to be treated as gods, basically.  There is no room for anything except for their reality.  You aren’t allowed to have feelings, needs, etc. with a narcissistic parent because that makes you a “bother.”  All that exists with narcissistic parents is their reality, period, & anything to do with you isn’t important.  If you experience a trauma, they won’t care.  It’s not a big deal to them because it doesn’t affect them.  As a child, you accept their reality as your own.  When something traumatic or even simply painful happens, & your narcissistic parent(s) acts like it’s no big deal, you internalize that.  You accept it wasn’t a big deal & ignore your feelings.


Years later as an adult, you see things differently.  If you’ve learned about narcissistic abuse, you definitely see things differently than you did as a child.  You realize how messed up your narcissistic parent(s) is.  You see things differently than you once did.  You no longer blindly accept your parents’ reality but instead accept the real, reality only.  You may even have a child, & see things as a parent rather than only seeing them as an abused child.  You see things through more mature eyes plus with the influence of things you have learned & things you have healed from.  That is why if you look back at something from your childhood you hadn’t thought of in a long time at this point, you realize how messed up it was!  You see your parents lack of protection or concern, & instead of taking it in stride, you get angry or hurt.


When this happens, it can be hard at first.  When I first thought about Creepy Guy after all those years, I was angry & very hurt that my parents showed so little concern about a potentially very serious situation.  (I also wished I’d had the chance to thank my friend’s father for protecting me before he died, but that’s another issue).  I was also less than thrilled- yet one more thing to deal with from childhood.  UGH.  I realized something though that helped me.  I realized how far I’ve come.  I was so dysfunctional back then, I accepted that this possible rapist or murder being interested in my friend & I was no big deal.  Now, I see how sick it is my parents ignored the situation.  I realized that my view now is normal & that showed me how much healing I’ve done.  Definitely a good thing!!  So please keep that in mind if you go through this experience, Dear Reader.  Seeing things in a healthy way like I did is proof that you are healing, & that is a huge blessing!



Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

39 responses to “Why Remembering Childhood Trauma Feels Different As An Adult

  1. ibikenyc

    Thank you for this post.

    I’m so sorry this happened to you.

    I’m sitting here with my head spinning right now because I will be fifty-eight on Sunday (!) and have a trunkful of situations just like this, or I suspect I do, that I never once thought of in this way.

    When and, to me, MUCH more importantly, HOW, did I end up NOT EVEN EXPECTING help or protection or SOMEthing like that from the significant adults in my life?

    Very early on I understood that, if I asked for help in (short version) handling a dicey situation, all I would get was SCREAMED AT for having got myself into that situation in the first place:

    ” I TOLD you not to [thus-and-such]! What did you exPECT?????”

    My mother was, from an early age, the L-A-S-T person I told ANYthing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for posting this. I too had a creepy guy, who lived down the street. Although it only came into my memory a few years ago. A friend and I were walking down the street, when this man, stood in his side yard masturbating. Oh, it was terrifying. I remember telling my parents. I do not recall that anything happened from doing so. Funny how our minds only let out pieces of memory from living as an abused child.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I always felt alone and vulnerable as a child because I knew that, when push came to shove, my parents wouldn’t defend or protect me. But even though I knew this to be true the emotional impact of it didn’t reach me because I was always in survival mode and that meant stuffing my emotions into a place where they wouldn’t devastate me. But with no contact and my emergence from the fog of abuse I’ve been able to process those emotions in a healthy way. And I see my parents now for who they truly were: abusive, negligent, and completely selfish. I also see myself as a child who deserved parents who cared enough to protect me. I no longer make excuses for them or minimize the damage they did to me and my siblings. And I no longer carry the stigma of someone who didn’t deserve to be loved and protected, a stigma they put on me.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I wonder sometimes if narcissistic parents fail to protect us because they want us dead. If they lost a child the world would focus on them as the grieving parents. They’d no longer have to care and provide for us but they’d get to forever claim the victim status as a parent of a dead child. Maybe they’d even gain financially from our death. And if we survived a criminal attack of some kind just think of the narcissistic supply they’d gain by blaming us for what happened. Our death or injury could be the ultimate win-win for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder the very same thing. It’d really be a good thing for them in every possible way.

      Liked by 2 people

    • ibikenyc

      Oh, man.

      I keep trying to respond to you, and words keep failing me.

      This to me is one of those things where, when The Truth appears, it is UNMISTAKABLE.

      An — THE — extreme form of that particular sort of Munchausen so dear to the Narcissistic mother’s heart. Why bother making them go to high school in Manhattan every day with FIFTY-FIVE CENTS TO THEIR NAME (EXACTLY enough for school lunch), or with inadequate winter coats when, as you so perfectly put it:

      “If they lost a child the world would focus on them as the grieving parents. They’d no longer have to care and provide for us but they’d get to forever claim the victim status as a parent of a dead child.”

      (Even if that child HAD been OMG an “individual” with a mind of her own.)

      Ultimate win-win, indeed.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who thinks this. To non-survivors that idea might seem very farfetched. But for those of us who have lived through a childhood of neglect, malice, and abuse it’s a real possibility. I have only voiced that idea once before today, to someone who has been very, very supportive of me. Even she had a hard time accepting that they’d actually wish, or gain from, my death.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I totally understand. It’s hard enough for us to accept, even harder for “normal” people. I’ve thought for as long as I can remember if I died, my parents would be relieved in a way not to have to deal with me, but sad because I wouldn’t be there to be their supply (even before I realized what that word meant, I knew I met some sort of sick need). They would love the attention that they gained as grieving parents though. I have said this only a couple of times in my life because most people can’t wrap their minds around it.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Cindy

    My dad always said that kids think their parents get smarter as they get older.Perhaps in normal families they do,Seriously? I never felt that way.All it did for me was point out their flaws.
    My parents would have acted the same way as yours did in that situation…as if everyone was overreacting, and it was no big deal.Sad

    Liked by 2 people

  7. itstartswithme

    I’m recovering from the trauma of having parents that were unable to parent me and were not emotionally available. I appreciate reading your story. Thanks for sharing


  8. LWheeler

    Thanks for this article…as for me, in the past few years many memories are returning…one that was recently remember was being locked out of the house, in a fenced back yard with my sister, I was 31/2 and she was 11/2 and told she was tired of us coming in and out. I remember being terrified and crying at the glass door. As my adult self remembered this I knew I’d never do this to anyone let alone my daughter…when I shared with dear friends they were aghast…It validated for me this was not normal nurturing behavior.

    There so much to my story..as I grow healthier I see Gods hand of protection upon my life…


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