My journey through uncovering and overcoming my trauma – Part 2: The teenage years

by | May 31, 2024 | General Thoughts, Human Releationships, Mental Health

This article is part of a series where I write in detail about my complex post traumatic stress disorder, how I uncovered it and how I finally managed to overcome it. Find the previous part here:
https://galpalval.com/2024/05/26/my-journey-through-uncovering-and-overcoming-my-trauma-part-1-the-roots-of-trauma-in-childhood/

This chapter covers the major causes of my trauma in my teenage years.

When I finished elementary school, I still had hope. I was trying to convince myself, everything was gonna be different in middle school. There were gonna be new classmates, and I was hoping, I could leave my reputation as the strange outsider in elementary school. I was imagining how I was gonna make friends and just be a normal kid. Well I guess it won’t be a big surprise if I tell you that it didn’t work out like that. Pretty soon, I had the same reputation than I had had in elementary school. What was even worse, since I had pretty good grades without putting in any effort due to the way my brain worked, I had additional problems. It wasn’t until much later that I figured out, my brain just worked differently because of my neurodiversity. When I was a child I was convinced that I was just smarter than others my age, which definitely isn’t true. I was never smarter, my brain just worked different. I had a kind of eidetic memory (for background regarding that term, this is a good summary: https://www.simplypsychology.org/eidetic-memory-vs-photographic-memory.html ) which allowed me to memorize things needed for tests much easier than others.
On top of that, I became a “teacher’s pet” quickly, partly because of this trait, but probably much more because I never caused any trouble for teachers, because I always set silently on my place and knew most answers if called out by the teachers. But I was soon disliked by the “cool kids” and by the geeks as well. I just couldn’t find anyone to connect with.
Outside of school I started to spend more and more time in video games, where I could escape reality. I played story rich games where I could immerse myself into the world and think how it would be to live in these worlds. Wherever possible I played a female character of course, but I guess I didn’t know why I felt more connected to those than to male characters. Probably the “brainwash” my parents had given me in my early years had taken a hold in my mind. Of course playing video games felt good while I was doing it, but in the real world it only gave me more troubles. My parents and especially my 9 year older brother ridiculed me constantly for not being outside or playing “like a normal boy”. I don’t know what they expected from me, I guess I should have run around fighting with other kids or be interested in cars and motorcycles or some other stereotypes. The fact that I was rather alone, immersed in other worlds simply was beyond their comprehension. Of course, I still wasn’t loved by my family, and I never got a single hug or show of affection. Nor praise for good grades, they were expected of me. I can’t begin to describe how a whole childhood without ever feeling loved or even getting a hug or a “well done kid” by your parents felt like….
And then there was the football club. I still shiver with horror when I think back of that. My father had enrolled me in the youth team of a club from the highest league, so all the others there were pretty talented and dreamed of becoming professionals. And then there was me. Wildly untalented and unmotivated and – once more – not like the other kids. If school was bad with me being mobbed, football club was worse. I was constantly ridiculed and bickered on and frequently physically abused as well. But that wasn’t all. Even if it weren’t for the mobbing by the others, it was a humiliating experience form beginning to end. Every weekend there were matches against other clubs. And since I was so bad, for me that meant, spending my saturday afternoons sitting on the sideline watching others play a sport I was utterly untalented and uninterested in, waiting for the last 5 minutes, when the coach would substitute me in out of pity(or because he was obligated to, I don’t know). These matches were so humiliating, knowing full well nodoby wanted me there, nobody wanted me to play, but still I had to be “thankful for the possibility” and “show more motivation”
Yes, middle school years were pure hell for me, but I couldn’t confide in anyone, definitely not my parents, and I didn’t have friends anyway. What did change over the years though was, that I became better at surpressing my feelings constantly and pretending, I was ok.
Today I am convinced, those years are responsible for my severe c-ptsd, because back then I “learned” I was truly alone in the world and nobody would ever understand or love me. So I more and more lost hope, life would ever be anything else than this constant agony and over time I somehow lost my true identity and just became a soulless husk and put up a mask for everyone.
In the following highschool years I managed to increase my skills in pretemdimg in order to blend in and acted more the way society wanted me to. I started acting “cool” and tough, tried harder at football training, where I switched club to a local one where I actually managed to get some real playtime. I also started picking on geeks, as so many outsiders do. I figured if I’m not the easiest “prey” then I wouldn’t be picked on myself so much. Sad but true, but that actually worked. I became more and more accepted by the majority and so life started to become easier for me. By my graduation year, I had managed to be accepted as kind of an “average dude” and had no problems in school. I still connected to girls way better than to boys, but that was not a problem for my “fitting in” because it was seen as an act to get close to them in order to hit on them, when in reality, all I wanted was to be “one of the girls”, even if I wasn’t consciously aware of it back then. In hindsight I still wished, I knew about my identity back then. Even if I am catching up on a lot of teeny stuff in my second puberty, I still get sad about the fact, I couldn’t have a normal girl’s puberty. I wish I could have talked fashion and makeup with the girls in my class, but still, as I said, my highschool years were much better than my elementary or middle school years, albeit at the cost of sacrificing my true self to put up the mask of the “average dude”.
My family still managed to hurt me further though even through my highschool years. The highlight was my graduation ball. Here in Austria they are kind of an important deal and are always a big ballroom event. Well, can you guess whose of about 200 graduates were the only parents who didn’t attend? Yes, mine. They told me “ We don’t like these kinds of happenings, we’re sure you understand”. I can’t tell you how much that hurt me, even though I had shut off most of my emotions for years. But THAT still hurt. And so my highschool time ended with yet another big disappointment and rejection by my parents.

That’s all for today, as always, please give me any feedback, suggestions or critisism, don’t hesitate to get in contact with me.

(picture credit: kaybirddesigns by Nancy Walters. You can buy the picture from her on etsy: https://www.etsy.com/at/listing/776789431 )

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