20 People Who Only Realised As Adults How Messed Up Their Childhood Was

Published 11 months ago

The way we perceive what is happening around us has significantly changed over the years. As kids, we were significantly less perceptive and aware of the meaning of certain things happening around us. 

One Reddit discussion proved as such when one netizen asked community members to share childhood experiences that they only later realised were in fact life-changing, disturbing or traumatising. 

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Our babysitter died while she was watching us when my twin and I were 3. We had no concept of death, and tried to wake her up.

She had spilled water when she fell, and I still remember getting a dish towel to wipe it up, thinking she would be proud of how responsible I was being.

I remember going to get our little toy pots and pans to bang together to make noise to wake her up, we had no idea what a heart attack was.

Image source: Mushrooming247, Caleb Woods


Having a ‘cluttered house’ and needing to spend a few hours carrying everything from the living room into my bedroom to make the living room appropriate for guests. I would sob and beg for it not to go into my room because I knew it would never leave, and the living room would get filled again with TJmaxx bags and garbage we don’t need. Turned out a hoarded house isn’t normal and it made me a pretty awful roommate to my friends in my teen years.

Image source: plantsndogs, Şahin Sezer Dinçer


My half sister tried to drown me twice when I was little. It took me into my late teens to trust women again and still have a phobia of water deeper then 2ft. No, my parents didnt try to help. She waited till those little lapses of being watched.

Image source: nxnphatdaddy, Tim Marshall


When I was a toddler, we lived in rural Texas. My mom put me down for a nap in my crib one afternoon, and went to take a nap herself. Apparently she told my older brothers to keep an eye on me, and since they thought I was asleep in my crib they all put a movie on in the living room. I couldn’t sleep, and somehow got the idea in my head that I wanted to go get the mail. I walked past my brothers watching their movie and right out the front door, and then walked about a hundred yards down our gravel driveway to our mailbox on the edge of a county road. Just about everyone had outdoor dogs in the area, and let them roam freely. Some were friendly, and many were not. There was a particularly giant Weimaraner named Buckwheat that belonged to a neighbor who met me about halfway down my driveway to walk with me. Apparently when I got to the county road where our mailbox was, he got on the “street” side of me and stood and blocked me to the curb as several cars/farm trucks whizzed past. A man returning from work saw me out there by myself with a huge dog and pulled over. He said when he got close, the dog got defensive and started pushing me away from the road again as his car approached. The man pulled up and asked me where I lived, and offered to give me a ride home. I didn’t know not to get in the car with strangers but thankfully in this case it was a good guy. He knocked on the door of my house and woke my mom up from her nap. Told her that he had found me barefoot in the road, where I had a dog guardian angel that was actively protecting me from traffic, and it was thanks to that dog that I was still alive. Here’s to you, Buckwheat.

Image source: ClickyMcFasterson, Carlos Jairo


The teacher not letting me use the toilets in elementary school and peeing my pants under the desk, than getting yelled at by same teacher

Image source: drpepper1992, Feliphe Schiarolli


My mom used to whoop my a*s really bad whenever i did the slightest thing wrong. I was genuinely afraid of doing literally anything.

As a kid i didn’t like taking baths because my mom wouldn’t stop telling me everytime that i stank and that i was a pig, that i was reeking of c**t and that i was completely gross and unhygienic, and also because the shower was too loud for me. I thought i would drown: the sound was too overwhelming in my ears when i had to wash my hair, so i was crying really bad, telling my mom that she was going to drown me. She slapped my mouth so i could shut up and stop moving, but she slapped me so hard that my mouth was bleeding. I couldn’t do anything more besides bowing down my head, crying in silence as i was internally panicking because of the sound of water, while seeing my blood flowing through the shower drain.

It was so normal for me to be beaten up and also the typical “wait till we get home and you’ll see” and getting beat the s**t out of me for talking when i shouldn’t, that it was really weird for me when i’d go to friend’s houses and seeing their moms talking to them with respect and not slapping them.

“Huh? Her mom doesn’t… slap her or scream at her? Why? Is it because i’m here? My mom also slaps me in secret so if If i’m not here she will definitely slap her, yeah”

My father was more gentle but they were divorced and would visit us once every couple of weeks. I would call him and he was soo gentle and caring at washing my hair, like he was afraid of hurting me if he used more force, on contrary of my mom.

Image source: Yam1sa, Ron Lach


It wasn’t so much horrible but reality of growing up without much money. In elementary school I was breezing straight A’s high honor roll. Would get rewarded with a toy for my report cards. I didn’t want flashy toys like video game systems or ask for a new video game. Back then it was like a $5 wrestling action figure.

In middle school my attention focused on girls lol. So I went from toys to wanting to wear nice new clothes (always wore hand me downs and never cared much but in middle school years you I guess want to establish your own style identity). My dad was only income in household. Worked his plant job and was supporting a 7 person household as mom was just a housewife. He wasn’t a big money engineer or anything just one of the worker bees.

Well 11 year old me got straight A’s and instead of going to the mall as a reward or a new toy, I told my mom I wanted new clothes. New name brand Clothes were obviously way more expensive. My mom told me we would try next report card to get new clothes. Well obviously 11 year old me was not thrilled about that. So I guess I stupidly said “if you guys don’t buy me new clothes I won’t make straight a’s anymore”. My dad was in the kitchen eating an early dinner after he got off a long shift. Didn’t say anything. The next day after school I got home. My dad came home from work usually aj hour later. He switched his work clothes to put on his casual clothes and I said where are you going he said get dressed were gonna go to Belk to buy you an outfit. They put it on the credit card even though we probably coudlnt afford it. When I got home later that night my sister a few years older than me (whom I shared a room with) kinda chewed me out and lectured me on how I threatened my parents to not doing my job in school if I didn’t get clothes, when our family was already struggling for money.

That little life lesson really made 11 y.o. me sit back and think about what I said. Made me think about all the times my dad came home looking tired but never complained and just kept going to work the next day. And literally from that point on I never asked for any reward, any compensation or allowance for anything. Never told my sister how thankful that lesson in humility was for me. I will one day. Helped me appreciate the smaller things and what we already have. Less materialistic and more experiences.

Image source: JeffTennis


I was 4 years old and my nighttime routine was always telling my mom and dad how much I loved them. One night, I couldn’t find my mom to tell her goodnight. I searched everywhere in the house, backyard, etc. Finally, 4-year-old me goes out the front door, looks around, and sees a person standing in the middle of a crowded street with cars zooming by and swerving around them. I started walking down the sidewalk to get a better look because I thought it was the weirdest thing. Turns out it was my mom, but what was weird was that she wasn’t answering to my calls. I started getting really scared because my mom was blind (and had only gone blind in the past several months). I ran back to the house and got dad because I was too afraid to go in the street to get her. Wasn’t until many years later that I realized I had witnessed my mom attempting s****ide via getting hit by a car. She was severely depressed due to having gone blind at the age of 34 with two small kids. Makes me sad to think about it sometimes. She’s better now, but still unfortunately blind.

Image source: hybridginger, Alexey Demidov


My father urinated on my head once. I was outside and he was on the porch 2 stories up. It was dismissed as “he thought it was my mother.” Like that would have somehow made it okay.

Image source: cogmanroad, Nicola Barts


I was brought up in a cult

Image source: Nanoid321, Rosie Sun


Getting almost no guidance. It felt like freedom when I was a kid, but once I left home I realized it left me very unprepared to face the real world.

Image source: DeathSpiral321, Zhivko Minkov


Adopted, stepdad punished me by forcing me to watch them shoot my dog. I was told he was going to do it about 10 hours beforehand and he made me dig a hole out in our pasture. Evening comes and he drags her out there, absolutely oblivious as to what is going to happen. He threatened to shoot me when I refused to go out there with him, so what could I do? I tried looking away but he told me I’d have to watch or I’d get it too. So he held his rifle up to her head and pulled the trigger once, then a second time after she hit the ground. I then spent the next hour pulling her body into the hole I had dug and buried her. She was a great Dane, just over a year old. I was 11. My parents got the dog but then passed the responsibility of her onto me because they were “too busy” to take care of her. I’m 17 now but that s**t still f***s me up. I got outta there a few years ago and was shocked that nobody else could relate to what I went through. Edit: This all occurred about 6 years ago. I appreciate the kind comments I have received. I always thought it was my fault and that I should have done differently. I do not live with them, or near them, anymore. I live with my grandparents who are disgusted by how I was treated.

Image source: TiggerOnA, Paparazzi Ratzfatzzi


My mom would frequently have backyard “camping adventure nights” or “spooky nights” where we would tell scary stories in the dark. I realize now that this was because we were so in debt that not having electricity was a frequent occurrence.

Image source: AsteriusNeon, Uriel Mont


In 4th grade a bunch of 6th graders, after torturing it, threw a cat from high up and it landed right in front of me and died. I was never quite the same since then and it took until early adulthood to realize certain aspects about myself are because of that event.

Image source: LaughingIsAwesome, Darwis Alwan


My mom once highlighted my report card and wrote “this is what failure looks like” and put it on the fridge because I got a C

Image source: MinimalistHomestead, cottonbro studio


An assistant football coach used to bully me a lot during practice (6th grade). One day, I looked right at him and told him to “shut up.” He was so offended that a child said that to him that he just decked me, full force. I lost consciousness and came-to on my back staring up at the sun. I never told anyone about it and now, in my 30s, I replay this event very frequently…it causes me great anxiety.

Image source: creativelystifled, Kampus Production


What my mum meant when she planned to drive us to heaven. She was talking about wanting to drive us into a lake.

Image source: oO_ICE_Oo, Uriel Mont


Both of my parents were too burned out from their own childhood trauma to be functional and loving parents. For the most part they did their best to provide for me and my siblings….. But there is no love in my development. I am incapable of forming meaningful human attachments.

Edit. Thanks for all the interest everybody. It helps to know we’re not alone in this. You’ve given me some great suggestions and stoked my interest in continuing therapy. Let’s all be part of the solution and love our children the way we should have been. Good luck my friends!!!!!

Image source: Michael-VURSE, Sofia Alejandra


My mother has borderline personality. Everything was horrible. As a kid, you think it’s totally normal. When you reflect on your childhood as an adult, you realize it was child a**se.

Image source: likeistoleyourbike, cottonbro studio


When I was 7 years old I was outside playing with my friends. An older boy who was a bully in the neighborhood walked by and started saying racist things to them. The boy and I are white and my friends are black. I didn’t understand what he was saying was racist and to be honest at the time I didn’t even fully understand the concept of race. I didn’t think of my friends as any different from me. I did know that he was making them upset so I told him to leave them alone. He called me a “wannabe” and a “n***** lover” I had never heard the n word before but I knew I was being insulted. There happened to be a big stick lying next to me on the ground so I picked it up and whacked him across the face with it. He started crying and ran to his house. I went back to playing with my friends like it was nothing.

About 20 minutes later the boys came back with his uncle. The uncle called me over and told me I needed to be put in my place. He then made me stand there while the boy slapped me across my face. He told him to do it harder again and again. The uncle was really angry that I wasn’t crying. I really wanted to, because it did hurt but was always told to never cry in front of the person who made you cry. Anyway, I’m not sure how long this went on for. At some point the boy started asking his uncle if he could stop. The uncle said fine and told me that if I had more white friends I would become a nicer girl that knew how to act.

I never told anyone and kind of felt like maybe I deserved it for hitting the boy with a stick. And it wasn’t until I was much older that I understood everything that happened.

Image source: desilyn89

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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childhood, childhood trauma, memories, people, trauma, traumatic childhood experience
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