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  • Writer's pictureAbi Sims

Healing From Childhood Trauma: Finding Peace Without an Apology

Childhood trauma can leave scars that linger well into adulthood and affect our relationships, our thoughts, our beliefs, and our behavioral patterns. Many adults who have experienced childhood trauma are dealing with a myriad of emotions, including anger, sadness, guilt, and shame. The wounds inflicted during childhood impacts self-esteem, relationships, and overall mental health. Whether it's emotional neglect, physical abuse, or other forms of mistreatment in childhood, the impact is profound and long-lasting. In the journey of healing from childhood trauma, a common misconception is that an apology from parents is necessary in order to move on and heal.

But true healing is often a more nuanced and complex process; one that doesn't always hinge on external validation, acknowledgement, or acceptance from those who have caused the pain.

The Apology Myth

As humans, it's natural for us to want validation and acknowledgement from people who have hurt us, especially when it's our parents or primary caregivers. The idea of receiving an apology means that the person acknowledges their wrongdoing, they're taking accountability, and there's a possibility for reconciliation towards a healthier relationship.

However, the unfortunate reality is that not all perpetrators of childhood trauma are capable of offering a genuine apology. While some may be unaware of the harm they've caused, others may be unable or unwilling to take responsibility for their actions. In the majority of cases, it's because the parents themselves have experienced childhood trauma or difficulties in their own lives, which hinders their ability to empathize with their children's experiences.

If we're waiting for an apology that may never come, we're prolonging the healing process and keeping ourselves trapped in a cycle of resentment and pain. While an apology can be meaningful, validating, and healing, it is not the sole path to healing from childhood trauma.

Searching for Internal Validation

Healing from childhood trauma begins with shifting the focus inward and prioritizing self-validation. As attachment therapists at Root Counseling, we're constantly teaching and encouraging our clients living with complex trauma to reparent themselves, which looks like acknowledging the validity of your own experiences and emotions, regardless of whether others validate them or not. It's about reclaiming your own narrative and recognizing that your identity and worth are not defined by the actions of others.

Self-compassion plays an important role in this process. Complex trauma comes with a raging inner critic that's disguised as our voice, but is actually the voice of the perpetrator of our childhood trauma. Learning to silence the inner critic by treating yourself with kindness, understanding, and acceptance, especially in moments of vulnerability in pain, is a crucial step in the healing process. Practicing self-care activities, like mindfulness, journaling, and starting therapy, can help create a deeper sense of self-awareness and compassion.

It can also help to reframe the narrative surrounding the trauma. Instead of seeing yourself solely as a victim, take time to recognize your resilience and strength in overcoming adversity. This shift in perspective can create a sense of empowerment and autonomy in the healing journey, while also giving you the ability to reclaim agency over your life.

Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries is an essential aspect of self-care and healing from childhood trauma. Boundaries are about identifying and communicating your needs, limits, and values in relationships and interactions. Establishing healthy boundaries can help protect your emotional well-being and create space for healing to take place.

For some, setting boundaries might involve limiting or distancing themselves from toxic or triggering relationships, including those with family members. While it can be difficult to navigate limited contact or estrangement with parents, prioritizing your own mental and emotional health is of the upmost importance.

Cultivating Emotionally Safe Relationships

Healing from childhood trauma involves a lot of internal work, but it's also important to establish relationships with people who are emotionally safe. Surrounding yourself with friends, family members, or support groups who validate your experiences and provide empathy can foster a sense of belonging and connection. We can't heal in isolation.

Therapy can be a safe space to explore and process the impact of childhood trauma with a trained mental health professional. Therapists can offer guidance, validation, and coping strategies to navigate the complexities of healing. Additionally, support groups comprised of people who have experienced similar challenges can provide a sense of community and understanding.

Embracing the Journey of Healing

Healing is never linear; it's a journey characterized by ups and downs, setbacks, and breakthroughs. It requires patience, self-compassion, and a willingness to confront difficult memories and emotions.

Ultimately, true healing doesn't hinge on receiving an apology from those who have caused us pain. It's about reclaiming our power, embracing our resilience, and finding peace within ourselves. By prioritizing self-validation, setting boundaries, and creating emotionally safe relationships with others, it's possible to gradually transcend the wounds of the past and embark on a path of healing and transformation.

When we embrace the journey of healing, we empower ourselves. Through self-compassion, you can reclaim agency over your life and pave the way for a brighter, more fulfilling future -- regardless of whether you receive an apology from your parents.


At Root Counseling, we work from an attachment-based lens that prioritizes validation of childhood experiences, which aides in the healing process. To schedule a session with one of our therapists, you can visit us here.

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