It’s funny how life confirms your beliefs, and as attitudes change, so do the people you meet. Five years ago it seemed obvious that the mood instability and chronic melancholy I suffered directly resulted from the trauma of my past. Over and over I met others from devastating childhoods who seemed to grapple with the same emotional issues: high sensitivity, easy sadness, chaotic relationships, erratic performance, and so on.
Every time I heard of another disastrous upbringing from someone who seemed to struggle just like me, it confirmed my belief that childhood trauma had wrecked me.
These days, I’m less sure. Several times recently I’ve spoken with others who suffer from similar mood issues and sadness, but whose childhoods were not as glaringly awful as mine. Intact families, superficially normal parents, and safe homes seem to be no guarantee against adult angst. Of course, the underlying theme in these cases betrays a more subtle dysfunction: the lack of genuine trust and selfless love. Overbearing mothers, stern fathers, resentful parents, capricious decisions, and chronic stress can all feed into later problems.