Trauma is unlike anything else in the world, causing us to act in ways we never would have dreamed of before. It can shape us and change us into a person we no longer recognize.

The strangest thing about trauma is that it affects us in a myriad of ways. When you look at the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) it becomes clear that the effects of trauma can mimic a variety of disorders and bad behaviors. While many may misperceive you and think you are a bad person or someone tainted or toxic, in reality, if you have been traumatized, it’s far more likely that you are still healing from your trauma.

Now, to be clear, these signs are more so an explanation, not an excuse. If you recognize you are acting in ways that do not serve you or the ones you love, then you are also recognizing that there is more work to be done on your healing journey. Acknowledge that, and begin taking the steps to find healing.

Here are 8 signs you aren’t a bad person, it’s just your trauma.

1. You have major anger outbursts.

The slightest thing can send you over the edge into a screaming fit. Small things agitate you, and when you get upset, you find it hard to bring yourself back down to the center. While a lot of people may misunderstand this, viewing you as an angry person, you aren’t. Trauma affects our central nervous system, which ultimately can deregulate our emotional states. It can take therapy and even medication to move through this period of PTSD.

2. You don’t trust others easily.

After being severely traumatized, you no longer view the world through rose-colored glasses. Now, everyone you meet is a potentially bad person, until they prove themselves otherwise. It can be especially hard to trust if your trauma can be sourced back to someone that you trusted wholeheartedly.

3. You are extremely guarded.

You always have your guard up and keep people at a distance. You have a hard time genuinely connecting with others because that requires you to be vulnerable, which is something you struggle with. A lot of people who try to get close to you might get upset about this, when in reality, they don’t understand that you want to get close to them, you are simply learning how to again.

4. You socially withdraw sometimes.

From time to time, you find it necessary to pull back from everyone. It isn’t because you don’t love them or don’t want to be around them but instead is because you are completely emotionally and physically exhausted. Some might take this the wrong way, but if they had been down the same road you have, they would understand.

5. You sabotage your relationships.

Things can be going great in a relationship, but because you have a hard time trusting in that, any and everything can be a sign that things are going to go south. So, instead of allowing that to happen, you find yourself sabotaging things by either getting too clingy or getting too distant. There’s no in-between for you.

6. You are emotionally unstable.

Your emotions and moods change quickly and with little to trigger you. Sometimes, you might be happy in one moment, sad a few minutes later, and then anxious not long after that. When you feel emotions, they are intense. They aren’t within your control, and it causes problems in your social life.

7. You are always looking for the other shoe to drop.

No matter how good things may get in your life, you are always waiting for something to go wrong. Because the worst of the worst has already happened, you know that something bad could happen at any time. To try to circumvent it or to protect yourself, you are always on edge.

8. You have substance abuse problems.

You tend to sink into your addictions to cope. For some, this might be alcohol or hard drugs. But in other cases, it can also be binge-eating, gambling, sex, love, or adrenaline addictions that are clung to. This is oftentimes the case with victims of trauma because addictions provide momentary satisfaction and an escape. However, ultimately, with victims of trauma, certain addictions can only snowball and make the original trauma much worse.

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