Can Adversity in Childhood Create Emotional Strength?

The same adversities you faced in your childhood home that led you to believe LIES about yourself also allowed you to develop skills and abilities that others don’t have.

These skills — or gifts — are inside each of you and are found by replacing the LIES you learned with the TRUTHS. And while the process of uncovering these gifts may differ from one person to the next, without question, similar patterns repeat again and again.

Two stories of strength and the uncovering of the TRUTHS

Take Roger, fitness personality and contributor to the book INVINCIBLE, and Kadian, a fellow fitness guru who, like Roger, also grew up facing adversity in her childhood home — specifically, they experienced CDV — childhood domestic violence. Their own pursuits of physical fitness led them to discover the gift of EMOTIONAL STRENGTH they each had gained from growing up living with domestic violence but hadn’t realized, leading them to happiness with family, fitness, and life.

Here they share their moving stories.

Roger Lockridge — After facing the obstacles I faced as a boy, what obstacles can compare now that I am a man?

When I walked into a gym for the first time back in 1999, I didn’t think about truths and lies when it came to me experiencing childhood domestic violence. I was a scrawny teenager who wanted to better myself and deal with all of this negative stress in my life in a positive way that didn’t hurt other people like I had been hurt. I also wanted to be in the magazines and on the websites like all the bodybuilders I looked up to. As I progressed and studied more about training and nutrition, I learned that people who dealt with abuse were also more likely to deal with negative health effects later in life. So, it turned out that I was actually doing more than just picking things up and putting them down. I was changing my future while dealing with my past.

An unintended quest to find the TRUTHS

Now that I am recognized as a writer on those websites and magazines I used to read and have been blessed to help others who experienced childhood domestic violence, I realize that I was on this unintentional quest towards a treasure chest that contained these gifts we now know as “The Truths.” This passion that I never connected to my childhood helped me with my successes in fitness, my commitment as a child advocate, and throughout my personal life with my family. Those are gains you don’t read about when you search for information on improving your fitness, but they are more important than any progress that can be measured on a scale or bar.

Kadian Mijic — How I found the TRUTHS of CONFIDENCE and PASSION after growing up with CDV.

My childhood was consumed with analyzing my mom’s every gesture, tone, or any other clue I could gather to predict how she would treat us. I was fearful of her and hyper-aware of the actions and feelings of those around me, trying to constantly act as a safety net for what could be a trigger to her. Although I was constantly on alert and always trying to predict her actions, I knew I never really had any actual control. I remember constantly closing my eyes and wondering when it would all be over.

I wear my outward strength as a symbol of my inner strength

Even into my adult years, I would constantly be very anxious and look for any signs of danger. Despite feeling like a pretty outgoing individual, I was haunted with an intense fear of failure. Never an athlete, fitness was an odd place to go for comfort. But I just remembered seeing a beautiful strength in these competitors that looked like it radiated from much deeper than their musculoskeletal system. It’s true, competitive physiques generally start far deeper than skin level. To be successful, you have to give up your fears. In the gym, I’m not afraid to fail at an exercise and often hope that I will! I’m not afraid to place poorly in a show because I know I have the power to try harder and change my body however I wish. I wear my outward strength as a symbol of my inner strength. People know when they see a fit physique that it took dedication, control, and strength to get there. Bodybuilding is all about rebuilding from the inside out after being chipped away and beaten down from the outside in.

From fearful to confident

Finding fitness was like finding my true self. I was building up the strong person inside and showing her on the outside after decades of damaging lies. Now, having control of my own life, I have structure and peace. Something about the strength and vulnerability of competitions makes me fearless in other areas of my life as well. Standing there on stage in front of hundreds of people with only a small bikini and heels… sets me free.

How you can find your own strength

Roger and Kadian discovered their emotional strength through physical fitness and along the way uncovered other gifts they had gained from growing up with adversities in their homes.

Though it worked for them, discovering your own unique and unintended gifts doesn’t have to involve going to the gym. But there is one common path for all of those who grew up with CDV and want to find happiness: Learning to control the meaning of your daily interactions, events, and thoughts. You, too, can then begin to replace the LIES with the TRUTHS, uncovering your own special strengths. You may be surprised at what you find.

Please share with us in the comments below how you’ve uncovered your own gifts. Did you find them through an unexpected pursuit?

Written by brianfmartin

Founder and CEO, The Childhood Domestic Violence Association Brian is a marketing entrepreneur and one of the 40 million adults in the US alive today who grew up living with domestic violence in their childhood home. He is also the author of the New York Times Bestseller, INVINCIBLE, executive producer of the award-winning documentary, The Children Next Door, and co-creator of the Emmy-nominated children’s program, Family Secrets: When Violence Hits Home.

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