You’re not an Old Soul, You’re Just Traumatized

Karina Lafayette – September 25th 2022

Photo by R.D. Smith

When I first started getting into spirituality, I identified strongly with the idea of being an old soul. Ever since I was a kid, people praised me for my strength and maturity, not realizing that I was just a child- I wasn’t supposed to be strong or mature. Teachers often spoke highly of me for being quiet in class, doing all my assignments and helping others. And yes, I was a teacher’s pet. Whenever I’d be at my grandmother’s, I would offer to help her with the chores and would be doing dishes and wiping down her fridge even though she insisted that she could do it.

While the adults around praised me, I was highly disconnected from kids my own age. Recess always felt like pulling teeth as I would stand there reading books and doing anything but engage in small talk or play games. It just seemed weird to me that anyone would want to do that. Although on a days where I felt a bit lonely, I’d hover near my friends, feigning interest in whatever fun they had going on, just to say I was a part of something. I didn’t understand jokes but always felt like everyone was making fun of me. At home, we were often struggling with money, which meant that I never knew what to ask Santa Claus, and I also did a good job at never asking for what I wanted either. For awhile, I always assumed that somehow I was better or “more enlightened” just because I didn’t see fun, interesting things as important, the way that other kids did. Instead of following trends, I listened to the same music and followed the same fashion grown-ups around me were into. Just the idea of listening to a pop song made me roll my eyes.

So you can bet when I first went down the rabbit hole of spirituality, I thought it was a good way to make sense of why my childhood unfolded the way it did, and considered being an “old soul” a badge of honor. When in reality, for awhile I was just using spirituality as a coping mechanism, because it was that much easier than accepting the fact I never got to be young and innocent like kids are supposed to be. My childhood shouldn’t have been revered, when what it really needed was protecting, and to be surrounded by adults who took their role seriously. One of the shortcomings of modern spirituality is that there is a tendency to want to rationalize everything that happens, so instead of admitting that life can be random, we use sayings like “everything happens for a reason” or “you attract your experience”. If people are told that what happened to them shouldn’t have, then they’re left wondering “why” and with a lifetime of therapy, PTSD and resentments.

The other reason why calling someone an old soul can be problematic, is it implies that some of us are better than others, or that our suffering was actually a good thing. In reality, everyone is an old soul, and we’re just here to see things from different perspectives.

Of course, that isn’t to say that some things don’t have a reason, but now at age thirty, I don’t think there was any purpose behind me growing up too fast, I just didn’t have a choice. The fact that I’m able to use the experience to empower myself is only because I chose to heal it, and not because the universe wanted me to suffer. This kind of reasoning just sets people up to take abuse lying down, instead of asking for better. One day, not long after leaving my mother, I told my therapist that I couldn’t imagine my childhood being different because I wanted to believe that it was the only way to become a kind and successful person, even though I’ve known plenty of people with normal childhoods who went on to do great things. The tricky thing is once you realize that you did deserve better, that’s when the anger comes in, and it really isn’t pretty.

At this point, this is where I had a long list of resentments and jealousy, because that suffering didn’t need to happen, it was really just a product of what I had been born into. No matter how much we try to rationalize what happened, it shouldn’t have happened at all, even if there is some divine plan.

Some of the ways I try to make up for a lost childhood are by indulging in plush toys, buying Happy Meals at McDonald’s, collecting anything and everything unicorn, butterfly, and pink and purple related, and learning not to take everything so seriously. And I listen to whatever music I want, whether it’s Bob Marley or The Spice Girls. I’m also better at setting boundaries, and only do things for others when I know I’m actually in the right position to do so, it’s the least I could do for the little girl that felt the need to be everyone’s caretaker. Beyond that, it’s very obvious to me that being raised a girl excused a lot of my past abuse. Girls aren’t expected to have as much fun and self-expression as boys are, hence why we assume that we naturally mature faster.

It’s understandable, with the way most of our bodies develop, we assume that once the period starts and we’re technically able to birth, that makes us an adult right away, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I got my first period around age 8 or 9, and the day it came, there wasn’t a magic wand that suddenly made me a grown up. Aside from cramps, I still felt like the same person, only my body was changing. The pressure we put on girls to grow up because they can, is not only harmful, it barely even begins to look at the damage we deal with later on, when we break down at the slightest inconvenience and regress emotionally back to childhood the minute we’re left unsupervised.

And probably the best part of all is that despite the challenges very clearly being visible in my planets, there is one key that lets me know the universe does want my happiness as much as I do; Because my North Node is in the fifth house. When someone has their North Node in the fifth house, their purpose is to explore the area of life associated with fun, pleasure and romance, and to develop their sense of identity. The reason I didn’t experience much of those themes early on is because my life was influenced by the eleventh house, which is associated with groups of people. Groups are good for many things, like starting projects, building communities, and giving us a sense of belonging, but what they are not good for is identity. Identity is built alone.

The North Node is generally referred to as our “true north”, because it’s an area of life we have to explore willingly. You can leave as many times as you like, but eventually you always go back to it, because it just makes sense. Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t obligated to actually reach it either, but if we do, we can be much more fulfilled. And that doesn’t mean you would abandon your South Node altogether, since after all, it does show where you came from, you just shouldn’t let it control you. It also doesn’t mean that if you missed out on a real childhood and have a different nodal position, that somehow you’re doomed to be unhappy either. I’d say look to your own fifth house sign to better develop your version of happiness, because anything is possible.

As an adult, I still struggle with relationships, because now that I found myself, I don’t want to share me with the wrong people. I like who I am, so much that it takes awhile to be sure someone can appreciate what I’ve created.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had lots of great experiences with groups, but the problem at times is people lose themselves in them, like fish in the sea. They get taken over by the tide and swim toward wherever everyone else is heading, even if it’s in the wrong direction. However, a beautiful thing happens once you find the courage to swim in a different direction, and learn to finally say, “I deserve better”.

Karina


If you enjoy this, you may also want to check out How to Follow Your True North in Seven Simple (and Complicated) Steps

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