20 Signs You Grew Up With a Miserable Childhood

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There are at least 20 signs you grew up with a miserable childhood when you show certain symptoms. Thanks to therapy, people can recover.

They are perfectionists 

woman leaning on white table

The first thing to note is that not all individuals who had a miserable childhood will turn out the same. But perfectionism is warranted since it allows people to control the landscape of their lives, something they could not do as children.

They are extremely independent

woman drinking on white cup

Life taught these people that they had to take care of themselves early on. This means they don’t enjoy asking for help and probably won’t, even if there’s no other choice.

They’re not great with emotional intimacy

man sitting on brown bench

Kids who have experienced a great deal of struggle growing up will tend to keep people at a distance. Getting too close is a red flag in their eyes, and it’s not going to be easy if it happens at all.

They are hypervigilant to a fault. 

a blurry photo of a woman with glasses

Have you heard the term “head on a swivel”? People who have had a rough childhood are always waiting for the next shoe to drop. It takes a lot of time for this quality to lessen if it ever does.

Their self-esteem isn’t always that strong

woman in black knit sweater covering her face with her hand

If you’ve spent a lifetime with neglect or abuse then you’ll understand why some people don’t think highly of themselves. It’s tough to get past the negative messages they were given throughout their lives.

They feel a great deal of responsibility 

grayscale photo of man and woman posing

This comes from feeling as though they need to put everything on their shoulders to make anything work. No one showed them that teamwork is necessary in life. Plus, the necessity of growing up too fast strips many people of that carefree childhood that many take for granted.

They’re very observant

a couple of men sitting at a table with laptops

This is a survival trait of those who have suffered neglect. They need to keep their eyes and ears open at all times to avoid any pitfalls that might come. But it does mean they focus too heavily on issues and not the good times.

Routine is important

white book

With little to no true stability in their lives, many people stick close to routines as they grow older as a means of control. When you’ve never had it, a lot of people will cling to it to make sense of things.

They enjoy their solitude 

human walking on snow covered mountain

This is something many people understand since whether you had a miserable childhood or not, solitude is enjoyable now and then. But for those who use it as solace, it’s about recharging their emotional batteries.

They are quite creative

a painting of a woman's face with green eyes

Adversity often creates a need for creativity as a way to escape or make sense of the world around a person. Comedians, actors, and writers can attest to this without fail.

They’re old souls

woman in black and white dress sitting on concrete stairs

It’s not a case of reincarnation as some might think. It’s the fact that these people grow up too soon and have to mature in ways that many kids do not. That level of maturity at a young age does things to people

They show awkwardness in relationships

man and woman standing on rooftop of building during daytime

When there’s no strong family dynamic around to teach a child how warmth and affection work, the lack can affect them later on. They’re not bad at making other people happy, but accepting praise and love is exceedingly difficult.

They do have a strong sense of justice 

woman in dress holding sword figurine

They know what it feels like to be the underdog. This is why, if they’re lucky, these folks can learn to stand up for themselves and others.

Overly critical of themselves

mindfulness printed paper near window

Nothing they ever do will be good enough in their eyes. Even with the praise of others they care about, it probably isn’t enough.

Fear of being judged

man wearing white top using MacBook

Several people will continue to hear the voices of those who put them down in the past every time they try to succeed. Those phantom voices will keep them down because they have learned to follow those words.

Emotionally withdrawn

man in white shirt holding white and blue polka dot textile

It’s not just that they’re awkward all the time, it’s the fact that they feel safer when they’re not allowing their emotions to rule them. Expressing an emotion is, to many people, dangerous territory where they can get hurt.

Acerbic sense of humor

man standing beside a man sitting on cast iron bench near buildings

Some people don’t take the abuse as well and turn it inward. In this instance, their sense of humor is a shield that allows them to do and say what they want. The acerbic sense of humor is a dare and a defense to the outside world.

Lack of emotional range

man in blue denim jacket

As I’ve already stated, emotions are the danger zone for these folks sometimes. They don’t want to give away too much, and as a result, some people will hover between certain emotions without going out of bounds.

Lack of direction

people sits by the table facing windows

In a severely miserable childhood, some people will never find their sense of direction. If the trauma is strong enough, they might exist on the fringes of society just to feel safe.


a shot glass sitting on top of a table

This is one of the most severe cases since some kids will take to the bottle, or to drugs, to quell the pain they feel from their miserable childhoods.


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