ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) are a good indicator of childhood trauma. I personally experienced 4 ACEs during my childhood. Looking down the list, they all have one thing in common: relationships.
They are either an example of unhealthy relationship behaviors (physical, emotional or sexual abuse), or they represent the loss of an important relationship (prison, death, divorce). Even drug and alcohol abuse is based in unhealthy emotional regulation and the inability to consistently connect in a meaningful way with others.
As George Vaillant—director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development*—said, “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” I expand this to say “The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships: with other people, but also with yourself.”
*For more info on the Harvard Study of Adult Development, check out this amazing TED talk by the current director of the study, Robert Waldinger.