IT’S HARD TO ADMIT
how much they hurt me!
PREVIOUS : “They did the best they could” (#1)
2. DENIAL : Re. US (Cont.)
i. The PROBLEM with confronting our family (see previous post)
ii. The REALITY is that:
• we are very angry at our family. We need to feel that, in safe ways & places, away from them – with people who can hear our pain AND who don’t have a stake in shutting us up
• our WIC is still in deep shock at what we lived thru. We need to identify & validate those experiences, before we can let go of them. Until that happens, our life is run by our damage (the wounded child part)
• we need to have a clear picture of the negative lessons we learned from them, in order to know how to change those rules in the present
• to grow, we have to stop wanting our family’s approval & love, especially if they still can’t be there for us as adults. Some of us are lucky enough to have a better relationship with family than we had as kids, but most can not. We have to accept that or we’ll keep feeling devastated
• we cannot afford to ‘exonerate’ them, which means to white-wash the abuse & neglect. It’s what they taught us to do – to never hold them accountable. Because of that, we don’t hold others accountable for their bad behavior, now.
➼ WHY is this important? Because – as long as we negate their responsibility, we take it on as ours.
• This bears repeating – our self-hate tells us we were the cause of all our childhood suffering. This is a lie. Just think – our parents were fully formed in their ways before we were born, no matter how young they were. We could not have possibly been bad enough as 2 & 5 & 10 years old – to warrant the punishment & accusations we got! It was their damage, their rage, their abandonment issues, their addictions, their anxiety, back then – NOT US!
BTW – sometimes it’s legitimate to sit down with a parent or sibling to:
• ASK questions — about their past (if a parent – re. their childhood & life before kids, if a sibling – what they went thru & how they viewed things as a kid, which can be very helpful because it’s often different from ours, which can round out our understanding)
— what they remember about us & their experiences with us
• And to TELL them:
— what WE remember (good & mostly bad stuff)
— how we felt back then and now
— what we needed & missed
— how we’d like to be treated in the present…..
….. BUT ONLY when we’ve done some rage work & can come to the table with a little equanimity AND without the expectation that they’ll understand, change or even respond in a ‘sane’ way! It’s not about punishing them OR getting them to see our point! SO – what would be the point?
✶ The only real purpose is for our Inner Child (the damaged and the healthy parts) to hear us stand up for ourselves & speak the truth – finally! To have our say, no matter what the outcome. We we voiceless as kids. Not anymore! (***Read more @ Voicelessness)
DENIAL keeps us stuck. Accurate information is the beginning of change. If we can be totally honest with ourselves, we can :
a. make a list of all the ways they hurt our feelings, disappointed us, let us down, made life harder for us, said mean things, were disrespectful, demanded too much of us, didn’t help us learn … past & present (“5 Harmful Mothers”)
EXP: One lady said that when she told her aunt about her recent marriage, the aunt said: “Oh yeah, your mother mentioned it. She wondered how you got such a nice guy!” GRRRR
b. If possible, talk to anyone who knew our family when we were young, & ask their honest feedback about that they saw & heard. If not, then ask anyone who had dealt with them in the past few years
EXP: Another woman, in denial about how neglectful her mother had been, was talking to her oldest friend about those early years. Her friend said “Oh yeah, don’t you remember all the time she just left you alone to go out with her boyfriends? I even told you then it wasn’t ok!”
c. Make a detailed inventory of all our lovers & friends, identifying what they all have in common, to see what we’re attracted to (how much are they like our family?) That will tell us OUR pattern of reproducing our upbringing.
EXP: A young woman grew up a nice middle class family who were socially active, well dressed, not highly educated but practical & intelligent, generally admired & well liked. On the surface all was well, but behind the scenes, much psychological, spiritual & emotionally damage was being done – which was not acknowledged or dealt with. After all, they were “doing the best they could”! (Hint: Both parents were unrecovered ACoAs)
When the girl finally got out on her own, she ‘went wild’ & fell in with angry, disappointing friends, worked at inappropriate jobs & dated dangerous men. Most people treated her much worse than her parents had, so she must be crazy. Right? Only on the surface. Actually, she unconsciously found situations which expressed the inner reality of her home life – bringing to light the hidden abuse.
For expl: She realized that….
✓ her chief goal in life was to be dead! She remembered the first time she wished it – at age 10. At 13 she told her parents & they just brushed it aside. At 15 she was looking for a list of psychotic / schizophrenic characteristics, thinking it identified her (NOT). At 17 she had an affair with an older, married man… etc. The signs had been there all along, but no one took her seriously or just thought she was being a drama queen!
✓ ALL the men she had dated were alcoholics &/or ACoAs, & had to hate themselves & hate women – or she wasn’t interested
✓ she believed that her greatest ‘character defect’ was her need for love – after all, if she never felt loved & definitely didn’t deserve it – how could she keep wanting it? What a fool!
✓ she hated herself for being ‘so dramatic‘ & intense. Her mother often said she herself was perfect, & that she was glad she wasn’t sensitive like her kids. SO, one way to be acceptable & good was to not FEEL, which this woman could not do, being artistic & emotional.
✶ In recovery she was eventually able to undo much of the damage
• You may still think they did the best they could – but it wasn’t good enough to prevent seriously wounding their children
• The sad, enraging truth is that our family carelessly dumped their damage on us, and now we’re stuck having to clean up their mess
• The important issue is whether of not we are willing to do the hard work of healing. There’s much we need to rage & mourn about. Recovery is long & stressful, but do-able, and WE are WORTH IT.
NEXT:“Negative Benefits….” #1