Hurt people hurt people; it’s an undeniable and continuing cycle unless and until somebody breaks it.
Despairingly, it’s a never ending cycle in many families.
In my family, as in too many others, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual, physical and emotional abuse, neglect and abandonment, secrets and betrayal have been passed on from generation to generation.
I was raised in this environment and there’s not a lot of chance to grow up and out of it with healthy self-esteem and an inspirational sense of who you are in the world, or any sense of who you are in the world.
My childhood was certainly not a recipe for me to become a happy, healthy, well-adjusted person who believed in myself and my ability to go forth and conquer the world, or even go forth for that matter. Instead I sought out more and more of what I knew, simply because this was where I found my only sense of security – within the familiarity of abusive situations and people. They confirmed my deeply entrenched inner belief of my own sense of worthlessness.
The very people who were supposed to care about me the most were the people who caused the most harm. It was from that family foundation and environment that I formed my ideas and beliefs about relationships, life and what I thought love was supposed to be about. A long period of suffering and self-destruction followed.
There’s a great deal of people we can hold responsible for our lives, if we choose. Firstly, there are our parents; aren’t they the people who we could expect to be held accountable for our life and wellbeing?
Absolutely yes, up to a point, and then we have choices – but usually it’s not until we can move away (or we are moved away from) the dysfunction and abuse that we might discover the possibility that we have the ability to choose. From there we may search, find and discover opportunities to unravel the wreckage of our lives so we may begin to recognise the damaging affect our family unit has had on us.
To break the cycle, to feed our own sense of self worth, and to learn about ways in which we can help ourselves grow into whole human beings is a journey. It is a journey that takes time, courage, faith and determination.
The damage that occurs during an abusive childhood takes time – the longest and most insufferable time – and is usually shrouded in secrecy, and denial.
The discovery that we were not responsible for our suffering but we are responsible for our healing is a very confronting and powerful time for anybody who has been a victim of abuse – for child abuse victims it is often a time in which we see our parents in a whole new light or dark.
More than likely our parents are or were hurt and dysfunctional human beings themselves, passing on to us what they had learned.
Physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually sick due to the dysfunctions of their own upbringing for which they then look to their parents and see much the same, if they are willing, if they are capable… if they choose to see.
That’s just it though – the seeing takes courage, and once you’ve seen you have to be willing and able to keep looking. Then you need to be willing to take responsibility, not for what you see but what you can do about what you see… What and how you can change it, or perhaps how you can accept, let go and move on.
One needs to take action and therein lies the responsibility and the risk. In my case it was the risk of being the white sheep in a black family.
The truth is, the responsibility to break the cycle and redetermine the course of one’s own life is there for the taking by anyone who claims it – it’s all about choices. No choice is a choice too.
To stop hurting myself because they hurt me was a decision I needed to make for myself.
It takes courage and faith to take the necessary risks in reaching out – to tell the truth, to acknowledge the pain, to divulge the burdening shame that is passed down from generation to generation. Anyone who’s grown up in an abusive and dysfunctional family will agree the damage done leaves scars carved into their very soul.
To stop blaming them, whoever they are, and start taking the responsibility of finding ways to heal and recover from the pain is a decision.
There is help and support out there. Sometimes its hard to find, sometimes it’s so incredibly hard to find.
But it is out there, and we all deserve to heal.