We all have a story. We all have a history that is. For some of us that history turned out pretty well. Perhaps we grew up in an “intact family”; we had parents who met our basic needs of food, shelter and education who also modeled self control, knew what we needed most as children was to be seen, know that we mattered and that they delighted in us.
Others however were not so fortunate.
The reality is that the most important jobs in the world, that of partnering and parenting, we have the least amount of training for.
So unless we seek out life skills, counseling, or really good role models, we are stuck with thinking that however we were raised is normal and ok, or we tell ourselves a story that sounds like, “Well that’s just the way it was.” Then we largely repeat the same diet of words, actions and patterns we were raised on with the next generation.
The problem is that if you were in a family where you were neglected, abused, or perhaps your emotional needs were not met, ”that’s just the way it was” does not help the fall out of that kind of upbringing. Because your body and brain recorded every incident and it is still stored away inside you.
How many times have you told yourself a story that minimizes what you experienced growing up? For example, if you came from divorced parents and the non-primary parent was not reliable to see you -think back to what that felt like. “That’s the way it was isn’t going to cut it.”
It is not that you are wrong in that story, it is that you have come to believe a story that may or may not be fully accurate. When we are kids, and a parent does not show up for us, our immature emotional and rational brain assumes that something must be wrong with us for them not to show up.
Yes, it is true, most parents do “the best they can with what they have at the time” another story we may have told ourselves.
While that also may be true, the wounds and stories from our childhood are often alive and well and playing out daily in our adult lives. Sometimes those stories play out in addiction, self protection, self loathing, toxic thinking, hurtful comments to others, abusive behavior, self harm, narcissism , depression, anxiety and the list goes on.
When we have not let ourselves feel the pain of what has happened to us, it will often seep or pour out of us in one way or another.
Some people develop a coping mechanism of becoming chronically angry or critical. That ensures no one will dare get too close. (If I criticize first, no one will point out my flaws.)
Some people numb their pain with drugs, food, gambling, porn, alcohol etc., another coping mechanism that we may develop initially as a way of not dealing with the pain of our story.
And others “stuff.” They take all those difficult feelings and attempt to create an internal cemetery where all difficult feelings and hurts go to die, but that road often leads to the pain and anguish of depression and /or anxiety.
Why are we talking about this? Aren’t these blogs supposed to be happy, positive, and about enhancing wellbeing?
Because these issues affect SO very many people. Because we not only have a pandemic, we have issues that are endemic like addiction, divorce, abuse, neglect, social injustice, anger, violence, and a trail of children that are the next generations victims to all of it if we don’t start talking about the toll of people NOT dealing with their woundedness. Their story. Their history.
I lived a long time not fully understanding my story. My childhood was tumultuous at best. I was not in the intact family club. I have lots of stories. Like many counselors, I have journeyed into the most arduous and rewarding process- that of understanding my past wounds, and how they have affected my choices in work, health, relationships and parenting.
Today we won’t get into all the how to’s and what to do’s. Hopefully we will inspire you to realize that while you cannot rewrite your past, you can learn and choose to be on a path of discovery that leads to peace, forgiveness, health and vitality. Many people embark on this journey by enlisting the help of a competent, qualified and caring counselor or therapist.
Your health, relationships, parenting and your future are hinged on whether you choose to take this meaningful and sometimes scary journey of discovery.
If we are left with just our stories, our minimizing or stuffing can lead to behaviors and consequences that can be destructive or debilitating to our welfare and that of others around us.
Here is the wellness part. You do not have to be stuck with the stories you have told yourself or in the past difficulties of your life. You can retrain your brain to not believe every thought you have, no longer blame yourself or anyone else but rather to be curious, explore, learn and grow and perhaps create a brand new foundation for your life.
Hoping today you will invest in yourself, your health and relationships by writing a future story that is bright and beautiful.