Several years ago I met a wonderful woman and the joined class she led. It was for women who needed healing from various problems. It was a class that gave me another piece of what I needed to heal from shame I had once felt. For a lot of things, but mostly from things that happened to me that weren’t my fault. I loved the class so much that I began training to teach one myself. I shadowed this dear woman who is now a great friend when she taught a class at the local mission. Then the youth pastor at our church had me share about the journey to healing with the youth at our church. Afterwards I began meeting with a group of teenage girls who had been on their own healing journey. I never felt so humbled in my life to be hearing these girls fears, their honest feelings and how they feel insecure no matter how popular they are at school. These opportunities would come at a time when I needed them most. Within a year of my husband’s subdural hematoma. I was lost and had no idea how to navigate my world and it was through the class and through helping others, not to mention therapy galore, that I got well. I learned to be a better mom and a better wife and finally a better person than the one I was before.
No one has a perfect family. We all do the best we can with what we are given. I knew I was loved as a child. My children never lack love from me and my family and friends. But all it takes is one person, one event, one hurting and sick individual to change the way one feels about himself or herself for the rest of their lives. I also learned through some of the leadership classes with the church and through my own psychology courses at school that it only takes one person to destroy a child’s self-esteem. The actions of one sick person towards can change the course of their lives. An adult shamed as a child grows up to think so low of themselves that they end up on drugs, with eating disorders, in abusive relationships, acting out sexually, depression, suicidal behavior, never knowing that they are worth more. These are trademark behaviors of adults shamed as children. It isn’t just sexual and physical abuse that cause problems, although they are the certainly the most severe forms of abuse. The characteristics of a dysfunctional family cause anxiety, unpredictability and stress for those who grow up in them. Families don’t become dysfunctional on purpose. Having an absent parent, long term illnesses, addictions and excessive outbursts of anger don’t happen overnight. It is easy to slip into dysfunctional patterns. It takes work to get healthy. It takes hard work, years of learning healthy behavior and an environment free of blame or hiding feelings. It takes God in our home to be a healthy family despite the drama that comes up against us. The healthy family is not problem free, health comes in the way problems are handled.
No one blog post can tell how to remain healthy because each family has different problems and different needs. About six and a half years ago I left a violent situation. When I came back twenty minutes later what I found was horrifying. And I knew then I would never be the same again. I have spent the years since that night getting well. I have learned so much about myself and why I am the way I am and how to be healthier. I was warned that when one person gets healthy, not everyone will be supportive. I found that to be true as when I finally decided to set boundaries for the first time in my life, I was met with not only a lack of support, but rage and hostility. It’s easy to love those who love me back. How am I going to respond when to those who don’t love me? With love and forgiveness. It’s what well people do.
My child was admitted to a hospital last week. By us, his parents. We didn’t understand why certain things were happening. I now know that my child is going to have a tough road ahead of him. He was hurt by adults he trusted. He was acting out in ways that should have been obvious to me, but I chose to believe that it was illness making him behave this way. He has autism so it was not a huge jump to add another diagnosis onto that one. It turns out that the problem is one that is fixable. Like me, he will need a lot of talking, honesty, painful feelings work, and boundaries set so that he can learn to have self esteem again. He is still in the hospital.
When my husband was injured it was easy to forgive. He was an adult and we are in a healthy place to see truth for what it is. When my kid gets injured, I want to kill somebody. My Grandmother who was a very wise woman said to me once, “Every mother is capable of murder.” I finally get it. Fortunately, I have had over six years of weekly help and groups and therapy and meditation and writing. Harboring anger and bitterness would undo all of the hard work done so far. I am tired of keeping people’s secrets to the detriment of my family. I have protected those who would not do the same had the shoe been on the other foot. I made excuses for why violence was okay when everyone in my life told me that it was not. I have gotten well and that scares people who choose to remain sick. Or protect those who are sick and won’t get help. One of my doctors recently told me that if someone is suffering from psychopath or sociopath disorders (which are more common than I thought) that those around them will eventually either have a nervous breakdown or begin to take on traits as they enable that behavior. Recently I made the final choice in a long list of choices made to live a good life. I had to take a step back from an unwell person who refuses to get help. It’s hurt my family tremendously and we would love nothing more than to see healing, but I understand better than anyone that getting well is a choice one must make for themselves. But I will not enable a sick person who has caused drama and damage. Writing down all of the difficult times in my life, the drama, the violent events in my life helped me to see that it was all connected to a lack of boundaries in one specific area. I saw a pattern. So I set up a barrier and stopped the pattern. It’s not the problem that makes a family dysfunctional, it’s how a problem is handled that decides how healthy we are.
So how do I handle my problems? Honesty. Lots of therapy and counseling. Helping those who are going through what I have walked through. Making sure that my children know they can be whoever they choose to be and I will be proud of them. Acceptance of differences. We talk about everything in our home. My kids come to me and tell me things I never thought they would trust me and I am so grateful for that. They are growing up to be emotionally healthy people. Even if they stumble across problems they will know how to handle them correctly and that’s what will keep them from dysfunction.
I am writing a book and using my journals and some research I’ve done as the jumping off point. I’ll be putting together a media packet and making sure it’s marketed in every state and hopefully give the interviews I once turned down. The journey to healing these last six to seven years have been incredible. The few people I have opened up to have encouraged me to take what I have and share it in hopes that it will be helpful. It has helped me tremendously writing all the things I was never allowed to say. Now that my child is beginning his own journey, I feel more than ever a renewed connection to the road I have walked. This will be my story to tell. What I felt and the struggles that went on inside me and what finally had to happen for my soul to heal. It will be about how I let go of blame and shame and learned to forgive because not forgiving was making me bitter. My lack of boundaries kept me from telling people to get lost. I was angry when I realized that I had the right and responsibility to stop letting unwell people hurt me, but chose to let them because I hadn’t yet learned my worth as a person. We are not obligated to lay down our lives as mats for others to step upon. We are not obligated to protect those who continue to hurt us. Our first obligation is to get well and healthy so that we may live a somewhat functional and healthy family life. It’s only when I discovered I was worth enough to be loved and valued that I could stop focusing on the problems and simply love and value others. It’s a good way to live.
Thanks for reading!