We all have those pivotal moments in our lives that have shaped not only our perspective of the world but the way we show up in it. These moments have either hardened or softened us, healed or hurt us, and silenced or freed us. What happened to you may not have been your fault, but how you chose to come out on the other side became your responsibility.
I get it. I used to play the blame game, too.
“But they did _____ to me…”
You can fill in the blank. Maybe someone lied to you, cheated on you, stole from you, broke your trust, or traumatized you to the point of hypervigilance and unwavering suspicion.
I’ve been through my fair share of trauma just like you. My own father continues to drown in the depths of his alcohol addiction and regains a sense of power through emotional control over his so-called “family.” It certainly wasn’t pleasant witnessing years of his unrestrained rage and sense of satisfaction after calling my mother and I “useless,” “worthless,” and “crazy.”
With my mother falling victim to silence, I could easily say that I’m predisposed to end up tired and wounded just like her because I was taught to tolerate – and feel deserving of – pain and disrespect. I could let the years spent confined at home, not allowed to visit my school friends, be an excuse for the twisted version of what I deem as “normal” in a relationship. I could just give up on love and allow my father to define the nature of all men as abusive, unfaithful human beings.
I could give my power away. I could continue to bleed all over the people who never cut me because I’m not brave enough to confront myself and put in the work of unlearning destructive, generational patterns. I choose not to. In fact, this experience – that I’m still healing from – was one of the best things that happened to me. I didn’t have an option in experiencing this reality, which makes it even better.
The world placed its bets on me. Something or someone beyond me was convinced that I’m strong enough to go through and grow through something that shatters and defines the majority. I refuse to believe it was an accident.
This is the first time I’m sharing this piece of my story which I’ve avoided for so long. I was a good child listening to my mother’s hushes and insecurity of what other people would think if we told the sickening truth of what happens behind closed doors. By continuing to follow those cues, however, I’d be doing myself and you a disservice. I’d be reinforcing the fact that having less-than-ideal, abusive parents is something to be ashamed of: that the situation you’re in is the way it is and there’s nothing you can do to escape its constraints.
I choose to be a role model instead of a victim. Allow me to show up as proof that you can move beyond the most painful occurrences you’ve encountered. I’m not saying that healing is easy. I’m not expecting you to never dip back into the habits that have been drilled into your subconscious for years – many of which have become some of your most clever defense mechanisms. As long as your memory stands by you, you’ll remember your struggles and get triggered by “irrational” instances, but recognize that there’s so much power in your thoughts: the only things you have complete control over.
Reach out for help. Research others who have gone through similar situations and take note of how they made it through. I promise you there’s so much more out there for you beyond the tight bubble of possibility you’re floating around in.
You owe it to yourself to heal. That’s the only way you can ever truly be free to become all that you were created to be in this world.
Julia Nadolski, CPT