I get emails from grown adults with children of their own who are still blaming their parents for who they are. I get emails from people who are entrenched in a battle with a family member and from those who cannot forgive a former partner. The more you dig your heels in and cling to your opinions, your version of events, your list of ways you’ve been wronged, the less chance there is to let some love in and to shine some light on your own participation and what it is you brought to the equation that led to a painful outcome. We always bring something to any situation, even if that something is our inability to stand up for ourselves, to value ourselves or to put an end to abusive treatment (assuming you weren’t a child at the time — in which case your work is simply to heal, not that it’s easy).
If you’re over 25, it’s time to stop blaming your parents no matter how bad it may have been. People do the best they can with what they’ve got. Sometimes the best they’ve got kind of sucks. This is not about you, and it does not reflect anything lacking in you. Not everyone is going to be lucky enough to have loving, mature parents who are ready or able to put their children first. We should also acknowledge timing, here. You may come into a person’s life at a time when their capacity to love, to extend themselves, to care, is just really limited. I say that in the context of parent-child relationships, friendships, and romantic partnerships. People can only be where they are. If you experienced neglect or abuse as a child, it’s hard not to feel enraged and I think you need to allow yourself that rage for awhile. I think you need to sit with whatever feelings you’ve got, whether they’re feelings of resentment, bitterness or blame and examine all of it. Mourn the childhood you didn’t have. Grieve. But if you get stuck there, if that’s as far as you take the journey, you just land yourself in a world of pain. I think very few people intend to hurt anyone, very few parents intentionally screw it up. Sometimes you just get caught in the storm of someone else’s journey through no fault of your own and you get hit in the face with a lot of hail and end up throwing up over the side of the ship, but you don’t have to stay in that storm for the rest of your life.
There are so many healing modalities available. Yoga, meditation, therapy, journaling, reading and anything else that works for you. Hiking, windsurfing, painting…whatever causes you to lose yourself for awhile, and tap into that larger feeling of being in the flow. Of course we all have different responses to trauma, not everyone handles it the same way. If you need some help, reach out. Don’t allow yourself to stay rooted in the dark, alone and shut down and in despair. There’s no need for that. There’s no reason that your past has to control your present or your future. Love can happen right now, in this moment if you let it. If you don’t believe that, put your hand on your heart and close your eyes, and when you breathe in, think, “I am whole, and I am lovable,” and exhale out some pain. You don’t have to hold onto it so tightly. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
In the context of romantic relationships, let me say this. It is never one person’s fault. If you think that’s possible, I guarantee you you’re missing a great chance to know yourself more deeply and to take some valuable information into your future partnerships. We all have stuff. We all have work to do, places where we could go deeper or show up in greater alignment with what’s true for us. The end of a relationship never tells the whole story. You can’t separate out the beginning and the middle, the alchemy between you and the other person which creates the third thing, the relationship between you. Timing, circumstances, where you were on your path, and where your partner was on theirs. Your participation. Your level of appreciation, patience, kindness, support and understanding. Your actions, things you said, did, didn’t do. What was motivating you. If you want to dig your heels in and point angry fingers that’s always a choice, but it’s not a choice that’s going to lead to growth or a deeper understanding of where you still have some healing to do.
With family members I recognize it can get complicated, but I think it’s so sad when siblings don’t speak to one another for years at a time. Over money, or someone’s spouse who said something hurtful when they were drunk at a family wedding. I know a guy who didn’t speak to his sister for ten years because they were arguing over the money their mom left behind. They both had children during this decade and countless beautiful experiences. These were siblings who grew up playing together, loving each other, sailing together over the summers, climbing trees when they were kids. And then the sister died. Horrendous. Un-dig your heels in life wherever possible so you can keep moving forward, which life asks of you every moment. So you can keep responding to what is, with your mind, heart and hands open. It’s not all going to go the way we want. People will let us down. We are all going to make choices we’d love to do over from time to time. Say things we’d love to take back. All of us. Forgive. Recognize that, and forgive. Or really, you’re in prison.
Sending you love,