Young and naive, confused and alone, the cycle would go on for years. Absorbing my surroundings like a sponge, memorizing words of hate to use decades later in my own personal attacks of those whom I cherished. The chaos continued and here began my addiction of escape and coping mechanisms that allowed me to merely exist in this world- floating through my constant cloud of depression that became so normalized that I had a full out battle with my ego when I later tried to give it up. The safe haven of darkness that was so familiar and cozy- ripped out from under me was enough to give me my first of many mental breakdowns.
It wasn’t until I chose to start doing this increasingly difficult work, that I was able to finally begin to make sense of it all. The process of questioning, unlearning, rewiring and digging up the roots that ran so deep within me and had grown into enormously miserable yet thriving plants of despair and flowers of hopelessness flipped it all around for me. The new self-awareness and hyper sensitivity of becoming a completely different person gave me the much-needed perspective to make sense of it all.
They say that at birth we come into this world having the cumulative trauma of four generations embedded into our DNA, a shockingly simple realization for me now. At the almost age of 30, I squeeze the murky water from my childhood sponge to see its contents spilled out in front of me. Even as adult children it’s difficult for us to remember that our parents are merely humans, like the rest of us. We create unreachable expectations for those around us and collapse to the ground when they aren’t met. I understand that you came from different backgrounds and generations. I understand that you had good intentions all along, but they never matched your expectations because they didn’t align with your values that you had inherited from someone else without question. I see how you did your best, even if it meant showing up empty- because no one ever modeled self-care to you. I know that the invisible line between love and co-dependency is easy to cross- and I’m even more familiar with how that mindset sends you spiraling into the darkness of a victim mentality. It’s easy to be a victim; to be miserable, to blame the world and everyone in it for your mood swings, depression, resentment, self-loathing and failures. That style of life is a much more instinctual pick versus the one where we take responsibility for our problems, reflect and question ourselves and what we put out in this world. The ego is here to protect us and keep us alive, but it also loves labels and identities and it works overtime to construct the resilient pride that refuses to let go of what no longer is working, for fear of its necessary ego-death. Many of us will never be able to admit that we get what we put out.
It’s one thing to finally look in the mirror and realize what you’ve been projecting onto others; seeing the damage you’ve caused and the effect it had on everyone around you- but it’s a much more difficult road to learn the healthy way to behave and think- let alone apply it in real life. Many of us choose the long road of denial- something I had difficulty finding my way out of thanks to those coping mechanisms I mentioned earlier. Material things, escaping with drugs and an exploding social calendar, even romantic comedies were a way to keep my head in the clouds- not noticing how it would bring about the crumbling of many un-sturdy foundations when they didn’t match the fluffy Disney-like happy endings I fantasized my codependency would lead to.
I know that it seems much easier to keep pointing the finger, stonewall and run away than to do what seems impossible- heal. But the healing is exactly what you will be preventing from yourselves if you don’t use this experience wisely- Spirit will only give you so many opportunities for growth before you can no longer live with the regret. Blaming will only lead to worse problems that never get fixed because you are denying yourself the opportunity to take responsibility and make necessary changes. Criticizing, judging and using hate filled words to air out the pressure of pent up resentment is just a mere projection of what is inside- anger and sadness. It’s hard to let go of the entitlement that comes from refusing to accept, or even fathom the idea, that other possible perspectives exist or the fact that other people having opinions and feelings too. The incessant pain that you try to squash with distractions will never dissipate because deep down you know that acknowledging it means admitting defeat and the fact that you can never take back the hurt you caused others.
I close my eyes; my mind’s eye settles in the darkness and I fixate my sight on a little girl-myself. She’s small and seems helpless, with tear-filled eyes she looks up at me. Her hand in mine, trembling with fear and sadness. She is hurt but she knows she will be ok. We walk together to the other side of the room, where two other children are standing. My mother, young and frail looking- scared to death. Her only known purpose is the family she raises- the struggles of motherhood and not knowing how to express her love raveled in a nest of depression and loneliness. My father is thin, with a sad boyish face. His eyes long for more, yet he fears he will never reach it so he constantly and subconsciously does just that. Neither of them feels worthy or deserving- the affection they received only showed glimpses of what true and unconditional love was, so together they would struggle, blindly, until they could learn to love themselves first. My younger self and I forgive you; we understand and we accept what has happened and what is happening. Regardless of the immense pain and trauma that it has caused to resurface, I am grateful for this because it is making me look at what I was running away from for two decades. As Freud said “one day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” That is the only thing I am certain of.
I am the daughter of you two beautiful beings and I will never stop being that, I am not here to choose sides- I see the pain behind both of your experiences. I just wish you the best of luck and I hope you find your way back home-wherever that may be.