When I was eleven, my parents announced they were divorcing. I was not surprised, but I was devastated. The only adult in my home, my Dad, who was not an alcoholic, was leaving. I left at thirteen, just two years later, so that I would not be swallowed alive by my mother’s beer bottles.
Each day in therapy, I hear horrendous stories about the childhood events of my client’s. Some have been abused, sexually, physically, emotional and spiritually. My heart goes out to each of them and I wonder how it is we all survived. I also wonder when we will begin to get over it. There is certainly validity in exploring these issues. For one thing, it is by exploring our past that we can determine which life tools we received and which we did not. We can also sort out the truth about our self and the lies we have yet to stop believing. We can reclaim our memories and resolve our pain. We can toss the survival mechanisms that no longer serve to protect us, but rather, keep us separate and inauthentic. Beyond that, I think some of us also have the illusion that life, or our parents, owe us something, to make up for all our hard times. Where is that one written? The truth is that we are here to do it better than they did and to learn lessons from their mistakes. It is our heritage to do so. Our spiritual assignment, if you will.
Each generation has the chance to be better than the last, not use parents, or a lack of good parenting, as an excuse for our own deficiencies. Once we become adults it is our responsibility to get the tools our parents did not have to give us. It’s our job to make decisions about the quality of our own character. It’s our assignment to clean up our lives and the world for our all of the children. Unfortunately, many of us are using our childhood trauma as an excuse for our own bad behavior. We have yet to take a front row seat in life and begin to create what we want from it. Some people exist under the illusion that it would be more comforting to have someone else, our parents, do it for us. Their parents give them money, but they are not secure. Their parents try to be better, but they are not satisfied. Their parents die and they are still not healed. Maybe that’s because it’s not about our parents. It’s about us. Who we are and what we choose to become.
Those of us who never learned to communicate need to learn how to do so now. Those of us who had our boundaries broken need to learn to set our own boundaries and respect those of others. Those who were never taught to deal with money and security in a self-loving way need to figure that out and stop making ourselves crazy with worry over this issue. Those of us afraid of intimacy get to choose someone we trust and begin practicing this new experience. It can be a friend, a family member or your beloved. If you never had spirituality, and you want to feel it, begin exploring what is out there and find some belief system that feels good to you. If you never had the stability of a home, give that to yourself. Decorate it your way and furnish it with things you love.
The longer you wait for the person who hurt you to make it up to you, the longer you remain a victim. Not only is it true that they may never become conscious, but you are also giving them the responsibility for your quality of life and your happiness. Do you really want someone else in that position?
From the moment you get up in the morning, you have a clean slate. Life is waiting for you to get involved. Decide what you want. Make an inventory of the life skills and tools you feel you need in order to make life the way you’d like it to be and then figure out where or from whom you can get these skills. If you are not even sure what you are missing, ask you best friends to give you some insight about it. If you have a friend that is good with money, ask him or her to teach you. If there is someone in your life who does intimacy well, get a lesson on what it takes to create intimacy. Pick up books or tapes on these subjects and get into you own living life well school. Take a look out that window. No one is coming to do these things for you. Besides, if they did you would have to give them the credit. Wouldn’t it feel better to be able to stand back and say, “My parents couldn’t give me what I needed, so I am giving it myself!”