I started some serious journaling today, and found I was arguing with myself as I faced some childhood memories. I remember things that happened that profoundly affected me where I felt terrible shame, betrayal, and guilt as the child, but in reliving them from my 58 year old perspective, I found myself feeling some sympathy for the issues my parents were going through and wanting to cut them some slack. Then I felt like I was betraying that child that I was even further by siding with those who made her feel that way. I found myself wishing that someone with some perspective had told my parents how their issues were affecting their child. Then I thought of a way to handle it that may be in 1,000 psychology books, but I haven't read 1,000 psychology books, and this may be helpful to someone else who hasn't. If this is a well known technique, forgive me - I'm new to this and I like to talk. I decided that maybe I should be the one to talk to my parents and tell them how their issues were affecting their child. So the 58 year old me had a talk with my 30 year old mom in my head, and I told her that I understood how she was feeling, to find herself in a town far away from her family and married to someone who would drink far too often, and torn between supporting her child and being the obedient housewife she had been raised to be. I told her that her daughter really needed her to listen to her childlike fears and to stand up to her husband when he said that she was coddling her daughter by listening to her whine. I told my 26 year old father that I could understand how painful it must have been to leave the town where he had lived with his parents until he was married, and then to have his father die suddenly a month later and feel that he had abandoned his mother, who went from having a husband and son in her daily life to being alone a month later. I could understand why he wanted to drink to numb the grief and guilt, but that it would lead him down a path that would make him angry and depressed, and his family sad and disconnected. I found that the conversation took on a life of its own even though it was all in my own head. They 'answered' me with other things that I had not seen from my childhood as serious issues for them. And they heard me and asked forgiveness. Previous to this I had forgiven my parents in adulthood, but I still found it hard to forgive their behavior with me as a defenseless child in need of their love and support. This conversation made it possible to forgive their younger selves. And afterward, I felt a strange quiet in my head and my soul. I think I felt peace for the first time in a long time. I've often felt like I should be ashamed for feeling badly about my childhood - while it wasn't 'perfect', there was no violence or physical abuse, and a lot of other people have had childhoods as bad as mine. My family motto rearing its ugly head - suck it up and stop whining. And I have an amazing support system now, but I still behave like my childhood was a big deal, like it affects me everyday, like I'm totally unappreciative of the support I have now. Really, isn't it unfair to those in my life that their support hasn't totally transformed me into a secure, confident, healthy superwoman? Isn't that what they deserve? What is wrong with me? But I realized today - what happened in my childhood is that I learned lessons that do not serve me well in my adulthood, and never have. They were not the lessons that are learned in a 'perfect' family, as seen on TV. But they are the same lessons learned in many, many other households, and they are the lessons I've lived by because they are all I had. That doesn't make them good, and it doesn't mean I have to live with them forever. And now, as an adult, that I know these lessons did not serve me well, it is my right and my choice to relearn them - to see myself as a worthy human being, deserving of love and support. I'm not a bad person - I just was taught that I was (or drawn that way, as Jessica Rabbit would say). And a college student can get tons of support but if he doesn't study or read the textbook - he's gonna flunk, and so am I if I don't do my homework. The support is absolutely essential, but it's not gonna get the job done alone. If you made it this far, thanks for reading my amateur psych lesson, and I hope you found something helpful and hopeful in it.