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How I'm dealing with my childhood

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by debbi1955, May 10, 2014.

  1. debbi1955

    debbi1955 Peer Supporter

    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.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Debbi. Your story is great and I'm so glad you shared it.
    You thought about your girlhood and it led you to do what I found in my healing...
    you put yourself in your parents' shoes and understood why they gave you guilt, anger, etc.
    I too was able to forgive my parents for what I perceived as anxiety and anger in my youth.
    They were both gone by then, but I forgave them in my mind and heart, and the back pain I had
    felt went away.

    I'm glad you now see yourself as a worthy human being, deserving of love and support.
    Now you have dealt with the painful past, let it go. Do things now and think about things now
    that make you happy. You only have to ask God once to forgive you and He gets the message.
    Same with the unconscious. It gets the message and you don't have to repeat it. The job is done.

    Happy days ahead!
    debbi1955 likes this.
  3. debbi1955

    debbi1955 Peer Supporter

    Thanks, Walt. Both of my parents are gone, too. I was good with my mom long before her passing, but still had issues with my dad when he died and probably always would have. I found that hard to live with for awhile. He just never thought his behavior was a problem, so everything going wrong must be people outside of himself, including me. I never could change his mind about that, but that's his story - and not mine, and I need to understand that. Him believing I was the problem didn't make it so.

    I am usually open to trying things to help, but I never found speaking to my inner child helpful and I didn't know why. Now I think it was because my current self didn't feel like I deserved to feel better, so how could I tell my 5 year old self she did? I was lying, and the kid knew it. I feel now like I can say to her 'it really wasn't you. Mom and Dad had their own issues, and you weren't the problem'. It feels like it's coming from honesty now.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I reached the same conclusion about my parents. They did the best they could during hard times during the 1930s
    Great Depression. I wonder if i could have done as well. They had their own TMS pain but I never thought about that
    back when I was a boy. It's a shame that we don't know enough about life and TMS when we're younger so we can
    talk things out with our parents. And they didn't know about TMS back then, either. They just worried about paying
    the rent, utility bills, and putting food on the table. Lots of people are struggling today to do the same things.
  5. Lori

    Lori Well known member

    We surely have feelings toward our parents and our perspective of happenings from our childhood. It's great to process these. It's interesting to get the point of compassion and forgiveness toward our parents--who were doing the best they could for where they were at the time. And we are doing the best we can now too! :)
  6. AndrewMillerMFT

    AndrewMillerMFT Well known member


    What an amazing post! You've really highlighted a fantastic part of the healing process. Many of your peers have had conversations (whether written or in their head - I always recommend writing it down!) with caregivers in their past about the way they have been treated. It's incredibly powerful to own your voice around such situations - possibly for the first time! - and say the things that went unsaid, that you never had the ability to say or couldn't for whatever reason. The benefit is often a newfound sense of competence, power and relief... AND... it can have a profound affect on TMS symptoms!

    Additionally, because repression of emotions (such as anger) in the present day add to the level of rage/emotional pain in the unconscious, I often recommend people get in the habit of writing letters to anyone in their current life who they feel they have to quash their voice around: it could be your husband, wife, boss, child, neighbor, whomever! It the realities of life lead you to reduce your voice with others, at least have a chance to own that voice on paper. It's remarkable what can happen.
    debbi1955 likes this.
  7. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Good advice, AndrewMiller.
    I find that what I write down, such as in journaling, seems to reach my unconscience mind better than
    just thinking it. Writing unsent letters to those who have given us repressed anger can help us a lot.

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