Some days I think I am over it. Other days I relive the past in my mind and it’s like getting sucked into a vortex of pain, anger, and sadness. Several nights as of late I’ve fallen into this mindset and been insomniac. It would be easier on myself to just look to the future and leave the past where it is, but how can I when I still live with the same people who were contributors to my trauma?
Every day I see echoes of the past in their behaviors. I am not ashamed to say on here that I have a dysfunctional family. I know no one’s family is 100% perfect but mine has flaws where stuff has basically stayed the same and I know for the fact nothing will ever change on their end.
I am not saying I was ever 100% perfect and that I never wronged them either. But having gone through so much mental anguish in my youth, with the juxtaposition of living in a volatile household, it’s made me somewhat cynical about life itself. Am I too young to be thinking like this? Am I focusing too much on the negative? Why can’t I just move on and stop whining?
The way I see it, trauma begets trauma. To be blunt, I don’t think either of my parents were meant to be parents. They already had too much of their own emotional and psychological baggage, and then exposed me to it in unhealthy ways. I think the word for it is generational trauma?
That’s why I will do what they never did, which is choose not to have children. I never want to have my own child grow up with the insecurities and expectations that I would inevitably bestow on him/her and then to carry those unresolved burdens to adulthood. Sure, it has crossed my mind before that, “If I ever become a parent, I’ll treat my child so much better than how my parents treated me”, but how can such a thing be possible when I’ve already got problems of my own? I don’t want to pass down my existing trauma to someone else.
I saw a shared post on Facebook a few weeks ago. It was a black and white picture of a father and son. It looked like the man was teaching his son about how to fix a car. On a corner of the picture were the words, “Don’t give your kids what you wish you had growing up, teach them everything you wish you knew.”
That sentence has never rung more true for what I wish I had while I was growing up. Maybe my memory is biased, as I am inclined to remember more of my bad experiences (I’ve heard the brain tends to have better recollection with memories that it deems “important” to have, which, in my case, only gives me more emotional distress when I remember certain events). If other people asked my parents what kind of childhood I had, I am sure they would say they tried to give me everything I wanted. Though, material things can only buy a person’s affection for so long.
This is a loose example, but I remember a period in my childhood where I barely saw my own father because he was working two jobs at once. And when I did see him at home, it was like seeing a stranger. He was likely exhausted from working so much, but being a child, no one told me about that and he never openly talked to his children about how he was feeling or what he did that day. I have one memory of sitting in the kitchen and feeling like I wasn’t even being seen by him as he was wordlessly doing stuff in the kitchen; whether cooking or cleaning.
His older brother lived with us for a time and he showed more interest in talking with me than my father ever did. There was even a time when I thought my uncle was my real father; because what kind of father was gone all day and hardly ever said a word to me? I was a quiet child, yes, and the less I saw of my own father, the harder I found it to approach him verbally. So during dinners while he was present, I did not make eye contact with him or speak to him, and often he would just ask my mother about how I was that day and so forth.
I am aware that by showing this example that I am giving a one-sided view of my upbringing and that one memory doesn’t paint a full picture of all the good, bad, and ugly sides of how I grew up under my parents’ care. So I know my parents didn’t set out to be bad parents. I try to understand them. I know they tried their best and yet, I also cannot help but be reminded of how their behaviors affected me and what I wish they had done differently. The friction of the past haunts me when I see new conflicts arise in the household that are almost a reflection of the past come alive again.