We grow up in different types of families and environments, surrounded by people that have had their own experiences growing up. Some, if not all of them, carry scars, wounds, traumas or some sort of painful experiences that have impacted their life journey and influenced where they are now. All the positive thinking in the world could not heal those wounds or early experiences that have left a mark on their lives.
These people grow up, become adults, start their own families and have children. They move on with their life and job and try to make the best choices, but still, something doesn’t quite work. Their children and spouse don’t understand their reactions or attitude towards certain things and situations, for instance. I think we are missing a big puzzle piece here!
Imagine our parents having their own issues growing up, and their parents not being available for them for support or to just have a small chat about challenges they’ve were facing. Our parents then try to cover up for that gap by providing things they didn’t have or they just become cold towards us and don’t know how to deal with emotional issues that arise, since they haven’t received support from their own “carers” either.
What I’m trying to say is that I believe we make choices with the best knowledge that we have at that moment. I know looking back afterwards will cause us to think we could have done better, but that is not the point. We decided what was best then, not what would be best now. So then, what’s the point in looking back, reopening old wounds and scars that we are trying to get over? It would not make things better. On the contrary, it would make things worse and it would have an impact on our social, work and family life.
Most of my clients come in and share their stories and how one or both of their parents neglected them or weren’t “emotionally available” for them. That is one of the most common stories you would hear. It is my story as well. The question is, what do you make out of it? Do you choose to live in the past or focus on the present, the here and now? Your circumstances might change or they might not, but the important question is: What do you do with that?
I think it’s just not worth dwelling in the past — it never helps. Studying your past gives you an insight on what happened, but nothing more. Our parents did the best with what they had at that moment. They had to deal with their own issues and with our issues as well. I think they did the best they could. I can say now that I am grateful for my father even though growing up I hated things he had done. I never felt he was there. Growing and maturing has given me different eyes and a new perspective, and now I can say I understand many of his decisions. At that time I just couldn’t — I was blinded by my own rage and I felt I was entitled to that. I didn’t care about his perspective or his life experiences. Hearing him talk about it for the first time was challenging for me. I felt a bit ashamed and it really opened my eyes and gave me an insight into his own world.
Today I am grateful for him. I am thankful for his care even though I needed it more when I was a kid. He is not perfect, nor will he ever be, but I can love him and accept him just as he has done that with me every single day so far.
Thank your parents for their support. They did the best they could with what they had. Let them know you appreciate them and you understand their intentions and love. Don’t judge them too harshly even if they don’t share with you what they went through. They all have a story behind, and some of those stories are difficult to share. Regardless of that, cherish them and let them know you do understand and accept them as they are.