Awkward silences rule the world. People are so terrified of awkward silences that they will literally go to war rather than face an awkward silence.
A family can be the bane of one's existence. A family can also be most of the meaning of one's existence. I don't know whether my family is bane or meaning, but they have surely gone away and left a large hole in my heart.
After my parents were dead, I found in a box and in two chests of drawers nothing but hundreds of bright red Alpine caps, I said, nothing but bright red Alpine stockings. Every one of them knitted by my mother. My parents could have gone into the High Alps with these bright red caps and bright red stockings for thousands of years. I burnt every one of those bright red caps and bright red stockings, I said. I put on one of my mother's hundreds of bright red Alpine caps and in this costume burnt all the others, laughing, laughing, continuously laughing, I said.(Goethe Dies, p.65)
Making amends is not only saying the words but also being willing to listen to how your behavior caused another’s pain, and then the really hard part…changing behavior.
Along with the trust issues, one of the hardest parts to deal with is the feeling of not being believed or supported, especially by your own grandparents and extended family. When I have been through so much pain and hurt and have to live with the scars every day, I get angry knowing that others think it is all made up or they brush it off because my cousin was a teenager. I was ten when I was first sexually abused by my cousin, and a majority of my relatives have taken the perpetrator's side. I have cried many times about everything and how my relatives gave no support or love to me as a kid when this all came out. Not one relative ever came up to that innocent little girl I was and said I am sorry for what you went through or I am here for you. Instead they said hurtful things: Oh he was young. That is what kids do. It is not like he was some older man you didn't know. Why does age make a difference? It is a sick way of thinking. Sexual abuse is sexual abuse. What is wrong with this picture? It brings tears to my eyes the way my relatives have reacted to this and cannot accept the truth. Denial is where they would rather stay.
You can deny him, he thought, watching his father across the table. You can hate him, love him, pity him, never speak to or look at him in the eye again, never deign even to be in his crabbed and bitter presence, but you're still stuck with the son of a bitch. One way or another he'll always be your daddy, not even all-powerful death was going to change that.
Amanda, you finally decided to answer the phone,” her mom exclaimed after picking up at the first ring. “Where’ve you been, what’ve you been up to?”“Mom, do you remember when I was a kid, I had a friend, he was a Personification of the Sydney Tar Ponds, sort of my imaginary friend?” Mandy asked.“No, what in the name of god are you on about?” her mom sighed in exasperation.“Remember? Only I could see him, but he was real and he was my best friend when I was eighteen?” Mandy insisted.“No, I don't remember Alecto Sydney Steele at all,” said her mom all too quickly.
I immersed myself in my relationship with my husband, in little ways at first. Dutch would come home from his morning workout and I’d bring him coffee as he stepped out of the shower. He’d slip into a crisp white shirt and dark slacks and run a little goop through his hair, and I’d eye him in the mirror with desire and a sultry smile that he couldn’t miss. He’d head to work and I’d put a love note in his bag—just a line about how proud I was of him. How beautiful he was. How happy I was as his wife.He’d come home and cook dinner and instead of camping out in front of the TV while he fussed in the kitchen, I’d keep him company at the kitchen table and we’d talk about our days, about our future, about whatever came to mind. After dinner, he’d clear the table and I’d do the dishes, making sure to compliment him on the meal. On those weekends when he’d head outside to mow the lawn, I’d bring him an ice-cold beer. And, in those times when Dutch was in the mood and maybe I wasn’t, well, I got in the mood and we had fun.As the weeks passed and I kept discovering little ways to open myself up to him, the most amazing thing happened. I found myself falling madly, deeply, passionately, head-over-heels in love with my husband. I’d loved him as much as I thought I could love anybody before I’d married him, but in treating him like my own personal Superman, I discovered how much of a superhero he actually was. How giving he was. How generous. How kind, caring, and considerate. How passionate. How loving. How genuinely good. And whatever wounds had never fully healed from my childhood finally, at long last, formed scar tissue. It was like being able to take a full breath of air for the first time in my life. It was transformative. And it likely would save our marriage, because, at some point, all that withholding would’ve turned a loving man bitter. On some level I think I’d known that and yet I’d needed my sister to point it out to me and help me change.Sometimes it’s good to have people in your life that know you better than you know yourself.
It pleased Aliena that they were all together: she and Jack and their children, and Jack's mother, and Aliena's brother, and Martha. It was quite like an ordinary family, and Aliena could almost forget that her father had died in a dungeon, and she was legally married to Jack's stepbrother, and Ellen was an outlaw, and—She shook her head. It was no use pretending this was a normal family.
Shame is a powerful feeling. There is a tremendous difference between making a mistake and believing you are a mistake...If I don’t see myself as being a mistake then it is I who must take responsibility and I am not ready to accept that.
Mature adults gravitate toward new values and understandings, not just rehashing and blind acceptance of past patterns and previous learning. This is an ongoing process and maturity demands lifelong learners.
The greater the pain associated with love, the more likely a person is to be attracted to others who will inflict this pain…for isn’t this what love is? Hurt people tend to hurt other people.
If you are looking for love under rocks or bringing home water moccasins, you might be confusing love and pain.
As a parent who raised his children in dysfunction, I know the parental wounds my children received were not intentional; often they were my best expression of love, sometimes coming out sideways, not as I intended.
If we want to improve, first we have to recognize our own maladaptive coping skills, called codependency, then change.
Families living in dysfunction seldom have healthy boundaries. Dysfunctional families have trouble knowing where they stop and others begin.
Under this aura of perfection he knows how flawed he really is but his intact denial system keeps this awareness suppressed in the far recesses of his mind.
Teenagers can spot hypocrisy a mile away and here I was telling them how to cope when they witnessed the shambles of my own life and how I was living.
The key problem I encounter working with wounded, depressed, and unhappy people is a lack of connection…starting from a disconnection from themselves and then with others. This is why love often becomes so distorted and destructive. When people experience a disconnection from themselves, they feel it but do not realize the problem.
You did not invent these family habits. Your family is like mine, for thousands and thousands of years our families have embraced a dysfunctional lifestyle, passing these habits as gospel on to subsequent generations. This was not done out of malice, spite, or hate, but what they knew best. As ineffective as these habits are, you never stopped to consider another way of loving.
No one escapes some degree of chaos for it is so ever prevalent; it is the human experience. This realization does not mean we can’t improve. It does mean we can accept our state of chaos, lighten up on ourselves, have fun, and work on improving…we are a work in progress. Enjoy the journey.
Many of the habits of dysfunctional families use are not from the lack of love but are the result of fear. Knowing the love-limiting habits and behaviors of dysfunctional families is a wonderful beginning to lower the fear, allowing us to be real, allowing us all to learn how to love better.
Society gives the image of sexual violators as weird, ugly, anti-social, alcoholics. Society gives the impression that violators kidnap children are out of their homes and take them to some wooded area and abandon them after the violation. Society gives the impression that everyone hates people who violate children. If all of these myths were true, healing would not be as challenging as it is. Half of our healing is about the actual abuse. The other half is about how survivors fit into society in the face of the myths that people hold in order to make themselves feel safe. The truth is that 80% of childhood sexual abuse is perpetrated by family members. Yet we rarely hear the word “incest”. The word is too ugly and the truth is too scary. Think about what would happen if we ran a campaign to end incest instead of childhood sexual abuse. The number one place that children should know they are safe is in their homes. As it stands, as long as violators keep sexual abuse within the family, the chances of repercussion by anyone is pretty low. Wives won’t leave violating husbands, mothers won’t kick their violating children out of the home, and violating grandparents still get invited to holiday dinners. It is time to start cleaning house. If we stop incest first, then we will strengthen our cause against all sexual abuse.
I explain to my patients that abused children often find it hard to disentangle themselves from their dysfunctional families, whereas children grow away from good, loving parents with far less conflict. After all, isn't that the task of a good parent, to enable the child to leave home?
Attitudes and ignorance” about (any type of) abuse can be passed down through the generations. It is important to our healing that we sort out the belief systems we adopt; belief systems that were taught to us and because they are so full of lies, they lead to all kinds of depressions, addictions and other struggles while we try to cope with the manifestations of the problems instead of the roots of the problems.
The strange part about a person’s lack of trust is that it often comes from not trusting themselves.
A woman in Charlotte approached me and said that she’s tired of the dysfunction in my novels. I told her I was sorry, but that is how the world has presented itself to me throughout my life.
What are humans meant to do, why are we here? Are we a mutation on the earth destroying its host? Are we a cancer destined to kill what supports us? I think not. So exploring this question is a powerful exercise in meaning, what is the meaning of human existence?
It is very difficult to develop a proper sense of self-esteem in a dysfunctional family. Having very little self-worth, looking at one’s own character defects becomes so overwhelming there is no room for inward focus. People so afflicted think: “I need to keep you from knowing me. I have already rejected me, but if you knew how flawed I am, you would also reject me…and since this is all I have, I could not stand any more rejection. I am not worthy of someone understanding me so you will not get the chance...so I must judge, reject, attack, and/or find fault with you. I don’t accept me so how can I accept you?
My mother's mouth drops. 'Emmy...don't say those things Emmy. Remember, we don't talk about those things.''Yes Mom. I remember. That's why I'm here, looking like this.'An orderly knocks on the door and announces that visiting time is over.My mother and I look at each other awkwardly, and hug.'I love you,' she says.'I love you too, Mom.''You aren't telling them too much are you?' she asks, afraid.I sign. 'No Mommy, I'm not.'She's visibly relieved. She leaves the room.The orderley comes back and escorts me back into the main room.I just sit and laugh to myself. (after Emmy's suicide attempt) ~ The Finer Points of Becoming Machine
All people cross the line from childhood to adulthood with a secondhand opinion of who they are. Without any questioning, we take as truth whatever our parents and other influentials have said about us during our childhood, whether these messages are communicated verbally, physically, or silently.
You think you have a handle on God, the Universe, and the Great White Light until you go home for Thanksgiving. In an hour, you realize how far you've got to go and who is the real turkey.