Recently I have had many conversations about stagnation, self-doubt and struggle. One thing I didn’t expect was the common cause of the situation; I mention it in a moment. Remember what I said about setting the stage at home for potential radicalisation? Let me take it a little further.
Home is meant to be the place of building, encouraging, mentorship that will raise a solid individual for life. Yet there’s no perfect home because homes are made up of humans creating life and doing the best they can with the skills they have. So imagine a person raised in an abusive home unaware of the impact and having built in the mechanisms to cope joining with another similarly crippled. What kind of environment could develop? Contrast with one raised in a stable loving home. How different would this home be? Now find these two together, building a home…I won’t even go there.
Many of us were unwittingly exposed to extreme situations at home and we acquire certain behaviours as we grow up based on this. An abusive parent creates an atmosphere of fear, doubt, anger and hurt with no possible solution and outlet. An absent parent creates a gap in training and connection leading to confusion, hurt, anger and pain. An overbearing parent creates a sense of uncertainty and the inability to decide.
The common result is…Pain…lots of pain.
Ongoing conversations around me have uncovered insane levels of pain covered up in low self-esteem, self-hatred, demanding behaviour, a sense of entitlement, anger, lashing out, withdrawal, silence, mood swings, binge behaviours, outward conformity, ‘obedience’, and a plethora of other things. We learn early to appear to be what is expected of us regardless of how we feel until we are outside the situation and are able to become ourselves.
Have you ever wondered why people ‘change’ when they leave home or get that dream job or get married or leave the country? Well, often once we are out of the environment that makes us feel the pressure. What we don’t realise is that the pain is still there in the background, undercover, hidden until we get to a trigger situation and it comes out like a full on explosion breaking through the veneer of calm and goodness.
A recent conversation has me looking back at my own journey with pain.
I lived under the spotlight of the Christian community, active in church, engaged in ministry and loving it all the way. Our home had an open door policy and so many people were in or out. I was a stellar student until high school and on the surface it was all good. The truth is different because I was struggling but had learnt the skill of masking and covering.
Different situations created pressure, hurt and anger that was simply put aside after prayer assuming it would go away. Intense emotions were shoved into the background because I believed that when you walk with God pain is not my portion and so it will just disapper…poof. The pain of broken relationships, disappointment, personal failings and societal expectations became the press that would in time break my external shell and me.
One day in my adult life, it all crashed and I wept for days then walked through it for months.
The pain was so deep and being one who didn’t cry it was the most insane feeling ever. It has taken a lot of deliberate daily dealing to remain in balance including walking away but these had to be learned. Looking back was almost impossible because it was dark and bleak but I knew I had to and I knew that was the way to healing.
I couldn’t reach out to many people for help because I was a pillar in my community and most couldn’t deal with this struggling side. Finally, my can do personality and strong exterior was the perfect deterrent for questions. My saving grace was the love of a Father, medication, the ability to journal, a form of prayer and psychology knowledge gained from reading my mother’s books since I was twelve. Story for another day!!!
So what about those who don’t have access to information and the services needed to deal? What happens in families who believe that certain behaviour or traits like anger are part of their genetic makeup yet it is a learnt pattern of dealing with it? What happens to the young man who is struggling with a sense of failure who takes it out on a weaker person? Does he find peace? What of the woman who finally explodes after years of abuse, picks the knife and stabs her man? Does jail or the death penalty really help her?
Pain is part of our fabric and we need to deal with it carefully.
Pain fundamentally changes who we are and will keep affecting us until we deal with it. Pain can cause individuals to do seemingly unconventional things. Despite how difficult, dealing with pain is the best way to come to terms with our past, accept the things we cannot change and make the choice to be different and thrive in the present and future.
Some of my children are wounded deeply. The pain is driving them nearly insane and they don’t know how to deal. Asking them to track the pain leads to deep sighs because it will hurt like crazy to do so and many walk way. Some take out their anger on God, others on life, others on family and even others on themselves. Some, very few, are choosing to deal with the pain, one breath, look, tear, scream, conversation, hope and dream at a time.
Just like me, there have been and will be instances of breakdowns, some private and some very public, that though embarrassing, are the key to resolution. As I look at my young ones, I realise that we all must deal with our pasts and the behaviour that is affecting others. Each one must see how their upbringing has affected them and is affecting their present.