Many of us grew up in houses that were filled with dreams, dysfunction and dictators. We were told who we were, what we liked and disliked, what to do, say, think and feel… sometimes in loving ways, sometimes not. There were expectations around our role in the family, what our lives would look like, and of course our worth. There were acceptable choices and then there was wearing fringe. Parenting, I think, is the most difficult task someone can undertake. Allowing your child to be who they are and embracing them while teaching them the rules of the road is a tightrope act in a fat man’s suit, at best. Many parents are thoughtful in their approach, and I like to think they all try their hardest. That being said, some of our houses were not always the nicest or safest places to be. Our families of origin were bat-bite crazy so we packed our baggage and headed down the road.
For me, being raised by wolves did not and does not give me license to inflict my crazy on others, since the age of 25. That is the age when I figured out who I was and what I had been told about myself did not quite match. When I see adults blame their rough childhood for their current bad behavior I think, “huh, you’re really choosing to let the legacy that you were handed, the one that doesn’t fit, be your life’s work? Yikes… All that is needed to start the undoing of the doing of a childhood can be achieved with honest self-reflection, a journal, therapy, one smart friend, workshops, a trip to the library, or a book purchase to find your way. When someone tells me they have a friend that had a “normal” childhood it makes me think that this is a person they do not know very well. Normal is fiction, TV & movies; it’s scripted, flat and very beige. Normal is about as interesting as “perfect”, neither is an achievable state, much less someone you want to sit next to at a wedding.
We might have gotten lovely stories and rituals in our homes as well as the bad ones. If those rituals and stories feed us, ring true and help us to grow, we can choose to embrace them. Nothing and nobody is all bad, not even the Kardashians. The challenge is to grow past where you started, try new things on, believe new things that might be true about who you are and what you are good at. They might fly in the face of what you were led to believe as a child. That is okay, someone was flinging some serious stuff back then and some of it got on your face… wipe it off and move on.
Our homes are the Start in the game of life, we grow, learn and change based on stimulus as we move forward. Growing up, I was taught to believe that if I were to ask for what I needed I was difficult, inconvenient or needy. When I was no longer being told that my anger, disappointment or bad mood made me unlovable, I did not let those negative emotions surface for decades. Even though I was out of that house and an adult, I continued living the lies I was told about who I was, whittling away my worth by not questioning the old stories born out of ignorance. Everyone at some point was loved by a dictator and then we became adults and chose them for our friends, lovers, and bosses and continued with those old stories of who we were because it was what we believed to be true. The saddest part is I was the biggest dictator of all, renewing my subscription to “You Unlovable, Needy Bitch” daily. We put on the beliefs of our childhood, like an old coat that no longer fits, but we cannot part with. When we do this we are like snails dragging around our old home because it shows people who we are. Those childhood stories are like the snail’s shell. That “home” doesn’t define us, much less fit, so wearing it perched on our head like a bad party hat we’ve continued to wear long after the event is just celebrating being stuck.