In this edition we are going to take a look at the many facets of what it’s like to have grown up in a family with mental health, substance abuse, and trauma. In my experience, everyone has a story that is worthwhile to hear, and we often learn from each other’s stories. No one’s story is too small.
As clinician, at points we can fall prey to “wound comparison”. Wound comparison is where we compare ourselves to the stories and the pain of other people. We use this as a way to minimize or maximize our story and our pain. This is a distraction away from our healing work. Our job is not to compare. We know that other people have terrible things that have happened in their lives, yet if somebody having it worse erases your story, there’s nowhere for you to go. You don’t want to erase your story.
Sometimes we don’t want to turn back. We think my childhood is good. And I get that. For one, it can be hard to turn back. What are we going to find if I open Pandora’s box? Two, people may like the relationship that they’ve been able to create with their family and they don’t want to disrupt it. And three, it may be that someone in their family is deceased, and they don’t want to change the image they hold of them. Sometimes we idealize or sometimes we just don’t even have the memory because our way of protecting ourselves is to not hold the memory itself.
Being curious about our story, about our childhood, is not a push for people. People can always set that boundary and say, “I’m not going to go there.” That’s okay. There are plenty of therapeutic practices that are focused on just changing behavior. Yet if you keep trying to change your behavior and if you keep finding yourself back in the same pattern, of reporting, not repairing, then I invite you to journey to your past curiously. As you your view of your past and the people in it may have been protective mechanism you developed back then may not be what you need now. For example blaming the past may keep you in a victim stance and while there may of been negative experiences to integrate them into your being you must grieve your losses, work through the hurt, sorrow, and rage — and move on.
Do let me know what you think of the articles and do share: what it is that you most wanted as a child and did not get?