‘My dad would beat me up and tie me to the bed post.’
‘My mother never let me go out with friends because she felt they were not right for me.’
‘My father never had confidence in me.’
‘My parents forced me into this marriage.’
‘Both my mom and dad knew about the abuse I was undergoing, but they didn’t want to lose face in the society. So they did nothing.’
I get clients who had a difficult childhood. Some of them grew with parents who constantly fought with each other, some of them had an over-protective single parent, some of them had very strict parents, and some of them were with parents who hardly acknowledged their presence.
In many ways each of us had trouble with our parents and hated them on more than one occasion. Most of us learn to cope and a very few actually resolve their issues with them. But for some of the clients the childhood would be so bad that they would carry the scars into their adult lives very badly.
Excuse to Ruin Your Life Further
These people blame their parents for their lives being a mess today. They carry the pain and guilt and it practically ruins their lives. Over a period of time this becomes a good excuse to shirk responsibility and avoid facing their fears. It is the new comfort zone – ‘our shell’ so to speak.
Then from a genuine anger it turns into a defence mechanism born out of frustration. After parents they start unconsciously choosing other replacements to blame their frustrations and failures upon.
The Present Is Not the Past
It may be true that they had been through severely traumatic past. But the truth is that such clients have chosen to cling to the past. This is a point where most healing comes to a standstill. In fact this is where most of our lives come to a standstill itself. We have put our present and future on a pause interminably.
No matter how painful the past may have been, choosing to make the best of the present is the only solution. If we can understand that past may have been the time when we were helpless but present is all ours, we can find it easy to realize we are not that helpless afterall. The past never haunts us, we cling to the past for various reasons.
Process of Letting Go
Of course only way to move on is to let go. That means not only letting go of the pains of the past but, more importantly, letting go of past resentments and regrets.
I’ve often seen that resentment, regret, and guilt are the biggest blocks to healing and all progress.
And with clients who are not willing to let go or, in some cases, not even willing to acknowledge they are clinging to the past, all we do is end the therapy for good. We have no choice. The choice rests with the person who is carrying the past.
Adult Is Not A Child
Obvious isn’t. Yet we do not apply it most of the time.
Yes, parents may have been responsible for your low self-opinion in your early childhood. But you are not that child anymore. The truth is that if you are old enough to realize the mistake lies with your parents in your childhood, you are also old enough to understand the mistake now lies with you in choosing to wear the past like a jacket around you.
We all have a choice to make – we can either acknowledge that we are not as bad as we think we are (and nor is our situation) and let go of the past, or we can hang on to live in the past and continue to drive our life in a downward spiral hoping to get our parents to regret and repent their mistakes.
Parents Need To Realize or Suffer
In order to impress upon the parents their suffering, some of us go to the extreme of hurting ourselves and our lives.
A simple understanding here makes it easy to choose the healing path. The person facing the problem today is not the parents but you. The life at stake is not the parents’ but yours.
And the more we try to push our parents to realize the truth through our suffering, the more we are abusing ourselves. It actually has an opposite effect too. It only strengthens parent’s negative viewpoint about us.
Nobody Understands Me
Yes, nobody can, nobody will. And for this precise reason, only we can change our lives.
Suffering is there to tell us we are going the wrong way and need to change our ways. It is not there to tell us to change the world.
Unless they are ready to let go of the past, people who blame their parents, cannot find happiness or satisfaction in life. They think they are willing to sacrifice the happiness too, but the truth is they haven’t. Their lives are caught between trying to punish themselves or their parents and trying to find happiness and peace. The two goals are mutually exclusive. It just gives rise to a traumatic existence and a miserable future.
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