The other night, I was on Reddit, and I saw a post that really hit home for me.
The headline was “it all happened because your abusers don’t accept their own trauma.
And that’s a good enough reason for you to accept your own trauma.”
It was short, it was simple…but damn, did it really strike a cord for me. I mean, if you really think about it…how much truth is there to that? And if you want to talk about repeating the cycle throughout generations…I mean…that’s it. That’s why.
Let’s look at my own parents. Honestly, I don’t know a ton about how their lives and their childhoods made them “feel”, but I do know what it was like living (being trapped) in the same house as my sister. Aside from anything else, that was abuse, and that was trauma. For all of us.
While I was the victim of my sisters constant abuse, so were my parents. What they went through with her was traumatic for them. It was for me. It would have been for anyone. But they always denied it. Denied the problem, denied the pain she caused, denied that she was even sick, and constantly downplayed it. They never told me she was sick and mentally ill until I was much older, at least in late elementary school. I spent my entire early childhood truly believing the horrible things she said to and about me.
Everything is my fault. I’m the problem. They loved her until I was born, until I came around and ruined everything. If she kills herself, it’s because of me.
I didn’t know this, but last year, my brother came to therapy with me and we talked a bit about my sister. She was older than me by 9 years, and my brother, the middle child, was older than me by 6.
One of the things that my brother said he remembered was that one day, my sister came up to me and told me that she was going to kill herself and make sure she did it where I would be the one to find her body. She said that to me. I was maybe 5 years old. She would also cut in front of me and blame it on me.
My parents did not accept their trauma. And they certainly do not accept mine. Still, to this day, they want to act like it was all fine. Like it wasn’t that bad, wasn’t that big of a deal. But it was. I was tortured every single day of my life growing up. I was terrified, I was trapped, I was frozen in fear. Every. Single. Day.
Not only did they deny it, but they also blamed me for it. I shouldn’t have instigated. Or, I shouldn’t have defended myself, I shouldn’t have said anything. I should have known better. They wanted me to lay down and die. They told me to accept it. And if I ever did defend myself or say anything back to her….ohhh boy, did shit hit the fan.
My parents denial of the impact this had on me set my entire life up to downplay the very real trauma that I endured. Just like they did for themselves, I’m sure.
But what happens when someone downplays ands denies the VERY real, valid and horrific trauma and abuse that they went through? Isn’t that how it gets passed on? Isn’t that means to justify the behavior?
If it “wasn’t traumatic”, if it was “fine, not a big deal”…what’s to stop you from portraying and acting out those same behaviors?
I would be horrified and disgusted if someone behaved and exposed to my children the same things that I had to experience. And by me denying my pain and my trauma, I’m almost allowing the cycle to continue. If it was acceptable for me, what’s to stop it from being acceptable for them?
But it isn’t acceptable for them. There isn’t a single part of me that thinks that what happened to me, any of it, is acceptable for my kids to experience. And if it is absolutely not okay for them, why was it for me?
If you want the cycle to stop, if you don’t want to continue down the same bad path, I think the first step really is to accept your trauma. What happened wasn’t okay. And it was trauma. Accepting that, acknowledging that…it’s the first step towards healing.
What happened to me was made so much worse by the denial of trauma by others. Maybe, had they just accepted it for themselves, things could have been better for me. Maybe I wouldn’t gotten the help I needed and asked for, instead of being punished for needing help and support.
And maybe if the the men in my life had accepted their trauma and gotten the help for it, they wouldn’t have raped me. Maybe they wouldn’t have hurt me, and left me with scars that would never heal.
If someone is in denial of their pain, that pain can only go inward or outward in the form of harming themself or others. So we have to start dealing with that pain in a more healthy way.
If we tell ourselves that our “traumatic events were normal or good,” then why wouldn’t we behave that way, since it’s a normal or a good thing? We have to do better.
I have to do better. And that starts with accepting ourselves, and accepting our trauma.
What happened in my life wasn’t okay. None of it was. My childhood, my sister, abuse from men…all of it. It wasn’t my fault, and I didn’t deserve it.
No one deserves it.
And at the very least, I owe it to my kids to break the cycle. In absolutely every way possible.