In college, I took a psychology class that required we keep and maintain a journal. I had forgotten about this precious gem until I located it while cleaning out some boxes at my parents’ house last year. I, again, forgot about it until I recently started looking through the stuff, I had brought back with me from that trip.
Some of the things in this journal make me sad for the twenty-one-year girl I once was. I was dating an absolute jerk at the time I wrote in this journal. Someone who showed little interest in my well-being or ever did care about me. This relationship was torturous for me, but I stayed in it because I did not know any better and really wanted someone to love me. I wanted them to love the twenty-one-year-old version of myself, which was difficult to do because I had a lot of trauma that I had to work through to love myself, therefore allowing someone else to love me. Not to mention, he had to process through his trauma and grow up as well. It was a recipe for disaster.
The following excerpt is from an entry dated April 2006:
“Be Strong: I had a pretty rough, but good childhood. The things that I had to endure during those years made me realize that I had to be strong. I shouldn’t let anything affect me too much. You have to take what is given to you and roll with it. Don’t give up . . . I wasn’t raised to be weak, and I haven’t lived for 21 years just to fall and stay there laying in sadness and give up. No, I will not give into pain and sorrow . . . I dislike being sad, mad, and cry all the time. I am so looking forward to my tomorrows. Life will only begin to get better now, and I will be happy once again.”
I am assuming that I wrote this after breaking up with the guy I was dating at the time. I think this entry was a way to remind myself of the things that I had survived as a child and to remind myself of that fierce chick I was.
Most importantly, when I read this entry, I realize how fractured I was as a human being. I was uncomfortable processing my emotions, so rather than give myself permission to feel anything, I convinced myself to drown them out. I see it in my pep talk to myself, “you have to take what is given to you and roll with it.”
Yes, we should roll with the ups and the of life. Without the bad, we cannot appreciate the good parts, but I read this and understand that I was just telling myself to accept the unkindness I was receiving and drown it out. By drowning it out, I was drowning my pain, which led to a world of destruction and future unhealthy relationships.
I was not raised to process my emotions. I was raised to get over it and move forward. The concept of getting over it made it easier on my parents who were dealing with their own trauma. No, I did not have a terrible upbringing, I had a similar upbringing to most of my peers.
Our generation was raised to be tough. If we cried about our problems, we were baby criers and seen as “weak.” To avoid further trauma, a lot of us sucked it up and carried the pain into our adulthood. We rage partied, dated unhealthy people, had poor judgment when it came to friends. We further traumatized ourselves by forcing ourselves to “suck it up and get over it.” The reality is that a lot of us are still not processing and still causing more pain than love in our lives. I am guilty of still sucking it up and not processing my feelings at times. Old habits die hard.
The concept of being tough was instilled in us in a way to keep us silent. If we did not complain or call out the people who hurt us, they could not be held accountable. In my opinion, it was emotional and psychological abuse. We were raised to believe that if a boy pulled our hair on the playground, he liked you. He liked you? Rather than tell Timmy not to hurt you, he was raised to hurt you and not give a fuck. The bully was just a hurt person and rather than intervene and give them access to behavioral counseling, they were allowed to perpetuate their abuse and spread it like wildfire on the playground. Are you kidding me?
It’s in reflection we can see the themes of abuse in our lives. The bully, the boy that likes you, it’s the mean girl you remain friends with out of fear of her rath. We start developing coping mechanisms as children for survival and the sad truth is that we continue to build and shield ourselves from the world. There is a reason a lot of us do not trust one another. It is the lack of not knowing how to hold people accountable.
If you were silenced as a child and were essentially taught that your parent’s feelings were more important than your own, you are most likely a people pleaser. You strive for the love and affirmation of people at the cost of your own sanity and feelings. You were never given permission to speak up and out against the people who wronged you. You have lived in frustration and pain and probably feel unseen or unheard.
If you were born in a household where there was substance abuse, you are probably angry as hell and misunderstood. You mask your pain with anger and trust no one. You have friends but know they too will abandon you. We operate on rejection and are always waiting for a bomb to drop. We thrive in chaos because we were born in it.
Both scenarios are examples of abuse. These cycles of abuse are more prevalent in our lives than we choose to accept and acknowledge. Abuse is not only something you can see, but also psychological and emotional. We are more than just products of our environments. We can choose to break those cycles and begin to heal ourselves by identifying our triggers and processing the deep-rooted pain to live a happier enriched life.
You may not be able to see my scars, but in reading my journal entries, I am reminded of the pain I suffered. I can reflect more and heal the wounds of that lost twenty-one-year-old girl who felt she had to hide her pain.
I look forward to sharing more entries and heal those old wounds with love and compassion.