Normally, when I start a post, I know what I want to say and how I want to say it before beginning. That is not the case here. Perhaps it is because it is a difficult topic to me, or that I have so much I think I want to say that I can't figure out just what I should say. So I have decided to just start typing, and post whatever comes out right now.
In Part 1 of this series, I mentioned the emotionally abusive nature of my brother. Something that is never considered when you are a victim of any kind of abuse, is that you have a propensity to do what happened to you. Abused children may become violent, the sexually abused can become the abusers, and on, and on. As someone who grew up in a house with abuse in it, I was subjected to emotional abuse, but it hasn't been until recently (I'm almost 30) that I realized it even was abuse. How did this kind of a childhood make me a different person today?
Detachment for Survival
As someone who experience emotional abuse, I realize that the abusers use your own emotions to control you. As long as you continue to react to them, and display these emotions, they are able to continue to control you. This is dangerous in a family setting, because how is someone supposed to remove themselves from what appears to be a loving and supportive family setting at a young age? Emotions that were stirred in me were anger, guilt, insignificance, and selfishness. Even though I did not understand why I was made to feel this way, or how I could be called any of these, I believed them and I reacted, because it was family telling me this. It wasn't until I began to detach from these emotions and refused to react that I began to see the frustration in my brother. The less I said, and the less I gave them (the more apathetic I appeared), the more i was able to ignore their attempts at controlling me through my emotions.
What this Means, is that by high school, I was increasingly becoming detached from my emotions. Instead of going through them in order to understand them, I pushed them down and ignored them, which anyone will tell you is not a healthy thing to do. I became someone who did not delve deep into my own or others' emotions, and only went as deep as the surface; I became superficial. I did not have relationships that went very deep, and I did not, nor did I know how to, invest into other people.
Me Now... What's Changed?
The only way I have been able to come to these realizations about myself, is because I have been blessed to have someone come into my life who has turned me around completely. My wife has been a catalyst for personal change (which is possibly the topic I will address next). Her example and encouragement coupled with the unconditional love of my children has created a childhood for them that I can enjoy in spite of the one from my own memory. I get to become the father that is engaged, and loving, and encouraging, and I get to be a parent who actually encourages love among siblings rather than competition and a chain-of-command. I get to share in the new memories that we are creating, and let to past remain in the past. This reality means that the emotional abuse I dealt with will not be passed on to my children, and will not be passed onto theirs. The cycle of manipulation and control has ended, and the more i grow as a husband and father, the less I understand why I had the childhood I did.