Earlier in my life I was lopped into blame and anger for my dysfunctional family which compelled most of my behaviors up until young adulthood. Until then I committed to living my life meaningfully “in spite” of my family. I felt resentful, sadness and disappointment of what “could” have been, “should” have been and what I was “deprived” of as a young innocent and vulnerable child.
I recognized that I was at the mercy of the adults around me who were supposed to be making thoughtful and responsible decisions on my behalf for my best interest and couldn’t wrap my head around what went awry. Understanding that there wasn’t much that was truly under my control evoked fear, instability and profound loneliness. I wanted to be free of this loop but had a hard time seeing my way out of it.
How could I expect to feel any differently? My parents divorced when I was three, I transitioned in and out of six different elementary schools, experienced two more parental divorces, and had bouts of painful memories that went along with those and other experiences. Once I was able to make decisions more independently and felt empowered, I decided I would see myself as a survivor instead of a victim and live my life meaningfully with gratitude and appreciation for who I am and how my past afforded me with experiences that facilitated my evolution. I felt my past was a subtle gift that strengthened and grounded me.
I vowed not to make similar mistakes I painfully saw my parents make. Because of personally “getting” being lonely, fearful and pseudo-mature and overly responsible, I decided I would use my experiences to benefit myself and others. I shifted to committing to living my life meaningfully because of them and not “in spite” of them.
I have immense gratitude for my upbringing and dysfunctional family and truly appreciate all that I have experienced because it cultivated me into the person I currently am. This is not to say that at times when I get triggered that I don’t feel sad and disappointed about the past, I do and acknowledge and own those feelings. Today I can feel sad while simultaneously feel gratitude and still take action on behalf of who I currently am and who I still want to be. I continually operate by putting my best me forward. To truly heal, I needed to connect with the gratitude I genuinely feel. There are very good reasons to have gratitude for your dysfunctional family.
12 Reasons For Having Gratitude For Your Dysfunctional Family, You:
- Learned by example. You have poignant examples of what you didn’t like and what you don’t want to repeat within your own life;
- Got in touch with anger and resentment earlier on and realize that blame doesn’t create change and action, rather, taking personal responsibility and adapting an action plan is a whole lot more effective for creating personal growth;
- Noticed that you’re more than your past and that it’s part of you but doesn’t define you unless you allow it to;
- Recognized cycles and patterns of behaviors that were destructive and hurtful and recognize that you have the power to put an end to these cycles and patterns in the present and future;
- Got an early education about your coping skills and how they appropriately and effectively served you and how you may still be relying on them even if you no longer need to;
- Realized how it’s counterproductive to compare yourself to others. You see that people you perceived as being better off than you in the past may be compromised now and people who you perceived as being the same or worse off in your past may be successful. That as humans our lives ebb and flow and there’s always room for growth and change;
- Learned deep empathy and compassion for others because of personally understanding human adversity, resilience and the human condition;
- Gained insight on what direction you want to take toward your future, in regard to relationships, career and family choices;
- Discovered your foundational needs and understanding about what your bottom line is. That is, what you absolutely need in your life and what you can do without and leave behind;
- Appreciate how incredibly resilient you are. You went from gravitating between states of confusion and self-blame to a state of enlightenment and relief because you realize that you weren’t ever to blame and couldn’t do any better, in fact, you were just a defenseless kid doing a good job surviving and coping with all that was going on around you;
- Had exposure to imperfect people early in life so you learn to tolerate yours and others imperfections and recognize the difference between imperfect qualities and characteristics that you can live with and those you need to live without, and
- Are a step ahead in understanding how to set appropriate boundaries and assert your needs with others so that you’re empowered, respected and are acting and interacting from a place of personal integrity.
We all define “dysfunction” in our own way and it impacts each of us differently. Whatever the dysfunction is and to whatever extent, letting it have power over you and sustain control over your life is taking away from the life you could be living. Do you want to continue saying, what could have been, what should have been? The time is now, in the present, to live the life you want to be living and being your absolute best you. Each of us deserves that chance.