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March 2, 2012

Changing Perspectives

Life has its ups and downs. It is inevitable and unavoidable. Some people go through life weathering incredible storms and could survive or even thriving through it all -- leaving many of us in awe of their strength and courage. There are some who reaches amazing highs in life only to get knocked down and never get back up again. There are also others whose lives are mundane that experiencing the smallest bump on the road would ruffle their feathers and push them over the edge.

My childhood was not an easy one. Growing up in an abusive household definitely has marked me as damaged goods. Those who have learned the extent of physical abuse I endured often comment on how "normal" I seem. No matter how many times I have heard it, I am always taken back by such comment, . Although I am certain that people who make those remarks have the best intentions in mind, I wonder if they think that somehow appearing "normal" from the outside means that I have dealt with the psychological impact that it had on me.  After so many years, I might appear "normal" from the outside, but the emotional scars are permanent. Because of my abusive upbringing, I consciously and constantly remind myself not be a part of that vicious cycle and repeat what I was forced to grow up with. I am quick to disassociate myself from people who harm me and I do not hesitate to cut off all ties with them. I am far from being "normal." My defense mechanism is always on overdrive. I don't trust people easily. And when I feel like someone has betrayed my trust, I don't just walk away from the relationship, I run from it. So, you see, I am far from being "normal." Even I realized that the way I feel about people is deeply impacted by my childhood.

I am not one of those people who weather through life's storm gracefully. I would only call myself a survivor in the sense that one of most basic human instincts is the desire be alive. I vividly remember during some of the most horrible beatings, my only thought was that eventually the beatings would stop because the day was coming to an end. I am not courageous nor am I strong, I am still picking up the pieces and trying to put myself together. Having grown up in such an unstable home (if you grew up in an abusive home, I am sure you know what I mean; I never knew what was going to trigger the next beating and how much time would pass between each one), I always had strong desire for a mundane life. I am lucky that I have that now (I feel like this is where I should say that one should be careful of what they wish for because you might just end up with it, but I am actually truly glad that I live such an ordinary life as a wife and a mother of two.

A low point in my day might be dealing with 2 screaming kids or battling my daughter on what's appropriate for her to wear to school (no, we are not going to wearing a summer dress when it is 50 degrees out). I am glad that my life only has small bumps that I am able to resolve and tackle swiftly. Though, recently, I experienced a slightly larger road bump than the typical ones I get from my kids. It was one that ended a friendship. My issue was not with the death of a friendship-- admittedly, I knew it was best for all parties involved that we ceased all contacts with one another. My issue was with how I was treated. The lack of respect and the nasty comments from the other party ruffled my feathers. In fact, so much so that I am ready to shoved all the feathers down the person's throat (figuratively speaking, of course). This was when I thought to myself, "This is insane, considering all you have gone through, why are you so bothered by a small bump in your mundane life?" 

I thought about this a lot in the past couple of days, and I realized a couple of things about myself. No matter how mundane my life is, the emotional and psychological pain from my childhood is cut so deep that they really do affect every aspect of my life, thoughts and actions. No matter how small the betrayal is, regardless of how insignificant or untrue the comment is, they all bring me right back to that a small, lost little girl inside of me that needs the adult version of me to protect.

Today, my friend Stephanie shared a quote with me (by the way, she is absolutely amazing! Hands down, one of the most beautiful souls I have ever met in my life). The quote is " At any given moment, you have the power to say that this is not how the story is going to end." She said, "When something bad happens, you have three choices: You can let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you." Through this little bump on the road, I had the chance to self reflect and I also learned something new.

I am going to teach this to my kids: face the challenges in life and fight back with all you have, learn and grow from them. Do not allow them to define who you are or the path you take in life. Do not allow them to destroy your self-esteem, self-worth, your passion, or your family. Instead of seeing these challenges as something negative, I want my kids to looking at them from a new perspective. I hope that they will welcome all surprises that life throws at them, embrace changes and understand that there's beautiful rainbows following unpleasant storms. This is something I need to work on within myself too. I am going to be more positive. I am going to welcome challenges. I am going to surround myself with those who inspire me to be better. I am going to work on myself to show my kids that it is possible to embrace everything life has to offer --  the good, the bad and the ugly.


Lee said...

Dear Jennifer,I share your childhood memories.I had sexual,mental and physical abuse from my stepfather.I like you knew one day it would stop. As they say, God doesn't give you more than you can handle.To me thats kind of questionable (LOL).When a wonderful lady I knew as a child found out she had cancer she told me to ALWAYS find something FUNNY in everything no matter how bad it is at the time or you'll go crazy.She also said bad things aren't forever. That things are less hurtful with each passing day.This wonderful lady died 4 weeks later and she never told any of her family she was dying, just me her friend.I was 14 yrs old when she told me this and everytime something bad happens to me I remember what she told me.I'm 65yrs old and after 51 yrs she is still helping me through rough times.I'm very proud of you for sharing today your deepest thoughts.It's hard to share when you've been deeply hurt.It takes a lot for me to let someone into my heart and my trust.Look in the mirror everyday and Laugh .Love youself..Think about something funny and Laugh. Like everything is better on a Ritz Cracker,well everything is better with a LAUGH.

Beth R said...

You are definitely an inspiration. I have never went through anything in my childhood like you had to endure, but it is amazing that you are changing the cycle and instilling in your own children a sense of self worth, character, and an ability to stand up for themselves. I am sure that although they might not appreciate everything you are teaching them now, they will look back and feel blessed to have a mother who demonstrates what strength and resilency is all about. And I have had to end a friendship recently as well because of the poison it was bringing into my life. You are better off :)

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