Over the course of our lifetime all four siblings in my family have had an opportunity to explore the wreckage of our past. Each of us have reached various conclusions about our family system of origin – not all of them are in sync. Most of us experienced seismic changes in our understanding of our childhoods as a result of self-reflection. One of my brothers believed that our childhood was one adventure after another – he had to wrestle with his idealism. It was not all fun and games but he had forgotten chunks of life at our house.
I experienced my childhood as traumatic in ways that defined me and encoded all my memories as such. But when we found some old family movies that recorded happier times, I had to rethink my perspective. I remembered these times once they showed up on film. I realized that my memories were skewed; I needed to re-remember. It was NOT all trauma.
The only reason any of us entered therapy, treatment and/or recovery was because we were forced to admit that our adulting was not working. We were wrecking things all on our own without any help from others – thank you very much. It took intervention and outside resources for us to stop the insanity of living with great certainty and few insights about our lives. We had grown up but not through our past. The baggage of our youth was cluttering up the floor of our adulthood and we kept tripping over it. Something had to give! Recovery asks us to believe that God has the power to restore us to sanity – we can learn how to stop thinking, feeling and doing the same things over and over that keeping resulting in negative results.
My family and I did not end up with the same assessments of our collective growing up experiences. But each of us did what we have both the right and responsibility to do: We are living our lives in the way we believe best fits our core values. It is not easy; it is not without conflict. But it is what families do!