Everyone is Broken in Some Way
Everyone is broken in some way. What matters isn’t how broken a person is, or even what broke them, but how they choose to go on with their lives, and whether they choose to embrace the brokenness, fight it, or allow themselves to be weakened by it.
There’s no way to avoid it. If you’re alive and human, you’re going to suffer trauma at some point in your life. Some, but not many manage to avoid it until they reach adulthood. Most people experience some kind of life-changing event during childhood.
It might be the death of a family member or pet, or something more insidious like emotional or physical abuse. No matter what it is, natural coping mechanisms engage and alter your path in some way. There’s always a lesson, not only in the event, but in how you choose to cope with it. And there are scars.
The Residue of Coping Mechanisms
Depending on the number and degree of traumas, and the methods at your disposal for coping, you might well reach adulthood with a thick layer of scars around your psyche. In most cases, you’re unaware those scars exist, or how much you’re using them to hide the true, vulnerable, authentic person you were meant to be.
I was one who reached adulthood with a thick wall of scars, little realizing the traumas I’d coped with in my juvenile, naive way. I watched the adults around me, mistook emotional abuse for love, and saw feelings buried because in our family, showing any kind of emotion was highly discouraged. In fact, if I wanted to experience expressions of what passed for love, I kept my feelings deeply hidden.
Unfortunately, I learned much later in life that I’m an Empath, and hiding my feelings is like cutting off a limb. My lack of success as a child and teenager earned me my mother’s expressions of displeasure over everything I said and did, and my dad’s emotional abuse. Yet for years, I believed what he was doing was the normal way to show love.
Cleaning Up the Mess After Coping With Trauma
One thing I learned was when you use coping mechanisms to deal with trauma; whether recognized or not, you develop an extremely dysfunctional view of the world, and of love in particular. I grew up believing that if someone loved you, they showed it by being abusive. Not physically in my family’s case, but emotionally, which frankly, causes much deeper scars that are harder to exhume and heal. I was in my 60’s with my dad long-dead before I was able to see his teasing and put-downs for the cruelty they were, and to finally express the anger and hurt I’d buried deep beneath my scars.
Needless to say, the men I attracted over the years were broken in their own way, and were abusive in their expressions of love. Like my family, they weren’t typically physically abusive. I never nursed a visible bruise or a broken limb. The damage they did was purely internal, in a place where no one ever visited. The worst part was, I wasn’t able to appreciate a love that wasn’t based on some kind of abuse. As I look back on my college years, I ended things with a couple of really nice, kind men because the kind of love they offered wasn’t something I recognized or responded to.
By my mid-40’s I stopped looking for love in all the wrong places. I recognized I didn’t know how to find it in the right ones, and took what would be the first step towards ending a lifetime of abusive love based on cruelty and undermining my self-esteem. I took a good, hard look at myself, flaws and all, and realized I had a lot of great qualities, but self-confidence wasn’t one of them.
Healing Old Wounds Isn’t For the Weak of Heart
Setting out to rectify the problem, I allowed myself to pick at those old scars, and embark on the incredibly painful process of tearing down decades-old walls to expose the raw, unhealed wounds they’d hidden but not protected. I learned I had to relive the pain before those wounds would heal, and frankly, had I known what I was in for, I might have chosen to leave well enough alone. Not that it would have been the better option, but it would have caused me a lot less pain in the short run.
Layer by layer, I’ve peeled away my barriers; to life, to love, and to connection. I’ve learned when you love someone you show it with kindness; with supportiveness. You build them up rather than tearing them down. You’re a non-judgemental sounding board, but you don’t sugar coat the truth either. Along the way, I’ve learned not to illuminate peoples’ pain points with sarcasm and ill-placed teasing.
Learning to Love the Healthy Way
Years into my tearing down and rebuilding process, I finally realized how badly my dad had treated me, and how eagerly I’d lapped up his distorted form of affection because I was so desperate to be loved. It affected the men I attracted, and the ones I chose to allow into my life for more than a minute. It made me toss away a couple of good ones too, but I know the women they ultimately found treat them better than I was, at the time, able. I’m glad they didn’t wait around to see if I’d figure it out. Without all the trauma I’ve been through, I never would have.
Now, I’ve spent hours venting my spleen about the way my dad treated me, and ultimately realized he acted as he was taught, and in all likelihood, to mask his own pain too. I’ve forgiven him his inability to love me properly, and found compassion for all he was never able to experience himself. Above all, I count myself lucky I was able to figure out how wrong; how destructive my family’s concept of love really was, and make changes in my life.
I’m most grateful I learned to be a more loving, supportive parent and friend for my daughter. When I do tease her now, it’s typically over something that made us laugh, rather than something she’s sensitive about. We have enough inside jokes and clumsiness between us to fill a book or ten, so there’s plenty of material without bringing cruelty into the mix.
In recent years, I’ve come to the conclusion one of my purposes is to break old family patterns. I am glad this is one that will end with me. Future generations won’t have to grow up with a wall of scars and a boat load of unhealed wounds.
Using Gratitude to Heal
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the family who raised me to realize their way wasn’t necessarily the right way.
- I’m grateful for the old wounds I’m slowly healing; properly this time.
- I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve formed since I stopped following the family patterns that made me a broken, unhappy woman.
- I’m grateful for the people who’ve shown me kindness instead of cruelty, even when I didn’t think I was worthy.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, joy, kindness, compassion, connection, vulnerability, peace, harmony, balance, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward