When I look back on my childhood I often reflect about the kind of people my parents decided to be. Yes, you heard me right, “decided to be”. I don’t give them a break for being who they are- I ACCEPT them and the choices they made choices. But their choices also dictated the course of our relationship and inevitably how I would accept them in my life. The power to choose was a hot topic in counseling school, teaching me the difference between my parents responsibility and my responsibility for the outcome of my life. My ‘AHA!’ moments came together when I realized the stress I endured was caused mostly by the choices I was making. This was happening whether I was aware of it or not. Awareness is key to making choices, once you’re aware you can never be unaware.
My father was narcissistic, abusive and controlling. My mother disconnected and incapable of protecting her children. The kinds of choices they made for the entire family were often reflections of their own dysfunctional childhoods. As adults, they acted like robots programmed to believe whatever was downloaded since birth, their behaviors having gone unchecked, unchallenged, unattended. Soon an toxicity intertwined into the structure of our family causing negatively overgrown patterns like unruly poison oak vines unassumingly hanging from a tree. This was the negative mental jungle they raised us in; an oppressive canopied enclosure hiding others from the darkness they coveted producing lasting confusion, pain and conflict.
Growing up in someone else’s dysfunctional beliefs and patterns was not only suffocating for me as a innocent child but equally as emancipating when I entered adulthood. This was the power of choice. My parents missed out on this empowering fact for themselves and could have stopped the cycle of dysfunction before it hit their own kids. Instead I saw the life they chose to construct, realized it was built by making make certain choices, and they were (and still are) responsible for what they created. We all have the power to choose the way we want to live and treat others, right?
My question to you then is, can you stand behind what you chose?
How To Make Better Choices
My parents effectively modeled how not to listen to myself, how to push away my intuition and instincts, how to lie to myself. They even treated themselves in this manner so these modeled behaviors would trickle down to myself and my siblings forcing us to participate. No questions, no challenging the truth, just obey. Well, life inevitably finds a way. Like a blade of grass shooting its green spearhead through a random crack in the sidewalk, eventually my spirit called to be recognized. The point of emaciation came from making the choice to acknowledge it. “You can never find yourself until you face the truth” I read in a book one time. Those words drove themselves deep into my consciousness waking up a surge of emotions that I couldn’t control. I found myself writhing with excitement and fear not knowing why, but knowing that the idea of never finding myself felt like a death sentence. So, I set out to find the truth.
You may come to a place someday that in spite of what others have done you’ll begin to care about the choices you’re making right now about your life. As a result you may decide whether these choices are truly working for you. If the choices you’ve made are not working, then the power of choice to change is yours. I am giving you permission right now to accept that you have that right. There’s a chance you may bump up against longstanding issues again, or even get completely immersed and entangled in them for awhile, but there’s always a way out of the darkness. Always.
As a counselor I help others to see that they have a choice. Even when they get stuck I continue to guide them through the darkness they’ve been existing in so they can find the light they need to grow. I have walked this path through the dark already so I know where the 'poisonous vines' lay and how they camouflage themselves in the thicket of thinking patterns. If the light of reality has been calling you I can show you how to create a life you always wanted no matter how dark your previous life was. I can assist you to find your truth and stay in your truth. In closing here’s a favorite popular quote to reflect on. May you choose to turn on the light whereever and whenever you need too.
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light” - Albus Dumbledore, The Harry Potter book series