Hurt People, Hurt People
How to Stop the Hurt in its Tracks.
Hurt people, hurt people. And that can get to be repetitive through generation after generation. If you recognize this statement, STOP! Ask yourself if you have addressed this in your life? If you answer yes, STOP! And ask yourself again if that answer is true?
I grew up in an emotionally negligent household, though it wasn’t genetic as I was adopted. My adoptive parents simply had no idea how to love! My mother had had TB as a small child, spent her early years in hospital. She grew up in central Birmingham, so would have been in a hospital bed during the Birmingham Blitz of the Second World War. The trauma she experienced in those early years would have been immense.
My father had a violent childhood, brought up in the North Midlands in Rural Redditch, he was barely literate. At 15, having witnessed a nasty beating dealt out to his mother, my father hid in the garden and confronted his father as he left the house for the pub! There were fisticuffs and his father never went back to the house.
These were the people that adopted me aged nearly two. I guess I was pretty traumatized myself, having been placed in care at 6 months, fostered in one family until the adoption. I just don’t think my adoptive parents knew how to be parental! How could they?
You can stop the hurt and the pain of emotional neglect.
First, you need to recognize it in yourself, here are some symptoms:
· Feeling numb or hollow inside
· Feeling different or disassociated from others
· Low self-esteem, easily discouraged from succeeding at things
· A perfectionist that is hard yourself if you feel you are failing
· Huge emotional response to rejection
“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance” Nathaniel Branden
I left home in a huff aged 17, I had literally had a gut full of rejection, I write about some of my experiences at Tell Your Story on Medium. It felt like a bereavement, sudden and devastating. One day I had a family, the next it was gone. It was a tough experience and I literally had to find myself and survive into independence. I did have some wonderful people that helped during that time, to whom I will always be grateful. I had some relationships, but when I met my first husband as I served him several pints in a London bar, I knew I had found a kind and funny man. We had three kids and settled into family life.
I knew I was damaged, but I put it to one side to be a good mother and to just simply love my kids. I bluffed my way through several years hoping no one noticed the pain I felt inside.
So what next? How do you heal?
Finding yourself a good therapist would be the first port of call, but if you wish to work independently, here are some pointers.
· Recognise your emotional responses, good and bad, when you are having them. Don’t get bogged down with over-thinking, just acknowledge your reactions.
· Identify your personal emotional needs. Upset? Need a hug, ask for one! Start a journal and note down your emotional needs and what helps you.
· If you find yourself thinking you don’t deserve a need to be met, STOP! Change your thinking, you are as deserving as the next person. Each time that thought arises, acknowledge it and change your thinking. You ARE deserving. Change the script.
· Self-care is important. Find what makes you feel good and take time out to do it. Sit down and read a book, go for a walk or simply watch your favorite program without interruption.
I applied all of these tactics over the years and learned and practiced Reiki, an energy healing technique. It doesn’t just go away though, I cannot promise a quick solution. Forgiving those that have wronged you helps, along with a strong desire not to keep these patterns repeating themselves. I struggled with being fully emotionally present for my children. I had to learn to be a parent from scratch. But I do know that my children have been my whole life and I am so proud of them. I have learned to hug and be hugged unconditionally, for that I am eternally grateful.
“The ability to respond to and recover from the challenges of daily living is a marker of well-being and depends on the actions of the autonomic nervous system.” Polyvagal Excercises for Safety and Connection, Deb Dana
We are finally coming to learn that our nervous system plays a strong role in the way we live our lives, what triggers us and how. Having been a lifelong learner of mindfulness, I am so pleased to see that science and mainstream media are catching up. I came across the Polyvagal Theory recently, a real “doh” moment of science finally accepting what Yogi’s have been preaching for centuries. Breathe, slow your central nervous system down and give yourself time to understand yourself and how you operate in this world.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Theresa