Do I have your attention? Good. If there is one thing that really grinds my gears it is parent shaming. Yes we all do it, but as a parent on the “dark” side of the parenting fence I must explain we don’t choose to be bad parents. I wouldn’t even call us bad parents but misunderstood parents. I am sure a good portion of the world has had a tough go at one point in their life, but me and who knows how many like me have had it just a little bit tougher.
Two words that hurt me to the core: INTERGENERATIONAL TRAUMA. The first time I heard this term I didn’t really understand it, but if you know me well I am the google queen, and now I get it. Here’s my rundown and understanding of it. It is trauma that runs deep through generations. It started with my ancestors and the trauma was so unbearable it gets handed from one generation to the next and the cycle repeats itself until someone ends it! Ive chosen to end my cycle, but is it too late for my children? I believe with awareness and treatment it is not too late.
So here is my understanding of my intergenerational trauma. I have only met my Moms real dad; he was a tall full African man with the last name Bryant (I joke to my kids they could be related to Kobe Bryant lol). He died of Alzheimer’s and I never really knew who he was. I also lost contact with my Aunt, who I think of often, when I was barely a teenager and my Uncle is around but I don’t know him well. My mom is a product of the SIXTIES SCOOP which meant aboriginal children uprooted from their parents and tossed into foster homes of white parents, but not just one foster home THIRTEEN of them! Then the remaining teenage years spent in Juvenile detention. Unfortunately the reasoning for thirteen foster homes, and the normalcy of many sixties scoop children being moved around is a lot is SEXUAL ABUSE. When abused in one home and looked at as a trouble maker/liar your moved, again, and again, and again.
So that is one side, then there is my Step-dad who is the only Dad I remember growing up. He was also “scooped” up, but was a “lucky” one. He was adopted into a well off family and had no financial strain in life, but his trauma began well before being adopted. His mother grew up in RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL. Almost everyone knows what happened in this era. Pretty much your a child speaking your language, living in a community where you fish, gather and hunt, and your “ripped” from your family. You are stripped of your cultural clothing, name, and tongue. You are beaten and sexually abused and taught to lose everything you’ve ever known. This generation (not all) becomes alcoholics, drug addicts, angry people who do what their taught to the next generation. Beat, sexually abuse, and even have your children drinking. My step-dad has severe mental health issues along with addiction and more.
Now, their trauma was taught to me, and please understand I grew up very lucky. I had a loving grandma, a kick ass uncle who was a giant and could throw me so far into the deep end, my aunt who was more of a sister or mother swam with me daily in our indoor pool, and teaching my other aunt how to dance to “Bust a move”. My favourite memory is blaring “Time of my life” and running in the shallow end and my aunt lifting me up like the end of dirty dancing. I was in dance, modelling, choir, and played the saxophone. My dream was to be famous and run away to California (which I did do at 16, but that’s a whole other story), but with all that good there was bad. My Grandma’s “big house” was my escape place and where I felt 100% safe!
When I wasn’t at Grandma’s I was with my parents. My mom physically abused me, and didn’t know how to deal with a child let alone one like me. I needed A LOT of attention, actually I demanded it. My step-dad was also physically abusive to my Mom when they got loaded. Oh, and my step-dad had a habit of sneaking into my room late at night for our “special time”. So, my parents trauma was learned and then instilled in me. I learned anger, abuse, neglect, and hate. I swore I would be different. Then the shame was too much to handle. I became an alcoholic at 14 and made a million mistakes along the way. Then I became a parent and did the exact thing my mom did to me. Ditched them to party, looked for love in all the wrong places, spent years in a very abusive relationship, lost custody, and became am addict.
Obviously I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t do something to change. I GOT SOBER!!! My first reason to sober up was my marriage was falling apart, and then when I got sober I realized how much I damaged my kids. A million apologies will not make my mistakes disappear but it is a start. I think being open and honest is healing not only for me, but for anyone out there who thinks they are alone, and let’s be honest I want to drink!! I yell at my kids, and sometimes I say things I don’t remember or may regret. I bet $100 I am not alone. So no stigma and no shame!
Today I have no contact with my Mom or step-dad, or really any of the family I grew up with. My fave aunt disowned me, and my other aunt and uncle are pretty busy with their lives. Needless to say I have abandonment issues, but I am building a tribe and it has a open door to anyone who would like to join. The only requirements are to want to be better, and to keep trying to be better. Not better than anyone else, just willing to be the best version of you. I have found my biological Dad who after meeting him once at 12 makes me feel whole. I love him very much. I’m so thankful that after 25 years we have reunited. I also have a Grandpa I will meet this week!! How exciting. I still yell at my children, and I still screw up parenting, but I do it less and less and I haven’t picked up a drink when that is all I can think to do in stressful times. I hope that the cycle ends here.
My resolution in 2018 is to master communication. All I have known is anger. Living with my molester taught me to communicate with anger. I will breathe instead of yell, and communicate instead of demand. I think that is a good attainable goal.
Cheers to becoming better parents and healing.