Blood Is Thicker Than Water But So Is Toothpaste
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Below.
Someone tried to silence me yesterday. That’s how I knew I have one more frontier to explore in my healing, and I’ve been doing quite a bit of it in the past year but they only now discovered it.
It’s the frontier (often times, deep dark woods!) of the
families we are born into and the hurt we incur in our formative years and hold onto for the rest of our lives because, we’re told, blood is thicker than water. When I refer to family, I mean the family beyond my parents and siblings, and certainly not the family I have now with my children. I mean family in the small town sense of ancestors and extended family and all the blood kin that you know you have and some you don’t.
I think for most of us, this frontier is rife with the dysfunctional people who set patterns for their children that just keep them going in vicious circles for generations gone and generations to come. And you’re a traitor if you go against family?
Well, I’m not playing. What was done to me was done. What was said to me was said. My feelings on those subjects are valid and they won’t go away just because someone wants me to forget all about it now. Damaged children do not heal by carrying secrets to their graves as old men and women. Their wounds need oxygen to heal.
Things cannot be forgotten until they’re cleanly put away. Otherwise, there’s always a bit of debris in the metaphysical house, always sticking out in the dark where you least expect it and tripping you up. And I am attempting to put away the debris—the clutter, the shrapnel, even the treasures—very cleanly into the spot where it can lie for the rest of eternity. I am not interested in dusting it off and finding a new place for it in my life. It’s in the past and I’m content for it to stay there, whether others are or not.
I’ve been told, by someone who has never been near me as an adult, that I shouldn’t talk about bad things that happened to me as a child or teenager. About monstrous things that happened in my family or the many dramas that played out. That I should just keep quiet. It’s the appropriate thing to do. It’s the respectful thing to do. It’s the “Christian” thing to do (though it’s okay for them to talk about my experiences?).
That it’s better to stay silent and fall right in line with that swirl of dysfunction that’s been in our family for years than to choose to examine and admit and release the damage that has been done. The older generations are dying out now, and some would rebirth it into the newest if they could, rather than concentrate on creating new families that are free from the old bonds. They’re very good about telling me what I need to do to ”heal the family,” when there’s been no focus on healing the self and all the old poisons still rage in the family and there’s never any attempt to soothe the sins but plenty to demand forgiveness. There’s a misconception that you have no choice but to remain a part of the blood kinsmanship and put up with whatever drama they have going on at any given moment. Somehow, they seem to think that because it’s the focus of their life, that it should be the focus of mine, too, when they hardly ever cross my mind except in regard to an old wound I am healing.
Again, I refuse to play. I choose not to expose my
children to the old patterns.
I learned physical abuse from my family. Belts, switches, boards, limbs, hands, straps, cords, wire. I watched many a beating while growing up, and endured a few myself. These were usually children, sometimes very small children. I chose to acknowledge the pattern, to break it, to release it, and never raise a hand to my daughters.
I learned bigotry and hatred from my family. I was taught racism at an early age but it never firmly took hold and I’m not sure why, given how ingrained it was in daily life. Though it greatly annoys me that there is an occasional mantra from my childhood that pops into my head, I brush it away and release it. I broke the pattern in college, the first time I had friends of all ethnic backgrounds and religions. I never taught my daughters to hate people based on the color of their skin or their dialect or their religion or their body art.
I learned hypocrisy from my family. Of course, it wasn’t just in my family but all around, usually wherever adults said that kids were too young to notice so they did as they pleased and hid behind the auspices of the church. I saw cruel and heinous things done, but as long as the perpetrator prayed loud enough and sat in church every Sunday, God was always on their side. I broke that pattern, too, which is why I’m sometimes a bit eccentric and outspoken on unusual subjects. I am what I am what I am, like it or not. Image is only surface-deep and I’m no longer interested in masks.
There are more patterns, of course. Many. It’s that way in all families, I believe. Both good patterns to honor and keep and bad ones to break and release.
As for those who would rather have my silence than my healing and try to force an external solution to an internal problem, will they choose to look deep within and clear out their own shadows and heal themselves? Or will they hang onto that family pattern of chasing themselves around and around in whirlwinds of denial and retaliation and pass the old dysfunctions along to the coming generations?
Heal the family? No. Heal yourself. Then the rest will follow.