April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. I asked my daughter to write an article for my Emotional Wellbeing blog, focusing on the impact of growing up in an extremely dysfunctional family wracked with domestic violence. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The outcome was multi-faceted. It not only helped me to see and better understand the toll it took on her life and emotions, but in working as an advocate for domestic violence awareness, it made me aware that very little attention is given to adult children of domestic violence. They grew up in it and most carried the residue into adulthood. I hope you will share this message with others who might have grown up in homes of domestic violence.
We all have a choice in life. Do we allow our past to dictate to us how our life should be lived or do we allow our past to create change so our future has meaning? The effects of abuse and neglect on a child linger on long after they are grown. Many murderers, drug addicts and dealers, prostitutes, gang bangers, etc. all have the same story – they were neglected and abused.
A Father left early, created a new life and forgot the ones he once called his own. A Mother, left to care for two small children without a dime to her name, called upon alcohol and pills to numb the pain.
Two children, with no one to protect them, found themselves spiraling out of control, looking for the next high or the next boy to show them love. No matter the age, the pain and the wounds of neglect and abuse leave a void, deep within your soul, deep within your heart and forever in your mind.
Years later, you became a parent. You can’t accept the fact that these little creatures can love you unconditionally and you find it hard to love them in such a manner because you were never shown that love. You scream and cuss at your daughter, blaming her for pushing you to your breaking point, when in fact, she did nothing other than ask for a glass of water. You yell at your husband and tell him that you want a divorce because someone else could better fit your shoes. Why? Because you feel so helpless and hopeless, knowing your life is going to turn out just like your mom’s and dad’s did.
But then, something happens. You find the strength to pick yourself up off the floor. You decide to put the gun down, because you vividly remember your mother making every effort possible to take her own life. You remember at the age of three being awakened by paramedics taking your mom out on a stretcher, reviving her every step of the way. She gave up hope, but survived. You can’t bear the thought of your kids seeing their mother laid out on the floor, dead, because she gave up hope.
You walk to the mirror and take a hard, long look. What do you see standing in front of you? A broken, wounded and untrusting 8-year-old little girl who got lost between abuse and neglect? You see yourself and want change so badly that you cry out to God, “Where are you, where have you been?” He softly replies, “Where I’ve been all the time – right here.” You now know that you have a choice. Do you want your kids to shudder in fear because you can’t gain control or do you want them to embrace you?
You see, we all have a choice in life. For 32 years I allowed my past, my childhood that was so dysfunctional and a life that I fought to get away from, haunt me. But then, God stepped in. He reassured me that I can either keep it with me or let it be what makes me a better mother and wife. I choose, today, to not allow the examples I was given to dictate my life, but instead, I choose to give my life to Christ and be the mother and wife HE has called me to be.
This post courtesy of Melanea D. Wood