“It’s easy to understand why you might seek a heart-to-heart dialogue with a parent who disappointed you. You long to make sense of, to heal from, to resolve. You intuitively know that they have information that can put what you experienced in context.
At the same time, you have to be careful not to expect something that they cannot provide. For many of those who came before, it is absolutely essential that they stay away from the hotbed of emotional material that you seek to excavate. It’s too loaded, too guilt-ridden, too overwhelming, and they intuitively know they will not survive the process. They know that the dialogue will force them to awaken a whole web of unresolved emotional issues they are not able to confront. There is little worse than ending up between two worlds- one unconscious and repressed, the other conscious and awakened. Sometimes its necessary to remain asleep, because awakening is just too darn difficult.
The important thing- when you seek dialogue with those who have hurt you- is that you understand in advance that any refusal to participate is not a reflection of your inherent value. It’s a reflection of their inherent limitations. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you. It doesn’t mean that they don’t privately wish that they could have done better. It often just means that they have chosen, or must choose, to never look back…
“I always try to remember how much courage it takes for abuse victims to return to a state of trust in this world. This is no game, and often takes every ounce of energy and faith they can muster. Trauma is not simply a concept or an idea of something. It is not some misplaced story. It is not some ‘parasitic pain-body’ (Oy gevalt!). It is a deeply embodied experience of suffering that fastens itself tightly to the cellular (and soulular) structure of every person who is victimized. It embeds itself as somatized memory, and it cannot be wished away or bypassed with positive affirmations and victim bashing mantras. It just can’t. I often hear people telling others ‘to get on with it,’ ‘let it go,’ and ‘stop playing the victim.’ This languaging adds insult to injury, and is both counter-productive and victimizing. Yes, we don’t want to hang onto trauma as identity for the rest of it, but it is far worse to pretend that it isn’t there. The heal is for real, and that healing can only happen in a compassionate and patient environment. May we support those who have been traumatized (which is most of humanity, in my estimation) with an exquisite depth of understanding and presence. Without it, we just keep the cycle of abuse alive. Without it, we miss the opportunity to heal our own brokenness and enhearten this mad world. The heal is for real…” -Jeff Brown
‘One of the great challenges for those who have survived abusive and neglectful parents is that there is often a part of us that is still waiting for them to love us, even if there is very little chance of that happening. Locked in an archaic mindset, we continue to go back for more, looking for love in all the wrong places. Somehow we imagine that they will come around one day, realize their mistakes, see our worth, soften those armored edges. And some do, often when they are very old, made vulnerable by sickness and time. But many don’t, and we need to stop putting our emotional lives on hold waiting for something that may never happen. The bridge from stagnation to empowerment lies in our willingness to see them for who they really are, to take them off their primal pedestal and recognize their human limitations. This is not easy- the hungry child self clings to illusions- but it is oh so necessary. Until we accept the reality of who can’t love us, we cannot embrace the love of those who can.’-Jeff Brown