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The context. I have spent decades attempting to understand my family, their dynamic, their patterns and my relationship to them. I am the outsider, the rebel, the truth teller and the black sheep. I have come to understand the stark contrast of their value system and mine. While my value system was formed in this contrast, many times in rebellion against or opposition to my birth family’s conflicted and sometimes hypocriticaly rigid and regimented values. The values of my birth family were never stated overtly, one is subject to them only after the fact when an unwritten line is crossed.

“Nothing influences children more than these silent facts in the background. The child is so much a part of the psychological atmosphere of the parents that secret and unsolved problems between them can influence its health profoundly… causes the child to feel the conflicts of the parents and to suffer from them as if they were its own. It is hardly ever the open conflict or the manifest difficulty that has such a poisonous effect, but almost always parental problems that have been kept hidden or allowed to become unconscious.“ Carl Jung

More personally, the words that follow come after years of dedicated discernment about what relationship I wish to have with my birth family, if any. For the past two to three years I made the conscious choice to see them with new eyes and to give them another chance to be seen and see myself and my kid with new eyes.

I did my best to see them without the expectations of a child or adult child, to allow them to be themselves. I watched as me and my kid were repeatedly cast into old, outdated roles, overtly rejected with hollow apologies following. I watched as my alcoholic mother berated myself or my child while ‘welcome’ guests in her house.

Then I started building boundaries not based on the past, but on present action. I have met the confusion of elderly parents/grandparents who do not understand how the relationship is changing, yet I continue to demand that it change. My understanding of forgiveness is this: forgiveness is not for the offender, but for one’s self. In letting go of old hurts, resentments, grudges, and betrayal I realize that I have changed. I understand that I no longer need people in my life that inflict pain and call it love. I understand that as my self-respect and self-worth climb exponentially that my relationship with my birth family may be a casualty of this growth.

Sometimes, love and compassion is tough– just as my childhood was a long row to hoe.

I also understand that both of my parents are deeply hurt and hurting people, that their pain is not mine to carry any longer and that I cannot fix them.

These have been hard won realizations and victories.

While I have empathy and compassion for them, I will no longer tolerate their bullshit. Bullshit, in this case, is selfish manipulation, negative projections, self soothing with alcohol, and attention whoring/sympathy farming. Hurt people hurt people and I am no longer tolerant of anyone who is a hurt and harm peddler being a part of my life.

The first part is my takedown of my birth family in resolute kindness.

I need to put a period on the end of the sentence that is our so-called family and my relationship to it.

I have deep compassion for and with you both. I also understand that both of you recreated your unconscious conflicts and struggles and pain in my childhood home. Harm has been done as you have chosen to recreate your unprocessed traumas instead of turning with courage to face, understand and overcome it.

As the former receiver of your pain, I choose a different path. I am no longer the carrier of your careless, unconscious words and actions. I choose me, just as I choose my kid, knowing our values and worth.

We choose to spend time and give energy to those who show up with reciprocity, kindness and acceptance. We choose to discover and embrace those who are willing to look beyond narrow opinions and perspectives. We choose to show up in our lives as collaborators and explorers to those who carry these same wonder-filled values. We have our own unique manner of moving through the world. We know who we are and we choose to live unshackled from the inherited chains of the past. If you choose these chains know that is your choice, and we choose to honor that choice.

It has taken me much time, meditation, reflection and remediation to finally, decisively understand you both and our relationship.

My conclusion is this:

For all of the physical, emotional, psychological and interpersonal violence I witnessed and participated in before the age of 15, I now understand that none of the fists, kicks, emotional terrorism, or psychological terrorism had anything to do with me.

I did not ask to be used as a weapon in grudges I had no hand in creating.

I did not ask to be the shield for my little brother.

I did not ask to have my boundaries violated, or to be thrown into and held responsible for adult values, decisions and discernment.

I did not choose two emotionally unavailable parents that taught intergenerational trauma with their fists, volatility, co-dependence, manipulation and short-sighted ‘victories’ over the other parent.

You two misused each other, then your children in turn.

You had the opportunity to create anything as parents and you chose to create a deep, malingering hell that was assumed to be real. Then you painted this hell as reality to your offspring.

Yet, the truth is so simple.

All of this hurt, harm and pain is yours. A legacy of hurt people hurting people. This is the face of intergenerational trauma. The term doesn’t do justice to the reality of growing up in two homes saturated with unprocessed grief, latent shame, constant betrayal, hyper criticism, manipulative control, unrecognized guilt, festering resentment and deep, deep loneliness from two people who could not teach love or compassion because they themselves did not know it within themselves.

Through all of the unreal silence that shrouded my childhood in the cult-like disparity between what Sunday morning looked like and what Sunday evening felt like, you recreated your pattern of silence in me. Yet, when brought to the light, all of the turmoil, avarice and obfuscation of my childhood is laid plain and clear for me to see, feel and re-member.

None of this hell you two chose to create had anything to do with me. I was a simple witness to generations of conflict that you didn’t choose either. Yet there is a difference between us that is deeper than values. I have chosen to look, to sit courageously in pain that wasn’t mine to carry for long enough to discover the truth of it.

Your pain was never mine to carry.

My kid and I choose consciously and with awareness how we move through this world. We choose how, when, where and with whom to show up. We choose the people and voices and character of revolutionary inner liberation. We choose radical acceptance, vigilant non-judgement, and bravely owning our own feelings and choosing our response.

You decide how this ends as choice is always present. My kid is now witness to your well justified inner hell’s. Together we say “fuck no” to your bullshit, to your attempts to co-opt another generation into a dysfunctional cycle of physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual violence.

The period on the end of this sentence is a simple, compassionate, and hard won goodbye. We wish you well knowing that we have learned what you had to teach, and choose to re-discover ourselves in the aftermath of our encounters with you both.

We wish you all the best in this life and the next. We are walking away from this so-called family to embrace our tribe of family that chooses to value, create, explore and collaborate together.

As in all things, the inner is reflected in the outer. A shaming parent is simply calling forward their own unprocessed shame unconsciously. The process of truth-telling and boundary setting become a pathway to recognition, remediation and potential renewal. If that pathway is taken up by an ‘offender’ then there is a new way forward that can be consciously chosen.

How might one choose to remediate the relationships in their birth family?

What values and character do the individuals possess that can be called forward to aid that remediation and rebuilding of trust. If blame is always a call for higher understanding, then we are bound to look within ourselves first to discover the mitote within and root it out. (hypnosis and self-hypnosis work very well for this purpose)

In the end, I believe that by doing our inner work and examining the voices within and cleansing voices that do not originate within self, thereby gaining clarity, we can then seen those most intimate to us with fresh perspective. We can then use influence to discern whether those intimate to us value us innately or a picture postcard of us. If the latter is the case, we are left with the loss of that relationship if the pathway to renewal is not willingly adopted by the other party.

This is a bit heady. It doesn’t feel good to be an adult child of parents who cannot see their offspring. The two dimensional post card of a false self projection never feels good. Those hurtful feelings of the past are with us always until we choose to release and remediate them, until we are willing to loose control of the reigns for long enough to allow new possibilities to form, flower and take root. It is a process.

It is a hopeful process. The reclamation of self and self-worth from the loss and grief and unknowing of CPTSD is worth it because you and I are worth it. Step by step we relearn how to be in this world and in doing so, rewrite our scripts and then our lives.

What might flower out of a seed of hope?

Where might this new path take you or me?

about author


A dad, a kid, a kelpie and two cat brothers rubbertramping around the country doing our best to live authentic lives while awakening to our birthright. 

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