The Truth About You Is Rooted In Your Family Tree
Written By: Mark Smith
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"You can be marked by the past or you can make a mark on the world." J.C. Watts Nooooooooo, not so, it isn't either/or! We are ALL deeply marked by the past of our childhood. The foundation of everything we are is etched into our fragile souls when we are tiny and powerless. Like it or not we were wet cement as children. Realizing the impact of our early markings and embracing responsibility for all that means can empower you to make a bigger, healthier and more genuine mark upon the world. It is strength to acknowledge our weaknesses.
We can acknowledge our markings from childhood and work courageously to heal and mitigate the damage as much as possible in our adult lives or we can bury the truth about us under layers of achievement, success, image, toys, projections, denial, obliviousness, ego, arrogance and various other forms of psychological self-deception. That is where marriage comes in. Marriage is the great truth teller about how emotionally healthy we are. Marriage is ultimately a can opener, a wrecking ball and ticking time bomb all rolled into one pain inducing relationship package. It is designed to break down the elaborate psychological defenses that we needed as a security blanket to get us through childhood and young adulthood. Unless you have gone through a great deal of relationship pain and were forced to take a long, hard, sober, researching look back into the past of your particular haunted family tree then you probably don't have much of a clue who you are, why you married who you married and why you are so unhappy.
Dude, you can pretend that you are the king of the jungle all you want, but the truth is that you are just a regular cat like the rest of us.
Couples come into my office ravaged by the shattered dreams their mutual illusions about marriage armed them with. It is so freeing for them to learn that their marriage is normal, that they married the right person, that there are no victims, that there are no bad guys, that the bomb was going to eventually go off and that if their hearts are open and ready to work they can not only rebuild their marriages into something better than it has ever been but they can also get fully right with themselves. Kick ass therapy starts with figured out what is true about the couple and their family backgrounds. It then progresses to helping both parties choke down those truths.
It is okay to be really flawed. You are broken. We are all broken. The sooner you see that and start humbly acknowledging it the sooner you will make some peace and build some love between you and your spouse. It is painful to take a searching look into blind spots like control, rage, addictions, defensiveness, insecurity, being self-centered, worry, being a lost soul, being too passive, having black and white thinking or sort of being a jerk. But if the shoe fits, put it on. Deal with reality. Most of us have a deceptive fun house mirror of sorts where we see ourselves as a lot more heroic, righteous and perfect than we really are.
We are who we are. People who learn from life's pain to be open, vulnerable, humble, aware, emotional and in touch with the little kid inside of them are actually far more attractive and lovable than the ego driven, perfect, fun house mirror versions of themselves that they want for people to buy into.
The markings of your particular dysfunctional upbringing will haunt you in your relationships. You can learn the hard way or the harder way. The hard way is to embrace the process of dismantling your defenses, learning from your teacher (your spouse) and crying through a lot of painful stuff rooted in your childhood. The harder way is to deny the call, have half of your worldly goods taken from you, not get to see your kids as much and then re-marry another version of exactly the same person and be right back in the same blown up unworkable marriage you were in to begin with except you now also have somebody else's kids under your roof too. The hard way is better than the harder way.
What unhealthy influences seep up from your childhood and get you in trouble in your relationship? Your spouse is trying to tell you if you could hear them. That is why they are shouting at you, because you aren't listening. In therapy we study your childhood markings. We gain an understanding of who you are, where you came from and how insight into that stuff can deepen and revolutionalize your marriage. What issues from your family's collective wounded past are whispering in your ear? You've got to figure that out. You are not as self-made as you would like to believe.
In spite of their flaws and dysfunction the vast majority of people that I have had the privilege of working with are pretty darn wonderful people. Our dysfunctional markings from our childhoods make us unique. The make us us. Accept the multiple ways that your childhood has marked you and then admit to your spouse and your kids and your boss and your friends and your employees and your kids that you are indeed quite flawed. They will love you for your wisdom and your awareness. It is all good.
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