Alexandra, otherwise simply known as The Empress, writes the blog, Good Day, Regular People. She is a supportive blogger, extremely insightful and an amazing writer.
I am always thrilled when I get a comment from Alexandra because her words are rich and heartfelt and I feel like she doesn’t just read my posts but she reads between the lines and knows what I’m trying to say better than I am often able to convey.
I am honored to have Alexandra here today sharing a letter that in her words, “In honor of April Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month, [I] knew I had to post on Domestic Chaos”.
Alexandra reminds us, ever so eloquently to live openly, own our stories and never be ashamed of sharing them.
To Those of Us Who Grew Up in Dysfunctional Homes:
Many, many times, I have wished for people in my real life who can listen to my life story without judging. Someone who hears my words without pity, who gets to know me and accepts me with all the left overs from the home life I had.
I want this letter to be that understanding friend to all of you out there in the world who grew up in a damaged home.
Growing up as a child from a dysfunctional home, I’d look around all the children at school or in my neighborhood, and think how lucky they were. All the lucky ones raised in idyllic surroundings; homes with tender words spoken and with eyes meeting theirs, looking back brimming with love. Whole homes with everything a child needed to grow up feeling cared for and cherished.
Things are much harder for someone like us. Maybe we don’t have a family support system right now, and never had one. Frequently, there are no role models, no warm memories of what it feels like to have a parent care and tend to us. There are all sorts of sources for the brokeness we carry around inside: abandonment, foster care, divorce, a missing parent, abuse, neglect, poverty, alcoholism, addiction, death, none of a parent’s time given to us.
Sometimes it is the parent’s fault, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it’s all they can offer or are capable of, many times being broken themselves.
If you are a child of a home that left you feeling sad, scared, hurt, forgotten; what I want you to know is that you are not what happened to you. Your life is a part of you, but it’s not the whole you.
You may still be carrying around the childhood shame from growing up so different than what you saw around you. This shame that clings to you is a shame that you did not earn or create for yourself. Living as though you are the guilty one for having brought your life upon yourself will leave you frozen in your childhood.
Shame confuses us into thinking we had a part in our life’s situation. We didn’t. We feel shame because we know our lives weren’t what is right for a child. We feel shame because we fear people will judge and whisper and look down on us, have pity for us. We think shame will keep us safe from the pain of having our secrets heard, of being found out; if we just stay quiet about our lives and our story, then no one will hurt us with the way they think about us.
But living in shame and secret does the opposite of what we think it does: it doesn’t protect us. It leaves us isolated and unknown and not a part of anything.
I write to all of us, all of us today, to say: live OPENLY. Tell your story, own it, make it a source of your inspiration and use it as a way to find your people, your community. Open your mouth and share the gift of who you are and all that you bring to others, so that anyone else out there feeling alone in a world of not being understood, can hear your story mix with theirs and feel accepted.
Take a deep breath, trust the universe, and let your truth become your connection to the world, and not that thing that keeps you separated. Invite people into your life, open that door, and the world will come in.
I know. I first told my story only a year ago at the Listen To Your Mother show in Madison. I have never felt more a part of this world and everyone in it since that day forward.
To read the piece, The Reach of a Small Moment that Alexandra read for the Madison Listen To Your Mother show, it can be found here.