You know what. Sometimes shit happens in life. And sometimes it’s not your shit. But you end up carrying it as if it is. Trauma happens, boundaries become blurred and the wrongful actions and words of others, become something that you bear.
And when it comes down to family trauma, the risk factor is even higher. Because we live in a world that tells us blood runs thicker than water. We live in a world that tells us we should put family first and do whatever we need to do to keep those family ties in place. A world that tells us when family do wrong, we should forgive and forget.
But at what cost? What price are we willing to pay, to protect and carry those family ties?
It’s your choice
In all the work I do, the presence of toxic family relationships, trauma and broken trust are a theme that runs throughout. And all too often, I hear the narrative, “This happened in my life, and this is why I am the way I am… I am stuck with it.” But the truth is, you don’t have to be stuck with it. It is your choice whether you choose to keep lugging that baggage around with you. It can also be your choice to drop it off once and for all.
Of course it’s not easy. And sometimes, we don’t know exactly HOW we do that. But the reality is that, when family trauma occurs and someone in your life betrays your trust or acts out of alignment with your values in a very serious way, you can choose to go along as if nothing happened, or you can choose to honour yourself and what is important to you.
The reality is that, when you choose to continue engaging in toxic family relationships and ties, it will only continue the toxicity in the relationships of those around you. And by living out of alignment with your values and what is important to you, you feed the unconscious, underlying dialogue that you are ‘as bad as them.’ And that will eat you up from the inside.
So what do you do? What do you do when your values as an individual are breached by your very own flesh and blood? Do you continue to bury it under the carpet and carry on as if nothing had ever happened? Do you forgive and forget? Or do you do your best to move on, but instead carry the emotional responsibility of their unforgivable actions?
A new way
The answer is no. You have to face that shit head on. And I’m not talking about going to warfare here. I’m talking about speaking your truth. Even when that truth is in the face of perceived power. You don’t need to go in with a battle helmet and shield to prove yourself. But you do need to able to draw your own boundaries and say, “What you did was wrong, and I will not be a part of or stand for that.”
It may be a parent figure. It could extend wider. Mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents. It doesn’t matter who it is, what matters is you.
While wrongdoings and traumas are by no means limited to either gender, for women, the existence of patriarchy within the family home is also still going strong to this day, and whilst we may not be living within the structures of earlier days, patriarchy seeps in, in insidious ways. It is the underlying belief that tells us we should ‘respect’ the authority of the male within the family in all contexts. It is the ruling power that tells us to get back in our box when we want to speak up. It is the invisible undercurrent of reprehensible actions being carried along in a façade of entitlement.
So what happens when you break out of those structures and make choices that are yours and yours alone? What happens when you speak your truth? Why isn’t it just easier to bury your head in the sand and pretend that everything is rosy?
Because sometimes love is not enough. Family ties are not enough. And blood is not thicker than water.
What’s true for you?
When you spend your life living out of alignment with your values and what is right and true for you, you spend your life feeling out of place and that ‘things are not okay.’ At best, you lose respect for yourself, and at worst you create a life that is driven by shame and contempt for the person you have become. The longer you go on denying yourself, the longer you shrink into the shadow of who you know yourself to be.
We have to live by our own values. And sometimes, that means severing ties that, once upon a time, were unbreakable. But we have to remember, that we ALL MAKE OUR OWN CHOICES. And when someone does something to break that trust, as hard and as painful as it is, you have to stand by your values and what is true for you.
Because what is the other option? A life of inauthenticity. A life of hating yourself for condoning something that is not part of your moral compass?
When it comes to healing
If you have been living with illness, or stuckness in any shape or form, and you have unresolved family conflict, I can guarantee you that working through this is part of your healing. Because as long as you are carrying the shame and upset of other people’s mistakes you will never be free. And so many people I work with are people pleasers and ‘codependents’ who carry the mistakes and traumas of others. It is not your baggage. You HAVE to let it go.
Taking the leap
If you’re ready to take the leap in your life, the question you need to ask yourself is, “Why am I doing this?” and “What exactly am I hoping to achieve from this?”
If the answer is for your own peace of mind; speaking up for what is right, and knowing that you are choosing to live in accordance with your values and not someone else’s then all well and good, take that leap now. But if you are expecting a particular outcome, or any kind of response from the person in question you may not be ready. Because, this isn’t about them showing remorse. It’s not about them knowing how upset you are. It’s not about them trying to make you feel better. This is about YOU taking ownership for what is important to you; making your own life choices and ‘driving your own ship.’
What happens next?
So what does happen next? Well, no single experience is the same. But if you are truly doing it to be living in alignment with your own values you may well find a reconnection with your own sense of empowerment and freedom. A feeling that you are free from the shackles of that toxic relationship. Free from the weighted emotions you have been carrying. And a true sense of what it is it to set boundaries and finally let go.
They say that emotions are stored in the body, and when you go through an experience like this, you truly see evidence of that first hand because your physical state WILL shift.
The time is now
So, what will you do? If you have been carrying the burden of someone else’s shame, do you want to carry on as you have done? Or do you want to make that change today, and free yourself from the prison of your past?