Abuse and Parenting
Overcoming the Patterns of our Past
A spiritual perspective on parenting. How often do abusers follow a perpetual pattern of upbringing vs. how often the pattern is broken. Do we as parents mirror the mistakes our parents made? How can we break free of this mold? We seek consistent understanding in our lives. Is it a matter of displaced failings wherein we blame our past, our parents, our experiences for the downtrodden aspects of our lives? Can we truly say we are shaped somehow by the fortunes and misfortunes of before? If so, how far back is it traceable? From the beginning? The mere essence of our spirits trapped within the womb of a stranger who’s either capable or incapable of positively addressing the growth of her belly; the imbalance of her personality, the utter lack of freedom from movement – from life? Shall we start there? When in a release of unwelcome cold and light our infantile minds are shaped and molded as clay into a permit able form until we are considered normal and worthy of love. Can we say it starts at birth then? How we respond to the world is based on this beginning and thereafter? That we are no more than a product of our environment. Some religions believe in preexistence where we as souls exist in form, in personality so to speak in some unknown realm of heavens. That it was here, before an earthly existence where we choose the tribulations we would face. The belief is the stronger the spirit the more difficult hardships one would bear. And then there is this idea of past lives and the karmic return and paying of debts. Are we then paying the debts of our parents and they their’s? Are we paying the debts of choices we have made in a pattern which is changed only when the end has been sought.
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Negative Patterns Are Established Early
What made me think of it? I was having dinner in a local restaurant one evening. I was sitting casually across from my fiancé’, anticipating lasagna and the warming swallow of red wine. Large booths lined the sides of the restaurant and the atmosphere was meant to be cozy and warm. In the booth, directly in front of my view sat a family. There was a man and beside him a freckled face, pug nosed boy. The father looked respectable. He wore a cashmere pullover sweater in blue donned over a white collared shirt. His salt and peppered hair was neatly combed, nicely cut. I couldn’t see his wife from where I sat but was eyeing the little boy who was quiet and well mannered in spite of being a mere six years old. I remember thinking to myself that I hoped to have such an introspective and mature child. What motivated the memory of this scene in particular was, as I was in mid swallow of glorious wine, eagerly awaiting dinner; I saw out of the corner of my eye the father reach over and slap his child twice across the smallish face. It was so loud it seemed to echo throughout the restaurant and I nearly dropped my glass and choked on the wine. My fiancé’ turned around having heard this and seeing my horrified reaction immediately grabbed my hand already fist formed. The little boy began whimpering as blood trickled down his lips from the nose his father had whacked and was now angrily trying to wipe clean. He continued to scold the boy in a low toned threatening voice as if to blame him for having a nose that bled for no significant reason. My fist began to tremble throughout this miserable scene and I whispered, “Did you see that?” to my fiancé’ who hadn’t seen but understood based on the contortion of my face. “I have to say something.” I whispered in rage. I couldn’t stop shaking so I got up in spite of his pleading eyes and went to the table. I stood as close to the man as I possibly dared. I stared at him for a moment. Locked and horrified and unable to speak for the boiling inside of me. The man was looking at me questioningly and I looked at the wife whose eyes were still with no reaction. She looked tired and helpless. My fists still clenched I considered bringing them down upon his nose which was not nearly as cute but I knew I could make bleed more. Finally, when the words came, I stooped down to be eye level with him able to smell the Marsala on his breath and I said ferociously in a voice trembling with anger, “I want you to know that it is NOT OKAY to hit your child. I know it is none of my business but since my evening was disturbed I had to come over to tell you it is NOT RIGHT and I will not stand to see someone so young and innocent hurt! I think you are pathetic and you should consider dealing with your own self hate some other way!”
I wanted to walk away but I couldn’t. I remained waiting for his reaction, his remorse. I wanted to empower his shocked wife to stand up for her small boy. The father finally snapped back, “You’re right! It’s none of your business!” This snide, unrepentant attitude infuriated me even more. The sight of blood trickling down his pudgy face once again flashed before my piercing eyes. All I could think of to say was, “Well, I just want you to know, this will never be forgotten. You will pay for this somehow.” The boy was looking down at his lap, blood dripping on slowly onto the table top. “You better hope he does his best to not grow to be like you!” I said to the boy in particular. It was my last hoorah before I stomped back to my table no longer wanting lasagna.
While lying in bed that night I wondered whether the boy would grow to acknowledge the pain he had endured; or simply would the patterns of his past be reflections of his present. A grown man who will not consider the consequences of these experiences on his damaged psyche and will so choose to wear shoes of the same color and stature. Burying the reasons for they are far too complicated and painful to analyze. Or perhaps these are his life lessons as history does seek to fulfill itself.
I have always had an awareness of the mistakes made by my parents or myself. There is rarely a moment without self examination and upon finding a flaw my first thought is to displace these weaknesses onto those who shaped me. Growing up in a liberal world where fingers are constantly pointed and there is nowhere to escape and hide without insanity; I found the exit of blaming others to be rather satisfying. Even in my adult life I catch myself constantly turning towards Freudian meanings. If I am angry, I will say – Well! My father was an angry man so he begat my temper. If I am defensive, of course it is because both parents were consistently criticizing me. And to explain my often laziness; it is simply based on the overbearing workload placed on me as a child. Were I not to have parents I assume simply I would be perfect. Right? A work of art. A framed thousand piece jigsaw puzzle; finished, without the task of complexities to figure out. Yet I often ponder the mystery which speaks of another time, another world where we are learning and doing what we have chosen to do. Whether it is by a divine appointment; but then I may blame God. Whether it is through a contract I drew up. Or perhaps a lesson in which I have yet to learn and grow.
It is my hope as parents we will not only consider the consequences of our actions which will have long term affects on our children but also analyze the backgrounds we come from and the ability to overcome what holds us to who we are.
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