You may be one of many people in this world with some family pain. I don’t mean just some embarrassing moments and childhood challenges. I mean some real gut-wrenching pain, pain that could overwhelm and consume you if you let it.
It’s not easy to do, and you may not believe me, but family pain and good living can exist at the same time. It’s easy to think that good living isn’t possible because you can’t go a day without being reminded of your awful past (or present). Or, that people who have a good life just don’t have much (or any) emotional problems with their family.
For some, holding on to the pain means that they hold on to “something.” And if they let go of it, they won’t have much left of their family at all. Something’s better than nothing, so the pain gets a long-term invitation. It’s too hard to face the reality of their situation and move forward.
It’s important to recognize that pain will hurt you the least when you give it a safe “place to live” inside you. You aren’t pretending it doesn’t exist, you’ll face it when it pops up, but you also won’t allow it to take over your entire life. You learn coping skills to prevent emotional escalation and change your habits. All of this allows your pain to shrink into a more manageable form. Live and let live.
For others, the pain is almost ever-present and hard to get away from. Difficult interactions, broken relationships, money troubles, substance abuse – any of these can be an ever-bearing source of pain. Escape would seem to be bliss.
Escape may indeed be a solution here. Healthy escape, that is. It may be time to put more separation between you and difficult family members – more physical distance, more time between conversations, and more times saying “no.” Or, you may need to create more healthy distractions for yourself. When your mind and emotions stay occupied, they can stay more positive.
You may not ever feel anything like closure for the rotten things you’ve been through. You may never settle the score, get that apology, or feel accepted. It just may never happen, no matter what you do. That doesn’t mean those loose ends define your self worth.
When you can learn to put a little healthy separation between the “rotton things” and “you as a human being”, there’s finally room for more satisfaction in your life. And you can feel that pain, sometimes. And you can wake up to another fresh day tomorrow.
This is a tough topic to sum up in a short post, but I want you to know that it IS possible to live a better life. Even with tough family pain.
Your comments are welcome, as always.
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Last reviewed: 22 Jun 2011