Have you ever wondered what life would be, without the ripples you stir?
Have you looked back at the footsteps you left, and tracked the saboteur?
Do you ask yourself and beg to know, how dark the shadows are?
Do you know how harsh the truth, how hard it was to come this far?
J.M – The 21st Muse
I would like to share a personal tale/some advice that I feel is important for teens and young adults alike. I don’t claim to know all the answers, but this is just something I’ve put together from my experiences of toxic parenting, acceptance and understanding..
Life is hard, man.
I always felt like my struggle was the best thing about me.. I’ve grown up with a narcissistic father and a young mother – a pretty shitty combination – but definitely not a rare one.
I grew up in a suburban town – it was no ghetto – but we were much poorer than most there and I never felt as though I belonged. Every time I expressed a niche interest or idea that wasn’t popular I was bullied and ridiculed by my peers. Again, common. I never understood why and as a result there was a hell of an emotional kickback on my part. I tried to develop a thick skin, get into locally accepted interests such as Football, gaming and sports – but it never felt right for me, I felt like an oddball.
At home, my family was always one of arguments. If my brother and I bickered or acted up (like children do), we would be subject to 3 hour long lectures from my father – and if my mother tried to cut it short she would be undermined and lectured too.
These shitty aspects of my life built an immense feeling of pressure inside of me as a child, and even more so as a teenager. I felt as though I was on my own, had no-one to confide in and those who did listen would ridicule me. I had to make people proud. I had to be perfect. So I started rebelling and making stupid mistakes because it was easier than trying and failing. I never wanted to get anything wrong, but I seemed to be all the time, so why not actively fuck things up?
I could never understand why my life was this way, why I lived somewhere that was inhabited with people that wanted to crush my dreams, tell me I was weird or that I wasn’t good enough. I left home at 16 and spent my late teens trying to find ‘my people’, putting myself through all kinds of experiences both social and career based – just to prove to myself that I was strong and I could do anything. Obviously this has its pros and cons. When it went well it was great – confidence boost! But when it went wrong, boy did it do more damage than it was worth.
I’m thankful I met my Ex. She was 21, had two children and was struggling on her own to make a difference for her kids. She taught me that it was okay to be a loner. That you had to be humble and mindful of your ego, and that your happiness isn’t dependent on your success or perfection, but instead your personal sense of accomplishment..That you did the best you could.
Meeting her showed me that I was becoming my father, I felt just like he had when he became a parent. I realised how weak he really was. How his ego crippled his ability to learn about himself and grow into a better person, and now he is settled in his ways, solidified as a lesson to me.
I spoke to my mother recently and asked her why we moved from my hometown to the suburbs. It turns out, my father had his own selfish reasons for moving us to a town that would attempt to stifle my development, and I still struggle not to hold that against him.
I could sit here and tell you that this was unfair, unjust and that the decision he made resulted in years of bullying and isolation, and that my mistakes were on him. But I wont. There was no way he could have known what the people were like in that town and how I would grow up to be. I’m sure he thought it had it’s benefits. The fact is, I can’t change that.
Life is a series of challenges. It’s about finding the strength to swim through the crap bits, and without those, we stagnate. It is about self-acceptance. Contrary to what that might imply, self-acceptance is not about being satisfied with our flaws and not trying to change them; but instead accepting that there are flaws with causes that might not always be in your control, and being more forgiving of yourself and others.
A little birdy (and some astute observation) has shown me that my father also had issues with his father, who most probably had issues with his father before him, too. Their failure to forgive their parents and learn from their mistakes has passed the problem down to the next generation.
Life is a lake. Every action we take can have a ripple effect on those around us and our own actions further down the line, with everything.
Who knows what would have happened if I had grown up with a mindful and tolerant father, or was accepted by my peers. Would I ever have had to struggle the same, try to find my own path and learn from the mistakes? Of course. It just would’ve been a different struggle, equally as hard. It’s important to avoid being arrogant about my fathers failings, because one day, I will be forced to make decisions for my children that won’t have perfect outcomes.
If you ever feel like you’re fighting an uphill struggle, you are. You may feel like it isn’t fair, but life isn’t fair. You don’t choose to be born just like you don’t choose who to be born by, you just have to take it for what it is and try to grow out of it.
If you come from a toxic family, you should try to see things ultimately, animalistically; your purpose in life is to build off your parents progress and create healthy offspring. So, try your hardest to be understanding of your parents, no matter how fucked they are, because they most likely didn’t understand their parents, and that’s why they were the next toxic link in the chain. Do your best to be happy in yourself, to forgive your parents and pass the lessons you have learned onto your children one day so that they can do better than you. Even your parents failures can be successful lessons.
To conclude, nobody is perfect. Accept the mistakes of others as well as yours, celebrate your successes and keep clearing your path to happiness. Be mindful of the ripples you stir.
J.M – The 21st Muse