My life growing up had all of the appearances of a good life. I grew up in a two parent home with one sibling. My father worked a nine-to-five job on week days. My mother took care of me as well as doing some house cleaning for various people she and Dad knew. We went to a private school a mere fifteen to twenty minute walk away from our home. The neighborhood we lived in had plenty of kids for me to play with. Life was, from the outside looking in, pretty swell.
Recently, I started seeing a counselor for various issues that I need some help with. A key part of counselling seems to be looking back at things that we experience as children. In looking at my own childhood, I have learned that I have suffered from some traumatic experiences which have contributed to some of my behaviors as an adult. I won’t get into all of those in this post, but one of them I will.
My parents both came from families where they experienced their own sets of trauma. Now, I love my parents and am grateful to both of them for how they raised me and that I am their son. That said, neither of them were capable of providing much in the way of emotional support. So what I learned was to handle things on my own, not talk about them, and not ask for help. Whenever I was upset about something, anxious or sad, I can remember spending time alone in my room or in the basement playing video games, reading or just playing. Otherwise I would go outside and play. I didn’t know any different, and just thought this was how it was supposed to be.
Around the age of 11 or 12, my father tried to take his own life. I remember it like it was yesterday because when I got home from school there were signs that Dad had been home. The thing is, he usually didn’t get home until 5:30 at night via the bus from his job downtown. So I knew right away something was off. I don’t recall exactly how I was told what had happened, or by whom. But what I remember was that he took a bunch of pills, then freaked out and called 911 because he didn’t want to die. They pumped his stomach, took him to the hospital and he was fine. My Mom took me to the hospital that night, and her recollection is that she didn’t know I was going to follow her into the room where they were keeping Dad. *shrug* I’m not sure where else I would have gone. What I saw next shook me to the core. Dad was in a bed, with a tube down his throat and his arms and legs tied down. He could not talk and could barely move. I had obviously never seen him that way before, and it upset me a great deal. But not in the way you might expect. Somehow, I felt empathy toward him in that moment. And I still think to this day that God was nudging me telling me to let him know that I needed him and loved him and was so glad he did not succeed at leaving us behind. I felt like somehow it was my job to save him. I don’t know where that came from, but it’s something I’ve carried with me into my adult life. Not always for the better. I know Mom was upset and not thinking clearly that she took me into the room to see Dad, but I’m glad it went the way it did. I knew then that my Dad wasn’t invincible, and he was human. I still looked up to him, and still do look up to him to this day. He was hurting. He handled it the best he knew how. Fortunately for me, he’s still going strong today.
This trauma and lack of emotional support has made it difficult for me at times to be in relationships with other people. I am not very good at asking for help, and I am not very good at self compassion. I am and always have been very tough on myself. It’s something I’m still working on, but it’s not easy. I’ve never been suicidal, but have experienced some really bad anxiety and depression in my life. Days where I couldn’t even get out of bed. But with counselling and medication, I’m managing it fairly well.
I do not blame my parents for any of this. None of it is their fault. They weren’t equipped, so I’m not equipped. It’s a cycle. But this gives you some insight into who I am and the type of things I’ve dealt with in my life. If anyone has similar experiences, or this resonates with you, I’d love to connect with you to talk about it more. If not, that’s fine, too. I just hope it helps someone to know they’re not alone.
Thanks for reading. Have a fantastic day!