MEMORIESKathy from SMARTliving365.com wrote a post about the importance of choosing the memories from our past she states that: "every person’s life is usually filled with a collection of both good and bad experiences. What we individually choose to focus on, highlight, and repeatedly tell others, and ourselves, can either lead to a happier life, or reinforce the past negatively."
FAMILY LEGACYI come from a fairly dysfunctional family background - my father was a selfish individual who expected the family to revolve around his rules. He was an alcoholic and a chain smoker and spent the last few years of his life in permanent care with dementia caused by the damage all those toxins did to his brain. My mother enabled a lot of his behaviour because she always took the path of least resistance. My brothers and I have no real sense of having a dad in our lives as we grew up. We don't even have family photos of us all together, to help us create memories of him with us.
|The three of us as kids|
Both my brothers have failed marriages, are compulsive spenders, have very few friends, and have many issues relating to a distant and dismissive father figure. I thought I escaped relatively unscathed - until I started looking at the coping mechanisms I have in place to deal with life. I handle criticism very poorly, I am a people pleaser wherever possible, I think I am a classic "oldest child" in that I am a bit (quite a bit) of a control freak and I like my world to be very ordered and pleasant. I'm not a big fan of change or surprises and I always tend to think the worst is going to happen and worry about it (often needlessly).
IT ALL DEPENDS ON YOUR PERSPECTIVE
When I look at these character flaws in myself, I have often chosen to resent my parents (particularly my dad) for the lack of quality parenting they provided through my formative years. My mum has stepped up big time in the last few years and we have become much closer. I think this is partly due to me accepting her for the person she is and not expecting too much from her - when she does something caring or considerate I love it and feel really special, and that is such an added bonus.
Kathy's point was that our memories are coloured by our experiences and are subject to being interpreted differently by the people who were present at the time. I'm sure my parents thought they did a great job of raising us - none of us are in jail and we are good citizens making our contribution to society. The difference in perspective comes from experiencing things as a child and a teenager that I would not want my children to have to go through. But.....and this is a big 'but'......there were good times in amongst the bad. So I can choose to remember how hard done by I was in my youth, or I can focus on remembering the fun times. There weren't very many fun family events, but there were laughs along the way and milestones.
I think it's important to not place today's values on yesterday's parenting. We are much more involved with our children than our parents were in the 1960's, we have the benefit of better education, more resources and an understanding of the impact we have on the children we have in our care. I think my parents just got on with their lives and we came along for the ride.
My dad passed away last year with very little fanfare. There was a good turn out for his funeral, but my brothers and I struggled to find any grief in his passing. I still need to forgive him for his selfishness and to try to pull together the good memories from days gone by and push the not so nice stuff into the background. No amount of blaming or wishing things were different will change the past, so why not choose happy things to remember and move on. There's a lot I have learnt from my childhood and there are a lot of things I have done differently from my parents - that can be a positive outcome to continue on with. Now I just need to dredge up a few extra happy memories to highlight and remind myself of, then I can start telling them to my brothers!