THOUGHT: The Bright Lights of the Dark Side of a “broken family”


People with tiny minds seem to forget something about those of us who have suffered tough childhoods…

In the case of a sociopathic parent, chances are – that parent was brilliantly charismatic, highly achieved, and supremely competent in the public world while …triggered privately.

In the case of the emotionally abused and battered wife, she was equally determined to work hard for her single-parent household and resilient as fuck, and … about as resourceful as you can imagine.

Where there are siblings in this difficult family upbringing, there is also a shared story — and whether it’s discussed consciously, or guarded genetically, there is great strength in not being alone and inherently, always, understood on some unspoken level.

These are delicious traits to pass down, minus the strange stuff. And it it’s very possible to not inherit the strange stuff if the child took to school and helpful teachers; role models; and good friends and their families like I did growing up.
While psychology traces all neuroses back to our childhood — be cautious, here. This is a sure route, yes, to the root in the mind of how we may instinctively respond to triggers — our lenses. But the soul. Aw, the soul and spirit look forward: there you will trace forward all strengths to your endurance and likely in many of us from “broken homes” your immense appreciation for balance and achievable beauty.

Those of us who missed out on a steady family life, may be smarter than most in knowing what has been missing. In the absence, we craved it. Why is that a bad thing? The crime is not having been deprived, it’s the feeling not-so-worthy to accept it when it’s there. We fall back on assholes because it’s what resonates to us as unfinished or sad business that we want to fix them — while continuing to walk toward better people hopefully.

But trust us, and look to the company we keep as close friends – you’ll see we surround ourselves with quality, peace, and sanity. That’s because we know a good thing when it happens to us, and how to leave a loser.

So you’ll likely find us single a bit longer than most. And how appreciative we are to receive a lover with a clear mind, generous heart, and kind spirit… We will not take you for granted *because* of our plight in life, and our compassion for the families that fell apart for the reasons we do not judge. We know our family wasn’t meant to be but came together in the 60s or 70s because someone didn’t know how to use a condom.

Be careful about how you judge someone’s “fucked-up” past. You may just accidentally reveal that it’s you who is the disturbed one.

If one has sorted it and resolved their pain over the years, you may actually only hear the good stuff about someone’s challenging family life. So, it is you who is not sorted, you may feel betrayed, scared, or critical — or innocently confused — when they reveal the truths about their father who had a temper and got off on scaring some women, or their mom who ignored them for an emotionally immature reason for a year or four. You may not ‘get’ it, nor them nor be able to cherish their empathy for most humans.

I’m amazed by the simple minds who have no grasp on the grace that comes from passing through a turbulent past. I recall my second Muse once explaining it this way: that our parents are just ignorant. Some are evil though. Others not so much; they’re just like bulls in a China shop and mean no harm when they ask us things about our lives that they do not understand. He said it similar to T.S. Eliot in “The Cocktail Party” in speaking about families —

“They do not repine;
Are contented with the morning that separates
and with the evening that brings together
for casual talk before the fire.
Two people who know they do not understand each other, breeding children whom they do not understand
and who will never understand them.”

To me, that is an equal death, perhaps, in the stablest of families, then? Can the havoc wreaked from divorced units enlighten in ways a passive and dull acceptance of subpar relations prevent?

It’s not to say we have to be broken to shine bright but like Leonard Cohen wrote, if it’s through them cracks that the light gets in, then man … I’m broken in all the right places.

Sylvie Hill, Montreal, December 14, 2020