The month of November has the world focused on activism against abuse and violence in our society. We at bAw chose to focus on this topic as well, but we chose to offer insights into it from the parties to abuse that are rarely ever heard from. One of those is the children who grow up in an abusive home/environment.
So you know the option you get on Facebook for putting up a relationship status that states, “It’s Complicated”? Today’s post provides a personal experience on this type of relationship status, but the only thing is it’s not about a romantic relationship. Issues in this relationship that is meant to be one of the most important in one’s life, are more common with young Africans than we realize.
Please read on and leave some encouragement for Anonymous in our comments at the end.
How do you reconcile the fact that the very people who gave you life suck that very life out of you?
What do you do when you’re constantly being told you’re too much and also, never enough?
Why were you birthed into a ‘picture perfect’ family yet you envy those whose fathers left because maybe – just maybe – that pain would be more bearable?
When did you become the person who puts on perfection in public whilst falling apart in private?
Where did you go wrong for you to be living out this nightmare that you can’t seem to wake up from?
These are but a few of the thousand questions that run through my mind far too often. The hardest part: living two lives — one in the world and a completely different one at home.
On one end, you are grateful for all your parents sacrificed in order to give you a better life than theirs. From your education to the experiences that have opened you up to the world and fuelled your curiosity.
Those very same experiences, though, have made you aware that something about your upbringing wasn’t right. They have led you to loathe the perception of perfection that your family has perpetuated for so many years.
You want to release a PSA and let the whole world know: “Don’t be fooled – this is all a facade. You’re being sold dreams whilst our family falls apart.”
You sit in the church pews whilst they conduct church programs, observing in utter confusion the admiration of onlookers who greatly esteem them. “Am I the crazy one here? Are these not the same people who broke me and called me failure in the car on the way here?”
To the congregation, they are the quintessential God-fearing, family-oriented, service driven and compassionate people. To me, they are the greatest source of my anxiety, inner turmoil and heartache.
On one end, I recognise that our African parents were never raised to understand their emotions and communicate in a healthy manner. They don’t have the tools to navigate life and love the way we have come to understand it. They had difficult childhoods. Abandonment and neglect were rife. Strained familial relationships and strict household rules shaped who they became.
That being said, I can’t help but wonder, “Why me?” Why was I born to witness the emotional, verbal and physical abuse that punctuates their relationship? Why am I and my siblings constantly on the receiving end of their hurt? Why do they stay together? By trying to keep up appearances they keep breaking our hearts as their children. Just when we think we’re out of the danger zone, disaster strikes yet again.
The hardest part is recognising that you’ve adopted some of those unhealthy traits – defensiveness, a victim mentality and a warped understanding of love. If we’re not careful, the things we despise the most, we become.
“If we’re not careful, the things we despise the most, we become.”
As I seek healing from the hurt that I have endured, I can’t help but wonder: “Can they really not see that they need help? How do they constantly point fingers at my shortcomings with utter disregard of their own?”
Round and round and round I go. So many questions. And so much anger. Anger at them for failing to be the parents I wanted them to be. For failing to be the parents who encourage my dreams and allow me to soar. Anger at them for wanting to control my life, even as an adult. Anger at them for not being there when I needed them most, and then turning around to ask me for a helping hand.
Anger at myself that I gave them a hand even though they don’t care to acknowledge the hurt they’ve brought me. Anger at how much they affect my life, even though I’m grown.
I do not know how to make sense of this, so I continue to work on me. With each layer of hurt addressed, another layer reveals itself. Delving deeper into the scars that have shaped me and prevented me from living life with joy. That have drowned me in darkness whilst being the greatest source of my creativity and inspiration.
The dichotomy of being a child raised in abuse: Knowing that abuse is not normal, that it is ungodly, yet still being called to treat those very perpetrators of your pain with godly love and respect.
Thank you Anonymous for openly sharing what is clearly a painful part of your life. It truly is complicated but one thing I know is that with a willing heart, God can simplify and bring healing to what has caused you your greatest pain. I pray you let Him lead you to a healthier space for yourself first, and watch Him work the rest out.
Can you relate with Anonymous’ experience? Maybe it’s not to as great an extent but you can recognize what has been off in your relationship with your African parents or children. Have you had a completely different experience with your loved ones? Whatever your story, please do share below and encourage Anonymous and someone else.
Thanks as always for reading sis.