2/20/2009

I've been contemplating...

There are a lot of things I would like to write about, but I hold myself back because I think they are subjects that I *shouldn't* share. I may have a glitchy sense of what is appropriate or inappropriate to talk about, because I grew up in a House of Secrets. I have these duelling inclinations to to talk about things that I maybe shouldn't talk about, or not talk about things that I probably should talk about.

As Philip Larkin wrote, "they fuck you up, your mum and dad"

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

3 comments:

Tracy said...

This is the truth. Your parents can only do as well as they can with what they have/know. My brother has some serious issues with my Dad that he can't let go of. Now he's got a son and he's just doing the opposite of what my Dad did. Not necessarily better, just different, but it's all he knows. It's a sad cycle.

Spastic Sally said...

My general approach to life is: secrets are toxic (now this is a generalization, and exceptions can obviously be made). But I have a book called "Toxic Parents", which essentially underscores what anyone who's grown up in a dysfunctional household already knows: Revealing the "secrets" of the family is considered the WORST sin one can ever commit, and can lead to completely exaggerated responses and vicious attacks. The idea is to make "the one who speaks" feel like the sick, evil, outcast, deserving of shunning. But my feeling is, if your boundaries are appropriate, and you're not telling the entire planet about every intimate detail of your family workings, just to vent or take revenge or make your family members look "bad", then it's okay, and in fact healthy, to "talk". Regardless of how the family responds. Because the more you talk the more you find out that you are not alone. And that helps to heal both you and everyone else who thinks, "Am I really crazy? Am I the ONLY one who sees this???" You need to decide if you're protecting the people who've done you harm out of a feeling of guilty obligation, or if you're doing it out of genuine love. But I do have to say that it's always interesting for me to hear it said that one's parents "did the best they could with what they had". It denotes this unquestioningly positive assumption that they always and only had the best of intentions, and had no control over their own actions. And that's very difficult for me to believe is true in all cases. I do believe that people act based on what patterns were laid down for them in their childhood, but that's a reason, not an excuse. Because I also firmly believe that at a certain point an adult becomes responsible for his or her own actions. That goes for an adult who blames all of his actions on his or her parents, but it also holds true for the parents who helped create those problems in the first place. They, in their turn, also had the choice to either repeat the patterns they learned, or not. I just can't believe that people, at any time during human history, could be held unaccountable for their actions, simply because they "didn't know any better". We're an evolving species, to be sure, but I think some primal human issues, and our ability as a species to handle them, have always been the same.

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