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Can Accepting The Truth of Childhood Trauma Lead to Forgiveness and Healing?

by Chris Freyler 2 months ago in trauma
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If you are aware there is a lesson to learn from those that abuse.

Can Accepting The Truth of Childhood Trauma Lead to Forgiveness and Healing?
Photo by Eduardo Balderas on Unsplash

My Dad never had a chance. He was one of seven kids. He had more trauma in his childhood than you could imagine. I understand that not all abused people end up harming others, but some do.

My Dad is one of the most helpful, caring people I know. He will do anything for anyone if asked. While age is catching up to him, he would still give you the shirt off his back.

Different types of discipline.

Nowadays, discipline is a lot different from what it was back in the 70s and 80s. I still question if the abuse I took and if it justified, and if I am making too much of it. I know it isn’t normal to instill the fear of God in a child; their parent should be their safe zone, not someone they fear.

From what I remember being a kid, his Mom was manipulative. He has a 7th-grade education and turned out well for how he grew up. We don’t know much about his family. I have seen them a handful of times, but the whole family was always distant from one another. They would only connect at an unexpected family reunion or a funeral. I still don’t know any of my cousins from my Dad’s side. I think this is typical of a highly dysfunctional family. We always celebrated holidays with my Mom’s side of the family.

My Dad joined the military at the age of 17 and would send most of his income home to his mother. He talks about how he wished he had stayed in the military, he loved it, but he had responsibilities back home, a manipulative mother.

The manipulation of my dad's parents.

I remember being a kid and going over to their house in Kentucky. It was an older house by some railroad tracks. The house was falling apart, and I could see daylight through the cracks in the walls. I loved to go and explore the abandoned house next door and walk the railroad tracks when we’d visit.

We would sit in their musty smoke-filled house while their parrot Sam would recite words and phrases he heard throughout the week. At times Sam would cuss, and, as a kid, I found that hysterical. But I didn’t find my Grandma’s manipulation hysterical when we would get ready to leave. She would start crying, and my Dad would send us to the car. She knew the tears meant money; my Dad always gave her money. I believe it upset my Mom; I vaguely remember the conversations between them on the way home. My Grandpa didn’t talk a lot, so, I couldn’t get a read on him.

My Dad’s side of the family is from Hungary, and word on the street was that my Grandpa could make some mean sausage back in the day. Apparently, my Grandpa was pretty successful at one time. Later he would partner up with a guy, and they opened a bicycle shop. Soon after the opening, my Grandpa’s business partner went rogue, and they lost the bicycle shop. When my Grandpa lost his business, they all lived in a single-room motel, and my Grandpa was never really the same.

The military and my mom saved my dad from a life of crime.

My Dad met my Mom shortly before the military; if it had not been for the military and my Mom, who knows where he would have ended up. Maybe jail? I dunno. I know my grandparents didn’t care for my Mom, and my Mom didn’t care for them. I think my Grandma felt my Mom was a threat to her breadwinner, my Dad.

My Dad handles life how he knows how. He was verbally and physically abusive when I was a kid, but that’s what he knew. I can’t fault him for that. I can be upset and bitter the rest of my life or accept him for who he is. I just assume he lacks the awareness to understand his actions. That’s nothing new; it’s a common trait of most of the world.

It doesn’t mean the abuse was Ok; it wasn’t. It happened; there is nothing I can do about it but accept it and continue working on myself. Being aware of what happened and knowing I can’t change it is what’s freeing me from my torture chamber of resentment.

My Dad would work 2–3 jobs if he had to, and most of the time did. If he wasn’t working, my Mom was, and vice versa.

My parents weren’t afraid to work and support their family. My Dad was hands down the hardest worker I have ever met. I’ve seen him ultimately defeated, hobbling up the steps from the pain in his feet, but he got up every fucking morning and went to the factory. We depended on him, and he knew it. He never let us down.

We were never on assistance or went to daycare. My parents made sure one of them was with my two sisters and me while the other worked. It helped that my Mom’s Mom had a house next to ours.

It wasn’t a perfect childhood, but he showed love how he knew how, with action.

Emotions were taboo in our household.

We never said I love you in the house. But my Dad coached my baseball team; he’d take me fishing and showed me right from wrong and that was good enough. I used to love hitting a home-run. I’d cross home plate, and my Dad was there to pick me up and swing me around. After the games, he would take us all out to eat sometimes; the players loved him too.

The night before we’d go fishing, I couldn’t sleep. I remember waiting in my bed to see the hall light come on at 5am. Once the light was on, my whole body would go numb with excitement. I can still smell the lake water as I type this. He would always pat my leg as we got to the lake, telling me, “that’s my boy.” I felt comfort in that slight tap of the leg.

I know he struggles with his anger and feelings most of the time; I can sense it in his energy. And looking back, I see more clearly than when I was a kid. We were never allowed to show emotions. Crying was a big no, no, or he’d give us “something” to cry about. I believe he silenced our emotions because he has trouble expressing himself, but I didn’t realize that as an 8-year-old.

Now my Dad is older and set in his ways now. But one thing is for sure; I wouldn’t trade him for any other Dad in the world.

I’m fortunate I was raised with the values he taught me as a kid. While I’ve made some bad choices relationship-wise, and in life, I know there is better on the horizon as long as I keep working on myself. I’m not the bad person I once thought I was. I am a guy working on personal stuff, more importantly, boundaries. Something I was never taught growing up. The word “no” didn’t exist, and if you said it I was a “bad boy” even if what I said no to was warranted.

I’m not always a bundle of joy to be around, but who is?

My Dad would do anything for anyone. Even a stranger. He has a heart the size of Texas, and I’m thankful he passed that quality onto me.

Working my way through the trauma.

I’m happy I can separate the good qualities I inherited from him and try and equally work on the bad I’ve adapted. It’s not an easy task, but I am getting a better grasp on it through my writings and making drastic changes in my life.

I’m not perfect, and neither is my Dad. And I’m Ok with that.

My Pops doesn’t know any other way.

It’s sad because I wonder how his life would be different if he had been given the proper education and love as a kid.

Who knows? I know he and my Mom have always been there for my sisters and me when we needed them. Through our worst, they were always there.

That’s what being a parent is all about in reality. I know my Dad will never read this, and I’m pretty sure I never told him I love him.

But hey, Dad, if you happen to read this, thanks for everything, and I forgive you. You and I both know the world can be a cruel place.

Love ya pops.

Chris

trauma

About the author

Chris Freyler

Mistake Maker Extraordinaire. Writing from a place I don’t understand at times. I write to help myself, in return hope it helps you. Just another Quora guy.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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    Well-structured & engaging content

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Comments (4)

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  • Tarol A. Jackson2 months ago

    This was so touching. Thank you for sharing

  • Catherine Kenwell2 months ago

    Chris, bravo. Thank you for writing an honest, heartfelt piece. I've written extensively about my parents too... and as I get older, like you, I have forgiven the abuse given a deeper understanding of their family history. Shucks, "brother", I just feel like giving you a big hug. You're on the right track. Just subscribed. ❤️

  • Stephanie Hoogstad2 months ago

    I am amazed as to how much I relate to this. My dad has never physically harmed any of us—that’s the one thing he would never do—but his temper is frightening when it flares, he used to punch walls and doors hard enough to leave dents, he used to frequently break things, and he’s a “functioning alcoholic.” It’s certainly left a mark on my mom and me (my brothers are much older than I am, so they didn’t see him during his worst period). Still, like with your dad, he became that way because of his manipulative parents (and possibly head trauma he got from a bad car accident). They didn’t really hit him, but they made him feel worthless, said that he was like his “crazy” (according to them) grandma who killed herself, and influenced him to stay in a job he hated and still can’t escape rather than going back to school like he and my mom wanted. Unlike your grandparents, though, they were secretly upper middle class/rich and could have helped him out the whole time, especially since he attends all their little dinners and other family events almost religiously. I wish my dad and I both could be like you. Neither of us seem able to get past our trauma. Still, like with you, he’s my dad. We had some good times canoeing, going to air shows, sledding. I wouldn’t change my dad, either, but it’s hard to get past how he used to be, how he sometimes still is. Thank you for writing this.

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