Writing this, I think to myself that many people had it worse than me and my issues were minuscule. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I never knew the impact my childhood had on me until I sought help in my adult life.
I grew up watching my parents fight and threaten to end their marriage. There was almost no affection between them and when they finally separated, I became a pawn in between them. My mom told us our dad never wanted children and didn’t love us and my dad would call my mom names and point out that I am just like her. As a result, I had a very rocky relationship with both parents.
My dad had a terrible temper and would occasionally throw things at the wall in front of us or pick us up by our neck and hold us against a wall. My mom also had anger issues, and she often disciplined by digging her fingernails into our arms or hitting me with a bamboo stick and she continued to use violence toward me even into my adulthood.
My mom, after the separation, moved us into a home with her boyfriend. My stepdad’s behaviour was very controlling, and he often yelled and name-called to discipline us for minor incidents like leaving a light on. I never felt as though I belonged. Every night I fell asleep listening to them yell and threaten each other until one day it became physical. My mom told me she did not want me to go through another separation and that is why she chose to stay with my stepdad.
It was not surprising that as an adult I had a very unhealthy view of relationships, and I had difficulty connecting emotionally with my partners and this led to a failed marriage by the age of 27. I had intense anger issues and was mirroring what I had grown up witnessing and these negative behaviours affected not only my marriage but also my parenting skills.
I eventually discovered that my mom and I experienced a similar childhood, and it was obvious that what I was experiencing was the “cycle of abuse”. In an effort to break the cycle, I sought help and developed coping mechanisms to help me deal with the anger I was feeling which in turn, helped me to connect with others emotionally.
Looking back today, I don’t believe my parents ever thought that their behaviour would affect me as severely as it did. In fact, I don’t believe any parent fully considers how their behaviour will affect their children in the future. I only hope that my story will help raise awareness and encourage others to re-evaluate their own lives and act when necessary, so that they, and their children, can have a chance to live a happier and more healthy life in the future.