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Mental Health and My Family

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

My parents never really talked about it. Was it the late 1940s when they were born? Seeing as they're probably in their 80s or 90s now, I'm assuming so. This was the time before the free love of the 60s and the Vietnam war. It was definitely a different time for all involved.

I myself was born in 75. After so many changes had happened in my parents' lifetime. I honestly felt like the child they never wanted, whether this was true or not I'll never know.

When I look back at this time, I can see why they hovered so much. I can see that was their way of being protective, but it got to the point where it was also abusive.

I was kept in such a small bubble that I didn't know that there was anything wrong with my family until I moved in with my abusive boyfriend. It wasn't until years later that I realized that my parents had no clue about mental health issues.

Looking back now and knowing what I do, I realize that mental health and child abuse go hand-in-hand in my family.

It happened one day when my parents were taking Adrian and me somewhere. My dad and I were in the front seat, my mom and Adrian in the back. I'm not even sure what the conversation was about but my mom mentioned to Adrian that anxiety was just a fast heart rate. At this point, I realized she had no clue about anything related to mental health.

I think the reason she didn't even know what anxiety was had to do with when she was born. By no means am I trying to justify the mental health and child abuse issues that I've experienced, but I'm rather trying to make sense of it all. Part of me making sense of it is knowing that she didn't know better and had her own mental health issues.

In my heart of hearts, I want to forgive her for this, but at the same time, she had to know what child abuse was and that it was wrong. I can't believe that she thought it was ever OK to beat me with a belt over the slightest of infractions. Sure, she came from an era of "spare the rod, spoil the child," but even that doesn't explain the harsh physical and verbal abuse I received while growing up in my parents' home.

At the same time, I can also see how mental health and child abuse go hand-in-hand because I still remember the day when my mom was threatening to commit suicide and my dad made me sit next to him on the couch as it all unfurled. Looking back now, I wondered why he never called 911 or asked for help, but now I get it.

I also get that mental health and child abuse was an intrinsic part of my mom being who she was. She herself had very low self-esteem. You witness this when you stop and look at how to this day my dad verbally abuses her.

Unfortunately, I'm a prime example of how mental health and child abuse coincide, but I also hope that I can be a prime example of how one can rise above their childhood and live a fulfilling and successful life. For more stories and information about family trauma, visit us at Healing Family Trauma Pittsburgh.

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