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The Perfect Life (Part 2 of 2)

The speaker referred to “strategies for protection from painful memories.” He talked about unconsciously rewriting childhood history into perfect family memoirs.

Yes, I thought, I was one of them. In seminary we had to take a course in pastoral counseling. The lead professor asked me about my childhood.

“My mother was warm and accepting; my dad was quiet. I had a conventional, happy childhood.” I said more than that—and thought I was telling the truth.

Years later, I was showering and realized I had not seen my family the way they truly were. “My mother was hard-hearted and unloving!” I yelled at my wife. “My dad was mean and brutal!”

Shirley hugged me and said, “Yes. Several times I heard you talk to others about your warm, loving family. I thought your mother was one of the coldest individuals I’ve ever met.”

That opened me up. I had deceived myself (or I could call it lived in denial) and used words like conventional or happy to express my childhood. From that day onward I began to unwrite my family history. A year later, I was able to admit I had been physically, verbally, and sexually assaulted as a child and neither of my parents expressed affection.

When we no longer need the perfect life,
we accept the real one.

2 comments:

Robert said...

This is very timely for me. This morning during my devotion time I had to express to the Lord that I needed to be honest about how my past and abuse affecting me even today. For years I was in denial, even with Him. This morning I realized I needed to just be open with Him and admit that the past has affected me even now at 55 years old...and continues to negatively affect me at times. But, I can do all things with Christ who gives me strength. Admitting that I am "damaged" at some level, allows me to honestly let Him give me strength.

Cecil Murphey said...

Robert, thank you. Denial seems to be one of the major facts in the lives of us who face our abuse in middle- to-late-adulthood. But you faced it! You opened yourself. That's the good news news.