Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Rewriting Life

The speaker referred to "strategies for protection from painful memories." He said many of us, unable to face the reality of horrible childhoods, unconsciously rewrote our family history and called that period of life by many terms, such as happy, conventional, nearly perfect.

Yes, I thought, I was one of them. In seminary, we had to take courses in pastoral counseling. In a personal interview, 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, "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 accept my real family history. A year later, I could admit that I had been physically, verbally, and sexual assaulted as a child and that neither of my parents expressed affection.

God, help me not to rewrite my childhood history.
Instead, help me to accept the real one.

* * * * *

This post is excerpted from Cec's book More Than Surviving: Courageous Meditations for Men Hurting from Childhood Abuse (Kregel, 2018).

1 comment:

Roger Mann said...

Oh man, I did that for years. I convinced myself I had a great childhood and told anyone who asked. As time went on, like you my wife would ask me about my dad and mom and there was a nagging itch in the back of my mind that was uncomfortable with trying to explain what she saw with what I remembered.

Reality has a way of refusing to stay hidden forever. Eventually the dam of denial breaks from the strain and it all comes flooding out, usually in tears. I too had to finally accept the reality of the family I really had and begin to deal with the issues I had refused to look at in my behavior and character all those years from my "happy childhood".

There is much rewriting that I have been doing over the last 10 years or so. I need more paper!