“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ~Anne Lamott
To say I had a tough life would be a gross understatement. Growing up in a strict Catholic Italian family I endured my fair share of emotional and physical abuse. I was unloved and suffered great violence at the hands of both my parents, mostly my father.
No one ever talked about this. On the outside, we were the ‘perfect’ family. Both my parents had decent full time jobs; Mom was heavily involved in the church and was the pillar of the community. Everyone respected and liked my parents.
Growing Up Scared
I spent most of my teenage years terrified of my parents. I hated them and wished I had a normal mom and dad like my friends did. I craved love, compassion, and affection. I so desperately wanted a normal life.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t winning any “Teenager of the year” awards, but I’m sure my punishment never fit any crime I committed. Dad’s brutal force and mom’s lackadaisical attitude toward it all had me wishing I was dead. On many occasions.
I have very clear memories of dad storming downstairs into my bedroom after an evening shift at work, ripping off my blankets, pulling me by my leg out of bed, and whipping me. He stopped when he was tired.
I never knew when these random visits would happen. They just did.
I feared coming home after school, I feared when they came home from work, I feared bedtime.
Long after I moved out and had a child of my own, my mom became parent of the year. No one ever spoke of the abuse. It happened. It was their normal. And life went on.
My mom finally became the mother I longed for. Dad wasn’t too far behind. Still unloving to me, he adored my child and with that, finally treated me somewhat like a human being. My parents would do anything for me and my son.
I welcomed these new parents into my life. Loving, supportive, caring, and affectionate. Mom became my best friend. Dad became a father figure to my son. I appreciated this, as I’d separated from Julian’s father when he was just eighteen months old and we never saw him again.
Through the Years
As time went on I maintained a very close relationship with my parents. With my father it was mostly for my son; with my mom, it was simply because I let bygones be bygones. I forgave them both and we just moved on.
I carried the trauma with me throughout my entire life. I spent a lot of time healing and growing. I needed to do that for me. I wasn’t the least bit interested in carrying all that heavy weight around. I had to learn to let it go. And I did.
I let it go through writing, much to my family’s dismay.
Finding My Voice
I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, but I discovered blogging. At first I was blogging about fun Feng Shui stuff. Then I slowly slipped into personal development, and there I found my voice.
I would share my stories and my readers would reply. They felt me. They totally got it. I wasn’t alone in my healing, and I realized that people desperately needed to hear my stories so they could heal too.
At first I would share stories of healing from bad relationships (Lord knows I had enough of them), and then I started sharing stories on self-confidence and self-love. The more I wrote, the more impact I was having on others.
I had found this voice that was helping people around the world, and I was more than happy to use it.
And Then It Was Time
I held back for the longest time on sharing my family trauma. I wasn’t sure. Should I or shouldn’t I? Will I hurt people? Will I help people? I struggled with this for years, until one day I finally put it out there.
I wrote of the trauma, the pain, and the abuse. I poured my heart out about the lack of love and encouragement in my childhood—two things every kid deserves from their parents. I spoke of random beatings and being terrified.
The replies and emails I received from people around the world shocked me. They thanked me for helping them forgive. They cried. They asked me how I did it and how they could let go and move forward.
Finally, something good was coming from all this pain. I was not only healing myself, but helping others heal too. The more I wrote, the more we all healed together. And it was a beautiful thing.
Not Everyone Shared My Enthusiasm
I was sure, without a shadow of a doubt, that none of my family would ever read my stuff. Surely none of them were open minded enough to read self-help stuff, especially mine. They didn’t read blogs.
They followed the news and immersed themselves in negativity and drama. They craved and hung on to misery and trauma. They’re not going to read anything from me ever. I was positive of this.
I was wrong.
Someone read a blog. I’m not sure who it was exactly, but I have my suspicions. A cousin perhaps. I’ll never know and at this point, it no longer matters. Someone read a blog and shared it with other members of the family.
It was a good one. It was a Mother’s Day blog, and I went on about how my mom wasn’t always the mother of the year. How she beat me and let my dad do the same. I talked about how not all moms deserve to be honored on this special day.
However, in my defense, I closed this piece with how my mom later became my best friend and the mom I had always longed for. No one read that part apparently.
I didn’t become aware that my relatives had read my post until my mom’s funeral in February of 2019.
My Final Goodbye
Mom had been suffering with Alzheimer’s for the last fifteen years. We were waiting for her to die. We wanted her suffering to hurry up and end. (Dad had passed away five years earlier).
I’ve been living in Guatemala for the last four years and hummed and hawed about whether or not I should return to Canada for her funeral. I had said goodbye to her when I left Canada.
Somewhat reluctantly, I made the decision to return, be with my sisters and family, and say my final farewell to mom. And besides, I hadn’t seen most of my family in a long time. I was looking forward to catching up with them.
That never happened.
Being Shunned at My Mother’s Funeral
I arrived in Canada and spent the first few days catching up with friends and two of my sisters. I was looking forward to seeing the rest of my family over the next two weeks. The day of mom’s funeral I knew I would see them all.
Not the best place for a family reunion, but isn’t that usually the way? Weddings and funerals?
I walked into the church and greeted a few people. Then my eldest sister walked in and brushed right past me, uttering a very brief and cold “oh, hello” as she continued to walk away. That’s odd, I thought. We’ve always been pretty close.
Then another family member walked by without even a word. Hmmm. And then another one. I was numb. What was going on?
We all congregated in the church for mom’s service, and the whole time I was confused and saddened by the fact that my family was shunning me. Why was this happening? Especially on this day?
The Final Straw
After the ceremony, we all headed to the basement of the church for fellowship. There, even more family members ignored me. I’d say hi, and they’d turn and walk away, leaving me standing with my heart broken and my jaw on the floor.
I still didn’t know why I was being treated like this, though I had my suspicions—that someone had read a blog. And sure enough, two days later, I found out.
My family members wanted to strangle me. They were disgusted with me. I embarrassed the family. I was a disgrace.
This is How We Heal
I spoke to no one after that aside from one sister. She understood.
I found my voice and lost my family. I learned how to use my voice to help others heal, but not everyone understands this or is ready to heal. Keeping family secrets is sometimes more important.
I long to have them back. But I realized this is also part of my healing, since it’s led me to release things and people that no longer serve me or my higher good.
It breaks my heart into a million pieces to know that my family will choose losing a relative over healing. It frustrates me to think that people would rather stay broken, tormented, and in silence than repair what needs to be fixed.
But I know I’ll never make them understand any of this, or grasp the concept that anger is toxic, negativity is poison, and only in love and forgiveness can we heal what hurts and move beyond the past.
What’s Your Story?
Too many of us keep our stories buried deep inside, afraid to share them with the world. Afraid of upsetting the apple cart. Embarrassing our families. We keep the trauma and the pain to ourselves, hiding behind secrets and drowning in shame.
I did that for years, but when I finally released the truth I was set free.
What’s your story? What family secrets and lies are you keeping buried deep inside that are tormenting your soul? It’s in talking about them and sharing our stories that we can heal from the pain.
It is also in sharing our stories of pain and recovery that we can help others find healing and freedom too. Generational curses can end when we speak up and speak out.
Always remember, the truth will set you free.
My Final Goodbye
My time with my family has come to an end. They are no longer part of my life (aside from a few). My heart is broken and I know without a doubt, this healing will take a bit longer, but it’s necessary.
I know how hard it is to forgive. I also know that some people will never choose forgiveness and would much rather live with anger and hate.
My wish and sincere hope is that one day, they will see that forgiveness will set them free.