Parents are the primal unit of a family. However, because of a parent’s lack of emotional maturity, their behaviours can result in the creation of a functional or dysfunctional family unit. Dysfunctional families take many forms.
When individuals hear the term dysfunctional they may automatic think domestic violence or sexual abuse or child abuse. However, those are some of the obvious cases. Unfortunately, individuals tend to believe that because their family is not like that then they do not have a dysfunctional family. That however maybe not be the case. Before a family gets to the physical abuse, there has to exist emotional abuse. What some individuals may not be aware of is that emotional abuse within a family unit can exist for years without it becoming physical abuse. Because emotional abuse is not expressed as a physical thing, some individuals may not even realize that they are living within a dysfunctional family. A family may look great on the outside to the Seeing Eye, but they may really be hiding a cemetery filled with skeletons in their closets.
Family Secrets and Problems:
There are some families that believe it is a betrayal and violation of the trust of the family to discuss family problems with outsiders. Families tend to have that approach because there are things that they want to remain hidden and they are ashamed of it and it is also a sign of control. It is helpful for families to understand that because of their closeness to the individual member who may have the unresolved issue, it is advisable for that member to receive help from a qualified professional on the outside rather than speak to the family. Also the family regardless of their background may not be the healthiest entity to speak with. There are certain problems experienced within the family that needs to be discussed with outsiders in order for there to be not only an objective view, but for the individual to feel comfortable enough to really open up during their sessions.. There is also the factor that based on a family’s views and beliefs, the member that has the issue won’t feel a hundred percent comfortable in discussing their feelings especially if they feel that their issues would challenge the beliefs and views of the family.
Questionable Behaviour Outside of the Marriage:
If you have ever witnessed your father flirting or displaying inappropriate behaviour with someone else and he is still very much married to your mother, you are living in a dysfunctional family. Same goes if the parent is your mother. If you know that your father is having an affair and your mother knows about it and not only does she hate it, she is depressed over it and your father still persists, then you are living in a dysfunctional family. What is even more detrimental is actually seeing either parent having the affair while still married.
Petty Behaviours by a Parent:
We all have our quirks. The things that annoy us may seem silly to others, but nonetheless they annoy us. The things that annoy women may seem silly to men and vice versa. However if your mothers issues are not respected by your father, even if it is not understood and he continually does the very things in the house that your mother hates, you are living in a dysfunctional family where one or both parties are not behaving as adults and setting proper and healthy examples for the children. If your parent was ever trying to compete with you when you were a child or even now as an adult that is another sign of dysfunctional behavior.
Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour with Children:
While this one may be a given, there are some family members who feel that sweeping sexual abuse or sexual inappropriateness of their child, either by an uncle, brother, sister, grandparent, under the rug is the best way to deal with such situations.
Healing Your Life:
Growing up in any of the aforementioned environments can be emotional destructive if not dealt with. It is especially hard for the children to know if they should still love or hate their parents. They still love their parents but they hate the pain their parent’s behaviour is causing each other or has caused them. Some children have developed the attitude that their parent’s issues have nothing to do with them so they will still love their parents so they will not get involved. However, that attitude is another symptom of a dysfunctional environment. The unhealthy behaviours of parents do affect the children and sometimes the damage is irreparable. This does not mean that you won’t be able to live a healthy life nor does it mean that you or any of your family members are dysfunctional. What it does mean is the elements that make up the family unit are dysfunctional.
Growing up in such an environment will affect you in your adult life. It is commendable if you vow within yourself to not be like your parents and make sure your children do not grow up as you did. However, without a proper understanding of how your family issues have affected you, you will not be able to do things differently without having to shut down your emotions. Unfortunately, most individuals choose to shut down their emotions because they may feel that having or expressing too much emotion will get them in the same situation as their parents. Actually, feeling your emotions and dealing with them as they rise to the surface will help you to become emotionally healthy and thus avoid repeating your childhood when you do begin to have your own family. While some forms of dysfunction can cause serious mental, physical and emotional harm, they may not necessarily be life altering if individuals are willing to do the work required.
At some point in our lives we all desire intimacy. There will come a time when we will seek to share our lives with that special someone. However, because we have lived most of our lives with our emotions on lock down, it will create a paralyzing effect on our lives leaving us fearful of sharing our lives with anyone even with ourselves. This would be unfortunate for us and for others because we would be denying ourselves and others the joy and essence of who we are.
To truly find the love we deeply desire, we first have to look back at our childhood and see how the issues within our family dynamic has influenced our lives in the past and present. If we do not come to terms with those issues, not just from our childhood, but also in how they have affected our adult lives, then we won’t be able to live a truly healthy life. Getting to the bottom of our emotions takes hard work. It is not for the faint-hearted. The pain of toxic emotions rising to the surface is enough to knock down a seven hundred pound tiger, but confront them we must if we are striving for emotional health and strength.
Working through your emotional baggage will feel as if you are traveling through a deep, dark tunnel. Be patient with yourself. You will be amazed to find that as soon as you work through your emotional pain, chronic illnesses that you have been suffering from for years will slowly disappear. Dis-ease is the guilty element in a majority of the illnesses we suffer from.
Do not be afraid or ashamed to seek help from a mental health therapist. No one has to know your business. Your health is what’s most important to you. For some, main-stream therapy do not work, but alternative therapy such as dancing, painting, volunteer work or other sources of artistic work may be better or a combination of main-stream therapy and alternative therapy. There are those who have a strong religious background and may feel comfortable speaking to their religious leaders. If it works great, but remember the ultimate goal is get you on the path to better emotional health so if something is not working for you, you owe it to yourself to seek other options that may work better for you. It is important to remember that your religious leaders are not trained Psychologist and as a result they may not be able to provide to give you with the appropriate help that you may need for your emotional, mental and physical health. They may only be able to give you spiritual advice, however, in some cases you may need more than that.
As you begin to work on your emotional health it may not be a good idea to be around family or any other individuals who may send you spiraling back down into a place that you are working to get out of. You can step back when you feel you are stronger. It is perfectly okay to step away again if you feel that you are still not strong enough. Take all the time you need to get you on the path you would like to travel. As you travel on your Spiritual journey of healing your past and creating and finding happiness in your present and in your future utilize anything that will get you on the path to emotional health. Whether you decide to share your life with someone special or you decide to have children or just be by yourself, you owe it to yourself to step into your life emotional, physically, mentally healthy and completely whole.
Trudy-Ann Ewan, Founder and Executive Director of Create Your Passion Creative Life Coaching, is a Creative Life Coach, Inspirational and Motivational Speaker who specializes in the healing of mind, body, heart and spirit. She works with individuals who are seeking to heal their past and move forward into a more (w)holistical life. To learn more visit her website at createyourpassion.com where you can sign up for her free informative Newsletters, participate in interactive quizzes and Coaching Assessments and where you can also join her coaching program. You can join her on Facebook: tinyurl.com/createyourpassion