How do people overcome early childhood abuse and make it to adulthood in relatively decent mental health, still standing and speaking rationally? Those hurdles in life can lay us low or be the foundation to stand on to forge ahead. There’s no way to say why it goes one way and not the other. If we push the pain away without confronting it. we risk our behavior going awry because it is always lurking under the surface of our conscious minds. I do think one important way to handle the misery is to face ugly memories and do self-examination.
I process certain obstacles through my writing. Celia, the protagonist of my book The Cha-Cha Babes of Pelican Way, has a background of mental abuse, but in an insidious way. Her parents might have given the appearance of being just overprotective but their isolating and control of Celia’s life did much damage to her sense of self-worth. This was continued in her marriage. (It brings to mind the reasons we sometimes choose the person with the worst traits of our parents/caretakers, but that is for another article.) Gabe, her husband, was controlling and demeaned her as much as he could without physically hurting her. Nonetheless, the damage to her image was hurtful and contributed to her spinning into a spiral of failure. It was injurious to her daughter and herself. This isn’t just a work of fiction, it is a pattern that replays itself over and over in many lives every day.
Celia’s decision to start a new life in a retirement community in Florida after Gabe died was a life-changer. She began to look into her self and realized that only she could make herself happy, and slowly clawed her way out of her stupor of defeat. She learned the Cha-Cha with two best friends and turned her life around. It never fails to amaze me when people rise up and make their lives more contented and so many have. That is commendable to be able to examine where we came from and where we are at present. Perhaps if one faces those ugly demons from the past, deals with it and hurls themselves into a better future they can come out standing on two feet and smiling. Memories of the abuse may never go away but they can recede with enough work. And it is work. Hopefully, the anguish will dim.