Photo Credit: Genevieve V Georget @gen_georget
When I wrote Around the Table, I focused on sharing the harmful repercussions of being brought up in an authoritative parenting environment. I was intentional about telling my story in a way that described how my emotional development was directly related to the misogynistic behaviour that detrimentally affected my personal evolution. My first recollection that something wasn't right was as a young child of five who became a victim at the hands of authority.
It is not a child's fault when they instinctively experience the shame placed upon them. The degree to which damage occurs and how well children can emotionally manage the patriarchal and matriarchal response is conducive to the range of sensitivity with which they are born. The more sensitive, the more crazy they may feel. Some endure irreparable side effects while others live a life relatively unscathed—or they think they do. I was high on the pedometer of sensitivity, so I did not cope with the scope of what I interpreted as insensitivity surrounding me.
Throughout my writing, while using my process, Daring to Share Your Story: An Authentic Writing Guide, I became the subject of my research project using self-discovery to determine why I seemed to be the only one in our family adversely affected by this generations-old authoritarian system. Emotional detachment became my sword to cope with the pain of believing I was unloved. The clarity I developed using this self-guide workbook allowed me to determine how and why my personality evolved into the dichotomy of a defensive, defenceless, right or wrong person who, over time, believed she was unworthy of experiencing joy.
The work inspired me to write and invest in a year-long study of how and to what degree the people in my life positively and negatively influenced my developed personality. I often wonder who I would have become if I had been surrounded by unconditional love from the very start. My memoir became an obvious account of the emotional trauma created through the conditional love I received and repelled.
During my familial research and the childhood memories I narrated in chapter II, I recognized how similarly influenced my father was by his father as I was by mine. In my eyes and within the "cane incident" with my grandfather, I believed he was a tyrant much scarier than my father. A the time, having the limited awareness and wisdom of an 11-year-old, I didn't understand or associate my father's authoritative behaviour towards me as the consequence of his father's parenting style. I was just afraid and steered clear of both of them.
The beauty of my unarticulated subconscious belief that the world is filled with dichotomy created a resilience in me that kept me unknowingly forging ahead towards the sensation of the kind of love I longed for. I would never have been motivated to do so had I not experienced said love from my grandmother. She was the polar opposite of my grandfather, which I describe in her "cane story." Because of her I experienced the difference in loving styles within my physical and emotional responses to them. As a result, I began consciously seeking and incorporating moments of ease, humour, and when I was genuinely loved into my story—the obvious dichotomy affirmed that I could not acknowledge suffering without experiencing joy and vice versa—the contrast is what made either a reality and provided the clarity about what I wanted and deserved.
Preparing to write my second book, I believe the underlying message will share more segments of lightness than the seriousness of life I dwelled on in the first. There is no doubt that I was relentless in fulfilling the quest to dim the darkness to get to the light eventually—but admittedly, it was and still is an arduous mountain to climb! Heightening my self-awareness provided the ability to confidently process my trauma and seek joy. Nevertheless, I accept that my past continues to lead me to a summit that can't be reached without people who show me a different way than I was programmed to follow.
Whether adversaries or allies in my mind, they teach me something, encouraging me to press on through to the victories of rediscovering varying levels of my authentic self—it has been a 55-year unveiling of sorts accomplished by being open to fully understanding who I am and was, which wasn't always very complimentary. But I was and still am, naked to the world, recognizing the wins that every painful step took me to the next one with barely a break in the steady beat of agony. I achieved so much gain from each devastating loss because the people I had on my side relentlessly cheered me on!! They were part of the dance of loss and gain...
Yes, the losses involved people—damaged relationships that will never be the same or even close to being fully repaired. However, these casualties were the tradeoff for my search to get closer to achieving happiness. The familial guilt was overwhelming at times, but I was programmed to be unworthy of the gift of euphoria, or at least, that's what I interpreted when in their presence as I innocently absorbed their commitment to deceit, shame, regret, manipulation, betrayal, and the sometimes unconscious self-righteousness that comes when stepping over the line from sanity to insanity. I fought it all tooth and nail but learned that I would not achieve freedom at war and have thus put away my sword and surrendered to live in line with my true essence—the one that took me over five decades to unleash.
I had very little clarity about how this unfolded when I was in the thick of it all. However, now, when I am fraught with sadness, I know that a glimmer of happiness is just around the corner. It's accepting the dichotomy of life that inspires me with hope and love.