My father and stepfather were not well men, and my mother lived in a constant state of denial. The two most important men in my life died at early ages due, in part, to their addictions.
My mother, however, is alive and well today, having found a spiritual path of her own. She was even gracious enough to go into therapy with me a few years ago to help bring closure to some of these old wounds and memories. Occasionally I still wonder, "What was she thinking?" But for the most part, I know she did the best she could with the tools she had at the time. Her father was an alcoholic, and her own mother traveled a great deal.
We are all products of our environment, but I believe the cycle can stop with us. Just as addiction affects the whole family, so does recovery. Today, nearly everyone in my family is in recovery or on a spiritual path of some kind. It is wonderful to be part of a life-affirming cycle, instead of a life-destroying one.
Happiness: Choosing Forgiveness Over Anger
Forgiveness heals both the person being forgiven and the one forgiving. My anger tied me to my father and to my stepfather in negative ways for years and blocked me from having healthy relationships with other men.
While my father used words and animals to tease and terrorize me, my stepfather preyed on the budding young woman I was becoming. From the time I was around ten, my stepfather was sexually inappropriate with me. By the time I was thirteen he was turning me on to marijuana and trying to get me to have sex with him. It got so bad that by the time I was fifteen, I stopped coming home from school because my stepfather worked nights at his auction gallery and was home alone in the daytime.
A school counselor became concerned when my grades plummeted, and my absenteeism skyrocketed. The counselor stepped in, and everything that was going on in our house came to light. My mother confronted my stepfather and kicked him out when he didn't deny it.
A Fresh Start -- Over and Over Again
A year later we all moved into a new house together for a fresh start. Within months, my stepfather was doing even more drugs and brought his girlfriends right into our home. I resented him and I resented my mother for putting up with his behavior.
Finally, my mother took on three jobs so she could leave my stepfather. And leave him we did. However, the scars of living with someone addicted to drugs took their toll, and eventually I became addicted to cocaine and alcohol myself.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
My own recovery process started when I got off the party circuit, put down the chemicals, and began living a life based on practicing spiritual principles, including forgiveness of others. For a long time I felt the things my stepfather did were unforgivable and was too confused to even understand my mixed emotions toward my mother. It took time to work through these feelings.
Today, I know what happened wasn't right. And although I do not condone the things the adults in my life did, in my heart of hearts, I do forgive them. Forgiveness is a process, not an event. But learning to forgive the seemingly unforgivable brings peace.
The Storm Is Over
The road forward is also the road back. I wish it weren't so, but it is. I can't move forward into living fully unless I am willing to embrace the past.
When I started writing this book, I worked with the index cards, accessing my right brain, my creative side, allowing me to speak the truth without the internal critic's input. I knew what I wanted to write. However, once I started writing on the cards, only the past came up.
At first I thought I was ridding myself of blocks and didn't pay much attention. Two, three, four, and more days passed, and all I wrote about were memories from my childhood -- painful memories, things I had not thought of in years and didn't want to. It took four days of writing all around my stepfather's sexual advances toward me before I faced what happened.
The memories came flooding back: the terror I felt leaving my bedroom when he was home, the awkwardness of running into him in the hallway, the shame of admitting how absent my mother was. I hate remembering my past and the things it led to. Often, I wish I had had a perfect childhood. But the truth is, I didn't. And I can't live authentically today unless I am honest about yesterday and its effects on me.
Removing the Roadblocks
It wasn't until I removed these roadblocks that I was able to truly live my bliss of writing. My father's judgments got in the way. My mother's unavailability left me with major self-worth issues: Wasn't I worthy of her time? Am I worthy of my dream? And my stepfather's addiction to pills and his sexual advances greatly altered my path in life.
I learned I am a road that leads both ways: to the past and to the future. But the only way to travel this road is to feel the gravel beneath my feet each day. Acknowledging the past frees me of it, releasing its effects on me. No longer controlled by people, circumstances, or substances, today I am free to be whomever I choose. I stand tall, knowing everything happened for a reason. By facing the past, I am free to embrace the future.
Today, I am whole, complete, and perfect. There is no shame or judgment in me. I have faced and released my demons.
Today's Action: Give Your Past a Voice
Take time today to look at any area of your past that needs a voice. Allow the younger versions of you to tell the truth about anything they need to. Be courageous and face any remaining demons. The truth will set you free.
Tell the truth about your family today, either on index cards or to a trusted friend. Whether it's someone who has been through something similar, an older relative who has a broader perspective, or therapy, seek out whatever you need to help heal the past.
Open your heart and allow forgiveness to melt any long-held resentment, first by acknowledging the pain, anger, or sadness. Then ask yourself if possibly the person who hurt you was harmed by another at some point. With compassion in your heart, see into the other person's heart and know they must have been doing the best they could with the tools they had at the time.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Capital Books, Inc. ©2001. www.capital-books.com
Letting Your Heart Sing: A Daily Journal for the Soul
by Deborah Tyler Blais.
This is a true journal for the soul. Letting Your Heart Sing contains 365 heartwarming stories and daily actions that guide readers toward their own fulfillment. The book covers a range of topics such as dealing with loss, addiction and codependency, healing relationships, overcoming obstacles, walking through fears, and increasing self-esteem. By weaving a song into each story, Letting Your Heart Sing reaches out to readers and evokes cathartic memories and emotions. Daily actions stretch readers beyond their comfort zones creating shifts in consciousness.
Info/Order this hardcover book
About the Author
Deborah Tyler Blais leads transformational workshops and lectures around the country on a variety of spiritual topics including "Letting Your Heart Sing as Means to Wellness" Her story, "Dharma" was published in Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul. A native Floridian, Ms. Blais currently lives in Hollywood, Florida, with her husband Gary and is passionately devoted to inspiring and motivating others to create lives filled with joy, peace, and abundance.