The past can help us make our future or it can hold us back from it. It can make us fear or make us bold. For most of us, however, it is overcoming our past that will lead to a brighter future. Unfortunately we were not raised by perfect people. Our parents were and are flawed human beings with their own baggage from the past. These generation issues have a tendency to stay in families for years and years and get passed down almost unconsciously. A short temper, physical abuse, lying, and more all end up becoming a daily part of our lives growing up. The bad thing is that most children never realize that their normal family lives are not normal at all. Things like being hit for trivial reasons or yelled at or just treated with indifference throughout childhood is not a healthy way to live, and yet many of us have grown up in those atmospheres and seem to expect the same thing from the rest of the world. Even though this is abuse in many ways, we are comfortable with it and thus chose to hang around and form relationships with people that are comfortable with it, mostly to our detriment.
The thing is that we need to let go of our past and redefine what normal and healthy is. We all have ways that we could live healthier lives. Maybe we see food as a reward and thus overeat; maybe we have bad self-images and feel ugly no matter what we do; or maybe we have short tempers and fly off the handle and expect others to be okay with it. Change is not easy but it is worth doing when you gain a new peace and hope in your future.
One of the major things that hold many people back from changing is the fact that you have to admit that you were wrong. That what you grew up in or used to do yourself was not healthy or normal. This can be a hard thing to deal with as no one likes to be wrong. It also implies that you have wasted your time or your life. This is not true. No matter how old you are you still have time to change and you owe it to yourself and those you love to make your life better.
I love a verse from the Bible that says, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…” Joel 2:25a (NIV). I see those lost years spent in distress, anger or depression as years eaten by locusts. They are gone and behind us, and yet things can still be restored better than ever. Instead of focusing on what you have lost, look at what you have to gain. Living a healthy and balanced life is well worth the effort of confronting your past.
In my own life I have only begun the process of understanding what healthy living is like. My family has a long history of enabling and fostering helpless people who abuse those around them. There are two types of people, the givers and the takers. The givers are empty and hopeless because the takers take everything they have. The takers are resentful and abusive because they get everything without working for it and feel frustrated and useless. This is a vicious cycle that has repeated itself generation after generation. Typically it is the women who are the givers and the men who are the takers.
Needless to say this does not foster healthy living conditions. As a child in this type of home I was raised to think in skewed ways. The men were helpless and had to be coddled and never expected to help out in any way beyond being employed, and sometimes not even then. The women were expected to be strong and productive and always loving no matter what the men did. They were supposed to work and take care of the children and the home with no outside help. In fact, from what I was exposed to I always wondered what the point of getting married was. It seemed much easier to just have kids and then get divorced. At least then you would get some money through child support and you wouldn’t have to deal with another big baby to take care of.
As I have gotten older I started to understand that this is not the way families or relationships that are healthy should work. Both parties should give and take equally and there should not be this cycle of sacrifice and greed. Letting go of my family’s idea of relationships actually made me want to find a partner of my own instead of staying single forever. Before I understood what a healthy relationship was I had decided to remain single and spare myself the pain. Now I understand what a blessing an equal partner can be.
Beyond just relational issues we also had issues with respect. Of course you can see where that comes in. How can you respect someone you are taking care of all the time, and how can someone be respected if they never set boundaries or limits? Learning to set proper boundaries without getting upset or frustrated is a process, but it is well worth doing. Having respect for yourself as well as others is very important in living a healthy and balanced life.
As you can see, I am still learning and growing. Overcoming your past is not a one-time thing. It takes a lot of effort and growth to move past what you have been exposed to and into a healthier future. But moving past the past is the only way to find a brighter future.