How I Learned to Heal My Relationship Blind Spots
November is Ancestral Veneration Month. It is a time to honor our loved ones, celebrate their lives, and heal generational trauma. With that being said, it is difficult to believe that my mother passed away almost a decade ago.
As I reflect on her passing, I am led to ruminate on what her life and legacy taught me. From an early age I can remember my mother being fraught with bouts of depression, hallucinations, and wild rages. She was physically violent towards me from a very early age and treated me more like an adversary who was plotting her downfall, than a child who needed guidance and support.
She was often stressed, angry, and lonely. This was exacerbated by her being the primary breadwinner in our family. My father was self-employed and his contributions to the household often fell short. The bulk of the responsibility rested on my mother's shoulders, and it was obvious that she was caving under the pressure.
Add to this, the violent and explosive relationship she and my father shared. It was not uncommon for the police to be called, threats of self-harm to be wielded, and physical violence to ensue. During those times, I was terrified of my mother. I saw her as evil and aggressive. She was often verbally and at times physically abusive towards my father, myself, and my siblings.
While I hated the way she treated us, it was not until her passing that I began to view my father with a very different set of eyes. It was no secret that mental illness ran in my family on both sides and my father was no exception. He would also fly into rages, lock himself in rooms, and threaten to commit bodily harm. He routinely used me as an emotional dumping ground during childhood to lament about my mother and how cruel she was.
All the while, he saw her abusing me and my siblings and did nothing to intervene. He never protected us. Yet, I can recall occasions, where he asked me, a child, why I wouldn't take his side in arguments and speak up about the way my mother was treating him. Mind you, I could not have been any more than nine years old at the time.
When my mother died, my entire viewpoint shifted. I had always labeled her the unsafe parent because she physically and verbally assaulted me. Yet, my father stood in the background all along, surveying the abuse and allowing it to happen. The conversations I had with him following her passing illuminated another side. I finally saw the person my mother had been living with all those years; a cruel, calculated, and emotionally disturbed individual who wanted other people to fight his battles and rescue him.
I tried to discuss the abuse and get to a point of healing, but I was told that none of it happened, and I needed to move on. Later, he changed his story and said that what happened wasn't that bad, and I needed to get the bitterness out of my heart. All the while, this man was asking me to grieve with him, ignore my own pain, and be his personal therapist. It was no different than those difficult moments in my childhood when I was asked to protect others at the expense of myself.
The fruitless conversations with my father led me to reflect on my adult relationships, both platonic and romantic. As I looked deeper, I witnessed a pattern of abuse, neglect, and discard. It was not uncommon for me to connect with people who felt familiar to my father. They were often superficially charming, made all sorts of promises, and talked a great game. Yet, within months, maybe even weeks their true colors would emerge and the dysfunction I experienced so many years before would rear its ugly head.
After that, I began to be more cognizant of the abusive cycles I participated in, and it dawned on me that my father was never the safe parent. In fact, he was more dangerous because he witnessed the violence and did nothing to stop it. I viewed him as a safe haven because he never hit me but that is not the only way, we abuse others. Emotional manipulation, verbal abuse, neglect, and parentified children are just a few methods that go unnoticed.
My awareness of this began to change the way I felt about others. I no longer allowed people in who felt familiar, because the familiarity was born from trauma. Instead, I began to watch their behavior and listen deeply to my intuition. I looked for controlling, critical behavior or bouts of anger. I also watched for competitive streaks and fits of jealousy. I began to take my time and refused to allow people to rush me. If I did not feel a connection, if I did not feel safe, I was not going in.
That process has saved my life more than a few times. It also preserved my sanity and restored my confidence. I trust myself now. I also trust the Divine. I do not have to repeat the unhealthy patterns my parents modeled for me.
I am my own person.
Remember, it is not always who we attract but who we let in that matters. Sometimes, what feels familiar is not safe. Especially, if we come from a family of dysfunction.
Please listen to your inner voice, observe behavior, and be patient. It will guide you home and keep you safe.
Live the Light
Nicole Bowman is a Psychic, Medium, and Intuitive Artist.
Sessions for the Soul Monday-Thursday from 7pm-10pm ET