How Childhood Trauma Shaped Me

This weekend was filled with pride and excitement. My oldest, my baby, my son, turned 16. Where did time go? He is a leader, a young man of character, and he is dedicated to his goals. Some may say he is ” too mature” and “needs to have fun.” Ethan has fun. His fun is listening to his coaches, researching, finding ways to improve himself, striving to be the Captain of his soccer team, getting into the best shape of his life, researching colleges and after he has fulfilled those things, he has a great group of friends he hangs out with. Where did he get this sense of drive and dedication? Ethan is very lucky to have strong men and women in his life who have succeeded against all odds and always managed to make it through hard times. He has been around individuals that make things happen even though it’s hard. I believe he learned from my mistakes and I am quite content with my mistakes becoming lessons.

This is Ethan posing for a picture with me at the house during his party. He had 20 family members come and we gathered to celebrate his accomplishments and showered him with love.

I take pride in raising my children. It hasn’t been an easy road for me, parenting after trauma. Parenting in general is hard. It is a journey where you continuously make mistakes and have to accept responsibility for your downfalls. I believe in apologizing to my children for my mistakes and when I am wrong. I don’t believe Ethan and I would have a relationship like we do if I didn’t admit my mistakes or acknowledge his feelings about my choices.

I learned to be a parent based off of the experiences I had growing up. I vowed never to treat my children as I was treated and to always listen when they speak. It’s the only way they will be heard. It’s the only way you will hear what isn’t being said. I didn’t have a voice growing up, I felt stifled and not a factor in my parents life. I was disposable.  I can’t imagine parenting in a way where I made my children feel less than.

How did I become a good parent? Well, even though I believe my parents could have done a thousand things different, they did a few things right. I learned from their mistakes. My dad always instilled hard work and setting goals for myself. He didn’t accept any other options for my future, but college, and he financially supported my college career. Through his hardness, there was a softness. If you could look past the noise, there were unspoken moments of love in between the screaming and shaming. My dad did the best he could with the hand he was dealt. My mom did the best she could with the hand she was dealt. I am doing the best I can with the cards that are in my hands.

Ethan is 16! Wow! He has a bright future in front of him. I can support him in his journey, even though I may not always agree with his choices. I have a lot to learn. But, I learning each day, with them, through my mistakes and through the wisdom they teach me.

It is possible to raise a family despite your past. It is a daily struggle for me at times. When I have those days, I look back on pictures like these, and re-group. Don’t give up the daily fight, even when it seems impossible. Trauma happened to me, but trauma doesn’t have to consume me. Keep your chin up and believe in yourself.  A horrible childhood full of trauma and pain can be used to push you in a positive direction. It is possible. It isn’t easy. But, it is possible.


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