Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
Bringing clarity to the root causes and sources of the family dysfunction will significantly help alleviate the self-blame and shame that abuse victims experience and clear a path to healing and recovery.
Dysfunctional abusive families are fueled by unhealed pain-based maladaptive thinking that has been passed on from generation to generation to generation. Most recently, epigenetic studies are exploring the factors that embed trauma in our cellular genetic memories.
So the abuse that you and I and everyone are experiencing today, at this very moment, along with our emotional pain, was never ours to begin with. They, however, can be traced to unhealed emotional wounds, faulty thinking, and pain from your great great great great great grandfathers and grandmothers.
The Roots of Pain and Abuse in Families
My 87 year old father still shares stories told to him by the elders in the village and in 400 year old songs of attacks from the Turks who took 20,000 men from his island to sell as slaves in Constantinople and Egypt. They ran into the hills to protect themselves! So what did those who survived and who witnessed these vicious attacks along with experiencing the starvation and extreme poverty caused 200 years later by the Greek civil war and Nazis who rampaged the villages do to alleviate the legacy of emotional pain, repressed trauma, and feelings of powerlessness? What about the ones who survived their slavery and torture? On a recent trip to Greece, my guide and esteemed historian Maria, described how her family were refugees from Smyrna after it was burned to the ground by the Turks during the Greek-Armenian genocide in the early 1900’s.
Oh, how they must have suffered and oh, how traumatized they must have been! Could they go to the local clinic for counseling? Or on Facebook for self-help or read a book on healing? I think not! So the trauma became embedded in their cellular memories and repressed in their physical ones. So to survive, they had to become innovative in their methods to alleviate their pain and trauma.
Pain-Filled Families Learn to Prey on Their Own
Monetary or material privilege does not provide genetic entitlement or immunity from abuse, emotional pain, or disease for that matter or guarantee strength or integrity of one’s personal character. No one is immune to pain, folks, or the damage it causes no matter how far families have come or how “privileged” they are. Psychology did not exist back then in the villages and tribes where all our ancestral roots lie. And repressed pain does not stay repressed forever. What did they do? What could they do? This is how, I profess, it more accurately played out.
The ones with character and kind hearts, compassion, emotional intelligence, and consciences and who were born empaths (and most likely inherited the pain coded in their genetics) went on to become the abused and scapegoats and the ones with the evil cold hearts became the abusers, bullies, golden children and narcissists. Now, abuse did not always manifest in physical or sexual violence, because the abusers creatively figured out that could play favorites and neglect, ignore, criticize, diminish, denigrate and invalidate their other children and even learn to live vicariously through their successes that they could brag about in the villages. Of course! They figured out a way they could benefit without doing any of the work of actually being a good parent and sacrificing for their children’s benefit! But they could provide an illusion of power and goodness to their small world with the small vision and faulty belief system that they did.
So these dysfunctional pain-addicted families starved not only for nutritional but also emotional sustenance and preyed off of each other’s energy like blood thirsty vampires, recruited other flying monkeys in their dirty dealings, and used their own helpless children and siblings as hosts, free fodder for the taking. The abusers could not generate their own energy and needed some way to alleviate their deep-seated and now genetically programmed emotional pain. The pain and trauma that were locked in the family’s genetic code and repressed memories were now free to “express themselves” in abuse and exploitation of their own flesh and blood.
What better or more convenient way to self-soothe than to shadow their repressed emotional pain on their own defenseless children and especially the female ones who were less able to defend themselves and the “village idiots” who they could bully and make fun of unhindered with no accountability! The emotionally starved emotionally cannibalized their own to serve none other than themselves. God forbid that the abused should tell the truth or rebel! Those who did were threatened with abandonment or banishment from the village and even death! This became a key component of the dysfunctional unhealthy cultural unwritten and unchallenged “belief code” of the village reflected in the abusive and exploitive dynamics in what we now call “dysfunctional families.”
Leaving the Village “Takes a Village”
Epigenetic studies related to inheriting pain are providing credence to the adage, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Our genetics, thankfully, do not only make us vulnerable to pain, they also predispose us to psychological resilience that was most certainly needed by those who chose to move and live elsewhere or perhaps to merely act on their right to pursue happiness.
People who chose to leave the village had daunting emotional challenges that required much more than packing up and moving. Not only did that have to heal from inherited pain as well as the pain inflicted from the abuse and scapegoating, they had to deal with the unwritten tribal belief systems and the accompanying rejection and aggression and even fear of death. Can you imagine the reaction when someone actually acted upon and used their free will and chose to leave the tribe simply because they were unfulfilled and their souls were starving or they were pursuing their heart’s desire? How dare they! How could they? We all can see the extreme impact of culture in the honor killings of children and siblings whose lives are believed to be of lesser importance than the “shame” brought about by their merely acting on their free will.
Using free will including self-care and self-compassion were frowned upon and severely punished because not only did they threaten the livelihood of the “family” and challenge the village’s and family’s cultural belief system and power balance but they also made the person less available to others to shadow their pain on and threatened their emotional food supply. If those folks became successful? Well, then the abusers could, on a whim and based on how the ego-driven winds were blowing that day, either brag about their accomplishments back in the village or pretend they never happened or simply just lie about them and continue to scapegoat them. So the truly brave and emotionally resilient ones simply left voluntarily knowing that it was all a bunch of glittered crap and nothing but a huge carefully planned illusion created by extremely weak, powerless, conforming, and evil-hearted people. What about the ones who stayed?
The Vulnerable Ones Stay
Well, the ones, for whatever reasons, who stayed continued to suffer and pass the pain-based wounded thinking, distorted beliefs, and trauma coded genetics to their unknowingly vulnerable children. Perhaps, overcome by fatigue and depression, they committed suicide (like 2 of my relatives did) and were never spoken of again. The truly evil “broken” ones passed their evil genes and character weaknesses including the inability to self-soothe and create their own energy to the golden children they conceived and coddled who reminded them of their own selves. As adults, they wanted all the benefits of humanity without doing any of the work and learned to create an illusion of normalcy to groom other kind yet wounded people, pretend to love them, marry them, continue to abuse them, and suck their power and energy and souls from them. Or if the marriages were arranged, then matching an abuser to a scapegoat they could overpower was likely.
This is how the cycle of abuse is perpetuated by the legacy of unhealed wounded thinking that is at the root of dysfunctional and abusive families today and the millions of suffering people seeking alleviation of their chronic emotional pain and nourishment for their starving souls! This is the same legacy of unhealed wounded thinking that has contributed significantly to the pandemic of disturbed characters comprising terrorists, bullies, dictators, narcissists, and criminals across the world today – the scourge of humanity!
Abuse Survivors Can Heal and Break the Cycle
What I find very very interesting and what is most important to understand and grasp is that abuse survivors do have the propensity and the strength of character needed to heal from the damage this crazy making causes once they get away from the abusers! In addition, as we heal, our children heal through us. This is how we break the cycle of abuse.
Let’s explore this.
First, we are all born with the inalienable human rights to pursue life, liberty and happiness. No one was born with the right or entitlement to prevent us from using our free will to act on these rights and become our authentic selves just as our founding fathers agreed to in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and its amendments. And so while abusers can try to sabotage our lives and manipulate our power from us, they can never take away our right to freely pursue life, liberty and happiness. There is also now a collective movement in world-wide healing that supports this vehemently. Read more on Facebook and the power of healing.
However, other more “interpersonal” rights we earn as we mature and grow. For example, respect is earned through our experiences and the knowledge and abilities we acquire and our successes and mistakes that cause us to think about, change, and develop our internal beliefs and strengthen our character. Credibility and trust are also earned. We are not born credible or trustworthy. The rights to be believed and trusted we work for by demonstrating our trustworthiness to others and they to us.
This is how we develop integrity of character. Abusers can temporarily try to interfere with our lives but they cannot prevent us from creating our own unique personal truth and character or make us become someone we are not “designed” to be. They cannot take away our emotional resilience and our drive which are key components to developing integrity of character. Notably, after abuse and trauma, the brain can rewire and heal. Abuse survivors, can unlearn faulty pain-based thinking and replace it with joy-based thinking they come to learn they are worthy of and have the complete right and authority to pursue.
In regards to families, we all create and become part of “families” separate from our birth family all the time. The rules of emotional health apply to ALL families and all relationships. A family of birth is not exempt from these rules because they are genetically related. Invisible genetics do not entitle people to abuse, ignore, neglect, degrade, denigrate, betray, abandon, and crap on others. A position in a loving family is a role of honor that is earned by showing the members love, honor and respect in the same way we do them. That is what emotionally healthy mutually beneficial relationships are. That is what love is. And we ALL deserve that – every darn single one of us! That is a universal right as a human being that we are all born with.
Narcissistic Abusers Cannot Heal
The abusers, interestingly enough, can heal no sooner than they can change the color of their skin. You cannot teach someone with a disturbed or disordered character how to have compassion, a conscience, and a heart. That is impossible. You either have them or you don’t. So while we are all born with the potential to develop a good character, those with disturbed characters lack the ability to develop one and feel entitled to take what they want rather than earn it through hard work like the rest of us. We can see the biggest differences between narcissists and authentically “good” people when it comes to work, commitment, and obligation. Read more on these differences here.
In addition, developing a virtuous character and maintaining healthy relationships require having compassion and a conscience, traits that are lacking and that do not develop in disturbed characters.
Narcissists will, simply, always be disturbed, covert aggressive emotional frauds and thieves, “human parasites.” They may want all the benefits of what conscientious and virtuous people work for and earn, but they will always lack the integrity, strength, power, and authenticity to truly become good people.
And as the truly good people with integrity of character heal their emotional wounds and come to understand their true self-worth, their children will heal through them. And when they do, not only will they and their children live authentic joy-filled lives, they will thrive. This is how we break the cycles of intergenerational abuse rooted in our genetics and our ancestors’ unhealed emotional pain. This is how we heal ourselves and our children. This is how we take our power and free will back and become the authentic versions of ourselves we were put on this earth to be. I cover these issues including a “how to” healing and recovery plan in much more detail in my book, Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips and Tools for Abuse Survivors. You can purchase and read a sneak peek and review of the book here.