“You are one step away from a completely different life.” ~Mel Robbins
When I was twenty-six, I lost my father to suicide. I was heartbroken and very angry.
my dad wasn’t the best. Ever since I was little, he would criticize everything I did. I was never good enough for him and I was where he vented his anger through emotional insults.
It never stopped and I was always on guard around him… until the moment he lost his life.
He could also be a loving, kind, funny, warm person, but my nervous system just couldn’t relax around him. I didn’t know what actions would make him angry.
Then suddenly he was gone.
I was angry because he gave me so much pain growing up and now he has left me.
I loved this person so much and was upset that I was in such deep pain without him. It made no sense to me. My life must be better now that his constant abuse is over.
But that was just the beginning of my emotional breakdown. Children love their parents unconditionally, no matter how we are treated. But when we project our parents’ pain onto us, we fail to love ourselves.
Now that the abuse is over, it’s time to address all the emotional scars he’s inflicted over the years.
But I resisted this and got stuck. I struggled with romantic relationships and was subconsciously dating my father’s version.
I was filled with self-loathing. He may have passed away, but his criticism was very much alive in my head! And I was now persecuting myself for everything.
I may have loved him, but I didn’t love myself because he taught me that I was worthless.
I was helpless and in so much pain. I numbed this pain with the tools he gave me: wine, TV, food, and caring for other people. It wasn’t necessary.
I didn’t know how to stop feeling like I was doomed for the rest of my life because of the trauma I had as a child. I had even denied having experienced any childhood trauma.
Why did I feel the same way when the man who caused me pain is gone?
I lay in bed at night with this immense pain, longing for someone to love me, but I was looking for it all in the wrong places.
I was trapped in my emotions and felt like there was no way out.
Now, more than 15 years later, I am sitting in my room, in a safe and peaceful home, living the life I never thought possible. I married the best man while doing a job I love.
I feel that life is a gift and no dream is unrealizable. The pain that kept me awake at night is gone, replaced by love for myself and love for my father.
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself these nine things to move forward with the life I created. If you too grew up with an abusive parent, my list might help you too.
1. It wasn’t your fault.
We have no choice, so we put our parents on a pedestal as children. We need them to survive. When my father persecuted me for not being quiet or pleasing to him, I interpreted it as “I’m not good enough” and it was all my fault.
We often take full responsibility when our parents abuse us. But what was their story? how did they grow up? Did someone teach you how to balance your emotions?
I know my father was having a hard time. He was grieving the loss of his parents and his difficult childhood. He was not given the tools to manage his emotions. He showed how to knock them down and project them. He was taught how to drink to paralyze them.
He came home from a job he felt he had to do, tired and stressed, and blamed others for helping him calm down.
Understanding this freed me from the hook. It also helped me forgive him. It brought me peace. I started to understand him and his trauma. He was repeating the survival patterns his parents had taught him.
This is a generational trauma and not his fault. But it was his responsibility to keep the children safe.
2. Return injured child to parent.
The version of me who was still hurt and felt this pain of being loved was still alive in me after all these years. A 7-year-old who was yelled at for being loud, a 13-year-old who didn’t study enough, and a 25-year-old who wasn’t in front of his father. All these parts of me had unmet needs and were in pain.
You can’t change the past, but you can go back in time in your imagination and be the parent you need.
I imagined taking Baby Me out of the house where she was born and raised and living with me as an adult. Told her parents to get her treatment and sort themselves out before getting her baby back.
I imagined hugging her and telling her how special she was. Over time, this helped heal that deep pain.
3. Work on self-love.
I always sought love and validation outside of myself.
I was never taught or shown that I needed self-love and self-care.
I told my younger self to take a step back from pleasing others and finding a man. Told.
For example, talking to myself with love and kindness, spending quality alone time, buying gifts for myself, etc. These were all things I wanted in a man, but I could do it myself. I needed to start.
I needed to spend time each day loving myself and listening to my needs instead of ignoring them. water? healthy eating? just take a breath? Being in nature to ease my anxiety?
It took me a while to learn to listen to and meet my own needs. It felt unnatural. It was a new behavior that I had to repeat every day, but it soon became second nature.
4. Know your shadow.
We all have dysfunctional parts and unhelpful behaviors.
For me, it was emotional eating, drinking wine, chasing down emotionally unavailable men, and taking care of my family.The last two made me miserable.
But I blamed the man and my family for being needy. I took no responsibility for my actions.
I felt helpless over how others treated me. I was trapped in this victim state and then paralyzed by food and alcohol.
Knowing my shadow and recognizing my toxic behavior were the first two steps to change.
When men treated me poorly, I stopped trying to prove my worth, changed my behavior and walked away from the relationship.
When I was hurt, I learned how to love myself instead of chasing the love of others.
Ask yourself: what am i doing Then work on a step-by-step plan to change the behavior. Small steps are important in this process because trying to do too much at once can be overwhelming.
5. Get help.
It takes time and effort to change and heal toxic behaviors. When I was struggling with change, I gave my younger self permission to ask for help. For example, quitting toxic relationships and drinking was a big challenge for me. Finding someone who had already gone through the transformation I was looking for was so worth it.
This could mean listening to podcasts, reading books, reading blogs like this, posting on social media, or investing in collaborating with people who have already done the work for you. There is also
When working with someone who has already made the changes you seek, they can outline the steps they have taken.
6. Enter the body.
I used to have my head floating and very disconnected from my body. I didn’t feel safe to be scared, so I had to do it to live my life!
I told my younger self to slow down and notice how her body was feeling.
For example, one particular relationship made my heart beat with fear. This was a sign that they weren’t good for me.
I also told her to find ways to bring her body back into balance by releasing stress and fear.
For example, breathwork techniques, movements, and tapping Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can all help you process your emotions instead of running away from them.
7. It’s safe to tell the truth.
I have always been incredibly loyal in relationships. Growing up with a terrible father meant that relationships had very few boundaries and expectations. This was the only way I could have any kind of relationship with my father.
I tell my younger self that it’s okay to move on and off from relationships that don’t feel good and aren’t safe, even family.
I let her know that I can always express my truth in the relationship and explain when boundaries are crossed, but I also tell her that it is okay to leave.
8. Celebrate all your progress.
The journey of healing and transformation takes time! It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Celebrating small victories every day is so important. For example, “I meditated every day this week” or “I always said yes, but I said no to the invitation so I could take care of myself.” Changes start small and grow.
It feels so mountainous to climb, especially in the beginning, so it’s very important to keep track of everything. It encourages me to keep going. Seeing small changes shows that your efforts are paying off.
Young me, I had no family to celebrate my small victories and growth. They focused on my imperfections and were very critical. Helps you feel!
9. Set intentions and dream big.
Set small goals each month to improve your life and keep moving forward. This could be for your personal growth, relationships, physical health, emotional health, money, love, or work.
For example, make your goal very small, like “Don’t text your ex in January.”
I encourage you to set an intention to take better care of yourself. Break this down into daily tasks and repeat for the month. Also, if you don’t know what you need to work on, your task for the month might be to read a book that can help you find it.
With intention, you can create the life you dream of. But we often don’t know what our dreams are. Calm down and find out what makes you happy.
It reminds me of a younger me looking out my bedroom window hoping for a safe home. Thinking about that girl and her life she deserves. Live a full and fulfilling life, just like your own child. This allowed me to dream bigger dreams of building a life that is not only safe but also happy.
You deserve a great life too! A life that heals and thrives, not a life stuck in the pattern of surviving and playing small. Your parents treated you because you were hurt, not because you weren’t good enough. You were always good enough, but now you have the power to take daily steps to change your reality so you are no longer tainted by trauma.
I am living the most incredible life right now. It was a healing journey and still continues. I wish I had done these things sooner, but it’s never too late to take the first step on a new path! i believe you.