A blistery childhood or a beautiful one. Both leave lasting impressions on us but not always in ways that we realise. A blistering childhood has been the cause of many to grow into beautiful people because they chose to create a world for themselves that did not echo the sadness from which they emerged. Equally so, a beautiful childhood has prompted many to assume a level of entitlement and aloofness that soured their souls and sent people gasping for air when exposed to the stench of their arrogance.

The circumstances of our childhood was probably never a matter of our choosing. Sometimes we may have even made choices that defined it when we were allowed such definition as children in the presence of barely formed adults, but there is a justifiable absolution for children that make such bad decisions in the presence of adults who should have known better. Such kindness is not so easy to dish out for adults who continue to choose badly due to a contaminated childhood.

The motivation behind the actions of parents are rarely known even by the parents themselves. This makes it that much more difficult for the child, the real child, to find a path out of that cycle as they try to understand why they hold such a deep sense of self-loathing, or a vacant stare of expectation, or worse, a longing for completeness.

The pain that sometimes shapes our lives in our early years often end up leaving us ambivalent in our later years. At times it feeds the resilience of our souls in our struggle against a cruel world, while at other times it hampers our expression in ways that make us contribute towards the cruelty we wish to escape. Recognising those traits that detract from our wholesomeness is only half the battle. The rest of that battle is fought for the rest of our lives as we consistently try to unlearn a form of unhealthy expression that we were raised to believe is entirely normal.

I see children that were raised in homes where explicit adult behaviour was flaunted as fashionable, personal hygiene as optional, and vulgarity of expression as humorous; and they struggle to operate in a setting where such behaviour is not tolerated. They struggle to rectify their ways, or reconcile their upbringing with what is demanded of them by society. The harshness of the demand undermines the burden of reality that they carry with them. But even that is a burden that they only reasonably comprehend much later in life.

Until they reach that stage of relative awareness, relative because it’s near impossible to be fully aware of the difference between your normal and society’s normal, they will struggle in relationships that often define them as uncooperative, unwilling, or simply unacceptable relative to what would otherwise be a normal expectation from a normal adult. But such a demand from them is not entirely unreasonable.

Tough love has never been so tough to implement. Parents that find themselves raising children from contaminated environments will likely spend a lifetime accepting that they are perceived to be disciplinarian monsters, while the fruits of their labour will be enjoyed by the normality experienced by their charges later in life. The point that needs to be made is a difficult one to articulate, partly because it holds such prominence for me, and partly because its definition escapes me.

The balance that is needed between discipline and compassion is that much more difficult to strike when the one who is charged with raising the contaminated child is themselves contaminated. Their effort becomes that much more valiant and admirable, but their state, if observed casually by the normal of society, leaves much to be desired.

[The point was barely reached, let alone sufficiently articulated in this post. Much reflection is still needed on this issue.]

4 responses to “Contaminated”

  1. I haven’t read Part Two yet but I really appreciate your attempt to explore relationship between adulthood health and childhood health. I also understand that the link is so complex, so undisclosed, and so unassumed that any initial conversation about it is almost impossible to be adequate. I’m sharing a piece where I attempted to talk about the emotional health relationship between parent and child. You’ll notice that it is Part Four in a series. Lol, hopefully this gives you comfort as you continue to try to technically conceptualize something you intuitively understand.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Dr Dye. I read the post you linked to your comment and generally agree with your views. The key differentiator in approach (for me) is the emphasis placed on understanding the symptoms rather than getting to grips with the root cause. Root cause in this case is not necessarily associated with what started the behavioural patterns, but rather what sustains the negative cycle. I believe that at some point the origination only remains relevant if we afford it relevancy. Acceptance that it was out of our control allows us to focus on what we can do to break the cycle, rather than expending life in trying to understand why it all happened, which is an answer that will often escape us, despite our best efforts to uncover the truth.

      I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Part II. 🙂

      • Yes, there is a definite difference which, based on our line of work, might be required. I didn’t share the link to juxtapose how we are tackling the problem. Instead, I offered it to show, that like you, wrapping my mind around the issue was more than a one-post notion! 🙂

      • Thanks for that clarification. I assumed as much, but thought it important to highlight the different points of departure because it does lead to very different response advice or intervention strategies. Both have merit, but I guess, for me, it depends on the capacity for the recipient to grab the bull by the horns versus needing to understand how the bull got there before deciding to take action. Hope that makes sense. 🙂

        P.S. I incorporated your correction into this comment. 🙂

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