Christian Self Help
The Line In The Sand
(Part 2) The Line in the Sand - Chapter 9d. - Baggage
5a. Parental Relationships
Another critical element that can erode the walls of the canyon is the baggage, or previous experiences we had growing up. Our parental relationships have formed within us thought patterns that we rely on as truth. We are certain that when we are unsure of something, we can rely on everything we learned as a kid. I will list some examples in the following paragraphs.
When I was a child, my parents were divorced, twice, by the time I was three years old. So, I learned that divorce is OK. If I have problems in my marriage that I canít deal with I have an out. When I was a young adult, I was married. She was a wonderful lady, and there was no real reason to break our vow and our covenant. She had already been married and divorced at least twice before she married me, so that coupled with my deeply rooted belief system, it was no problem to just get a divorce. Instead of honoring my bride at the time and desiring in my heart of hearts to make it work at any cost, I ran away just like a coward.
As I was a growing up, my father was emotionally distant. I observed and I witnessed and consequently I learned how to be angry very well. Because I was so accustomed to thinking that my anger was normal, I carried it right into my mid-forties. I believed my anger was justified based upon the belief system that was built as I grew up. The problem was that my beliefs were based upon self and survival. So, in my fear and loneliness I would look at others through twisted eyes. I knew what was right and they were wrong and it makes me mad. My tendency was to experience an event that was uncomfortable and become instantly angry. Can you imagine the result in my relationships? How could daddy love me? How could my husband do this to me? The most beloved and precious people in my life were hurting, and I continued to hurt them.
There is enough about the subject of anger to write a novel. The perceived reasons for anger, the triggers for anger, the levels of anger, the types of anger, the messages of anger, the receiving of anger, the internal processing of anger, and the devastating pain resulting from anger are all subjects that we should read about. If you experience anger for much of your day, or in particular circumstances, you very likely have an anger problem and must seek help from a trained counselor as soon as possible. I have, and I am glad I did. I can look at life through clear glass now because I trusted a precious Christian counselor. The most important thing he did for me was simply to care about me. Through that care and concern, he gently led me toward the reasons, or circumstances, from my past that trained me to be instantly angry.
My cycle of addiction began when I was about 5 years old. Being in the middle of a broken family is a difficult thing for a child to comprehend. There were many reasons to hide the real me from those around me. After all, how could they like me if they knew how bad I really am? I believed, without even thinking about it, that somehow I was responsible for my parents being apart. I thought, ďIf I can let them see a good little boy maybe theyíll love me.Ē As I strove to put forward the good little boy image, I found that I was accepted and given attention when I was joking around and making people laugh. I became that image. I struggled for the next 38 years to maintain that good little boy image because that is where I felt I was accepted. I didnít even know who the real me was. I mention this piece of baggage, oversize and overweight, because of the impact it would have later in my life.
The addictions in my life became the normal me. I was doing things that some would think as completely unacceptable. I was just living in and through and because of my addictions. I found a sad comfort zone knowing I could manage the lies and the deception and the hiding associated with not wanting to be found out. I was really deceiving myself into a false belief system where I could justify anything, any action or word or even any kind of thought.
What should have been morally correct to avoid in my life became immorally justifiable. My belief system had become so corrupted that, even though I knew something to be wrong, I could choose to do it anyway. I would make my choices based upon the notion that I deserved whatever it was, or that since I had already sinned in that way before there was certainly no way I would ever be redeemed. It didnít matter any more. I didnít even care. I was so sure there was no hope for me that I had just given up trying to hope. And yet, at the same time I was growing tired of maintaining the image, the appearance that everything was great and that I was a happy, good person. What a deception. I was deceiving everyone including myself.
These are some things I took into my marriage: Anger. A belief system based upon lies. Living to please so I could protect myself. Searching for ways to please myself so I could find comfort and ease the pain. Emotional distance - to keep from being hurt. This was the solid foundation I was building my future upon.
Does this sound familiar at all to you? Not that any of my experiences would be the same as yours, but that your experiences might be recognizable. I pray that as you read this, your individual life experiences would become plainly visible to you and that you would have the courage to acknowledge, encounter, and overcome the negative ones. I also pray that you acknowledge and embrace the positive experiences, too. Together, both of these significantly determine how you handle the line in the sand.
It has to be true that because of our unexamined baggage we already have a canyon growing between us. We just donít see it yet. Believing we are walking on solid ground, we come together in hope of living out the relationship we think we have.