As children of alcoholic parents many of us tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time dwelling on our shortcomings and blaming our parent’s or others for our difficulties in life. We spend so much time either trying to be good little soldiers, or (worse yet) we take up a life of dangerous excesses in a desperate cry for help.
While working on this article, I had been experiencing a bit of writer’s block. I spent several days berating myself as my deadline loomed. I started blaming my parents for not instilling me with confidence, for my lack of progress and my inability to get my work done. Languishing in the face of my imminent defeat, I sat back and began to conjure up all the possible consequences of my failure. The feelings then turned to anger and resentment as the blank stare of the screen and the blinking cursor were seemingly mocking me…it was then I heard these words coming out of my i-pod…
There are people in your life who've come and gone
They let you down, you know they hurt your pride
You better put it all behind you baby; cause' life goes on
If you keep carryin' that anger, it'll eat you up inside, baby
Forgiveness is something we often think of in terms of others, but have you forgiven yourself? Have you been able to let go of the things you have done, or said, or that hold you back from living the life you deserve? People often spend so much time finding other people to blame, finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives.
On many levels, despite being the dutiful little soldier, I am often left with the feeling that I don’t measure up even despite the fact by all practical definitions I have enjoyed more than my fair share of success in this life. This feeling is common among the children of alcoholics I am told. I know of course intellectually I am not my parents but I still get bogged down with negative thoughts and the echoes of unresolved feelings left over from childhood.
When you get down to “the heart of the matter”, you begin to see that by holding onto your anger and blaming others you are not only demeaning yourself and your abilities you are avoiding taking responsibility for your actions and your life. I have discovered this is the real reason I don’t feel a deeper sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in life. The trick is to build on your experiences, both positive and negative, to develop your own inner clam and strength.
I've been trying to get down
To the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness
*(Lyrics from The Heart Of The Matter Songwriters: Henley, Don / Campbell, Michael W. / Souther, John David)
About the author: Kirk Widra M.Ed is an educator, lecturer, and author on topics of branding, social media, marketing, education and self-empowerment. For more check out kirkwidra.com.