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A Story of a Mended Heart
“ I will no longer accept the things I cannot change,
I’m going to change the things I cannot accept” -Angela Davis
Sociologists call it the “five generation rule” - it says the environment in which a child is raised, the love, support, and education provided influences not only that child but the next four generations. This theory also applies to child neglect and abuse giving rise to devastating consequences plaguing future generations. Generational dysfunction is learned and passed down through families. Could that be the meaning of the phrase “the sins of the father are visited upon the son”? Like heart disease and high blood pressure run in families, behavior patterns run in families. But how do some people break the painful enduring chain of family dysfunction and overcome life limiting behavior patterns?
I know a woman raised in an emotionally abusive home with some physical neglect. Her parents’ very rocky marriage, was sometimes violent, ending in divorce when she was a teenager. At 26 years old, two very young children and a monster for a husband, the ugly cycle of misery stretched out before her like a dreadful nightmare.
What triggers change in people? Hitting rock bottom? A birthday? An accident? A life threatening diagnosis?? Divine intervention?? She recalled so clearly what happened, it went like this….
Sitting on a park bench crushed, shattered (literally and figuratively) watching children play, in desperate shape she quietly wept. She thought of her two children. How could they depend on such a pathetic failure to keep them safe or guide them toward a bright future? There was no emotional support, nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Never had she felt such hopelessness or profound sadness. Silently she prayed for comfort and to be shown the way.
She described how time “quieted”, her chest sank, grew sharp and tight. With no underpinning left holding her up she gave way. Tears fell from her eyes like streams of water from a faucet. Then her heart shattered and “collapsed” ... a heavy hollow soul on a bench. Slowly….the tiny bits and pieces became light. They spun around and “rearranged” very suddenly, pulling back together to form a STRONGER new heart with GOD “made known”. She had trouble describing the experience with the limitations of human language and words. A changed person from one moment to the next she knew she would be ok. It was a personal epiphany! The next day, she chose to file for a divorce. That was over 27 years ago. I know her today, as a happy, accomplished professional, a proud wife and mother of 4 successful young adults.
I believe lasting change happens when a person’s heart is stirred in a profoundly emotional way. Something shifts and through sheer force of will a person is compelled while their heart is fully exposed to look at life anew. Lasting change is usually a process, it can also be an event that sets a soul on a newfound path of well being and fulfillment. Working with a mental health professional is a very important part of the process, regardless of what inspires personal growth..
It’s not an easy path yet some people evolve to become better versions of themselves. Sometimes when a person experiences personal growth it causes estrangement, resentment, and misunderstanding. Equipped with a healthy mindset people learn to have healthy boundaries. They can become the scapegoat for hardships and problems of those close to them, (scapegoating is for another blog post ). This kind of change takes courage along with the guidance of a mental health professional and a lot of hard work. And it’s worth it- absolutely worth it. I know because, as you may have guessed, this story is my story. Every day is a gift, my chance to forge ahead, to do better and be better.
There’s a movie made in 1987 by Wim Wendler called Wings of Desire. This wonderful film is set in Berlin, Germany before the end of the Cold War. It’s a story of angels who are present, yet unseen as they watch the lives of the citizens from the rooftops. Sometimes they come alongside to give an invisible embrace of encouragement and love. When I saw this movie, it reminded me of how far I’ve come from the park that day. Divine intervention?? Hmmmm. Maybe you should check it out if you like subtitles!
Message me with your story of change, was it a process or a lightning bolt? What books helped you? How is your life different because of your efforts? What advice do you have for others to overcome a difficult past?? Are you ready to make changes in your life? What is your plan? What ways can we encourage each other to make progress and be the best version of ourselves?
Three cheers for a year full of hope, happiness and peace, onward & upward!