Growing Up in Difficult or Abusive Families

Every family has its challenges, but some families are particularly difficult. They may be filled with abuse, addictions, mental illness, fighting, favoritism, and secrets.

“I thought I was the crazy one. I thought I was the bad one. I thought I was the problem.”

When you grow up in a difficult family, you may not realize that your experience was dysfunctional.  We often believe that whatever we experienced was normal, at least for us, and we may even blame ourselves for how our family members behave or how we feel. In families where our experiences were repeatedly invalidated, we may even begin to doubt our memories, how we feel in the moment, our realities, or how we define ourselves.

As we enter adolescence and adulthood and compare our family to those we see in our daily lives (e.g. on TV, in movies, our friend’s families, etc.), we may begin to realize that we were facing more challenges and dysfunction than we originally knew.  

When we start our own families (e.g. get pregnant, have a baby, adopt a child, marry a partner who has children, etc.), we may also find ourselves cringing when we think about our kids growing up like we did and may strive to change our parenting patterns to avoid repeating the cycles.  At the same time, we may need to heal from past trauma, disappointment, frustration, and low self-esteem that we have developed because of family dynamics.

The good thing about realizing that you have a difficult family or grew up in a difficult family is that you can break that cycle.  Yes, you can break the cycle!

Therapy through counseling can help you recognize what you really think and feel and train yourself to develop new behaviors that allow you to have a happier life, improve your relationships, and effectively raise a healthy family of your own.

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