Surviving a dysfunctional family can really test your ability to think outside of the box. While we cannot choose our family, we can learn to deal with the family member’s we may dislike because we will always love them.
My definition of a dysfunctional family is not a specific one by any means. My dysfunctional family consisted of an abusive member and myself. Your idea of a dysfunctional family may be completely different, but the basic meaning gets across. Any household with disharmony could be considered dysfunctional and to label yours as such is up to you.
If you’re anything like me, then you were led to believe that every family in America was normal except for yours. I always envisioned all of my friends’ parents sitting down to a homemade dinner each night while discussing school, work, and baseball.
The Cosby Show didn’t help my warped perceptions about the typical American family either, but I knew that there were some Married With Children types of households as well. But in both of these shows, the family always still loved each other at the end of the day, no matter how poorly they interacted with one another.
I was raised by my grandparents. They had already seen all of their children grow up and move out on their own (all ten of them!). You can imagine how worn out they were from raising ten kids. Then my sister and I arrived as toddlers when our grandparents were ready to relax and retire. I believe that this was the root of all of the underling tension in the household.
There was a lot of anger and resentment felt between me and my grandparents, especially my abusive grandmother. I think that she knew that my mother could have done her part in raising us instead of dumping all of the responsibilities on her. This made my grandmother very bitter and since I look so much like my mother, she chose me to take out a lot of her frustrations on.
Learning to cope with my dysfunctional family was a challenge that, in some sadistic way, I kind of learned to enjoy. Crying for my mommy into my pillow late at night and wondering why she didn’t want me wasn’t helping. Neither was punching my bedroom door in anger while pretending it was my abusive grandmother. I could live the rest of my adolescent life feeling sorry for myself and wishing for my mommy and daddy to come get me, or I could learn to deal with the family I was given.
The first step was to get a diary. My diary was my best friend for years. It never told my abusive grandmother my dark thoughts of wishing she would die. It never slapped me for speaking my opinion. Most of all, it would listen without judging me. That’s all anyone in a dysfunctional family or any desperate situation really needs sometimes, just a good solid listener.
Having a safe and secret place to vent all of my worries and frustrations really did wonders for my ability to pretend to be happy while enduring my grandmother’s abuse. If she decided to be particularly evil to me, I could easily keep a smug grin on my face because I knew my diary had my back. It would always be there for me, locked tight and tucked away beneath my mattress.
I also discovered that the less I reacted to my grandmother’s harsh words and hard slaps, the more royally pissed off she got. Sure, I could have avoided a few extra bruises if I just broke down and cried in front of her, but I wouldn’t let her have the satisfaction!
I guess the lesson I have learned from my abusive relationship in the past is that surviving in an abusive family made me stronger in the end. I would not be who I am today without all of the family abuse. I know that may seem a little depressing, but my abusive family has prepared me to be able to handle a lot of unpleasant situations. The way I see it, you can’t choose who you’re raised by but you do have to love them, even if you have to learn how to love them a different way.
Surviving an abusive and dysfunctional family is a challenge, but it is possible and will only make you stronger.