This I Believe

Laurie - Conway, Arkansas
Entered on December 10, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family

The Legacy

Dysfunction, abuse, dishonesty, and neglect. These are all a part of the legacy left to me by a family that places very little importance on family. The legacy that your ancestors leave, and the legacy that is in the making while growing up, is so often painful and disheartening.

Why does this cycle continue? It continues because, as a family, we feel imprisoned in by the bonds of our dysfunction. We feel compelled to hang on to our family group with both hands so that we don’t lose the one constant that we have in our lives, even if it is dysfunction, abuse, dishonesty, and pain. These things have been in our family for years, but those are not the words that we use to describe it. We call them being alike, being strongly banded together, being family. Years later our therapists will call it codependence and enablement.

My family has followed this cycle for generations. Over the years, if anyone outside of our family hurts one of us, either financially, emotionally or physically, they would feel the wrath of our family. This type of support might sound good on paper, but the tragic part of this is that the people in my family hurt each other more than anyone outside of the family ever has.

Stealing, lying, gossiping, mental, sexual, and physical abuse are all a large part of the history of my family. All a part of the legacy that they have left for us.

Where will this cycle end? In my family it ends with me. It ends with my brother. It ends with my cousin. It ends with each one of us who has had enough. Each one of us who has felt the pain of betrayal, sarcasm, and neglect and choose to plant our feet firmly where we stand, put our hands out and say “No more!”

We have chosen to loosen our grasp on the legacy that our forbearers left us. We have chosen to remember it always as a guide of what not to do. We will choose to embrace tightly with both hands the definition of family that we forge. Ours will be a family of truth, tolerance, love, healing, and support. This I believe, that we each choose the legacy that we leave and that it does not have to look anything like the legacy that was left for us.