Growing up in a household of seven children has it’s pluses and minuses. With so many mouths to feed, so many children to clothe, it must have been tough on the finances. In hindsight, I can appreciate the struggle my parents must have went through to bring all of us up in a nice neighborhood.
I have some great memories of big family get togethers, parties and holiday gatherings but I don’t recall taking any vacations together. I too can understand that since it would have been pretty costly to take the whole family on a vacation. The one thing I struggle with is the substance abuse, the verbal/emotional abuse and at one time or another the physical abuse. The anger! I won’t sugar coat, my childhood was spent in fear of my father. In fact, our first family “vacation” was spent getting away from the situation. We ended up getting driven by a Nun, three hours to my Grandmothers in Massachusetts. It was a bittersweet situation, as a child I hardly had an understanding of the situation but in hindsight, I have to thank my Mother for getting us out of the situation we were in. While I was bewildered about the situation, the negative was replaced with some positive adventures. Our step-grandfather had a cabin in the Berkshires and when we didn’t stay in his house in Pittsfield, we went to his cabin. We put fishing line on sticks and made make shift fishing poles. We swam in the nearby lake, Lake Ashmere. A Neighbor took us on his Pontoon boat, we traveled to Balanced Rock State Park, Wahconah State Park. I have a distinct memory of the Falls, we went into the water by the Falls, the water was freezing and the rocks were slippery from the algae.. such a wonderful memory.
When we returned home, the situation was better but not resolved. It wouldn’t be until 3 years later that my father got help. I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about Looking Back At Past Suffering and have to admit, the past anger, the past abuses, this is what I am trying to free myself of even to this day. The product of your environment is reinforced in your mind, if negativity is what you are brought up with, negativity is likely how you will live. (But.. you can change that)
I was a product of my environment but knew it was not the way I wanted to be. Throughout most of my adult life I took that anger and negativity with me. I wanted the people around me to not add to that negativity or anger but sometimes it felt like people were just pushing my buttons.
Before my son was born, I had it in my mind that I didn’t want to bring my son up in the environment I was brought up in but I knew I suffered from the same afflictions that my parents had. I had varying successes quitting smoking cigarettes and not too long after my son was born, I finally extinguished my last one. I defeated the Nicodemon! I never really thought I had an issue with alcohol but I’m sure that’s an alcoholics way of thinking. So I quit alcohol too. That leaves Anger and Negativity. It seems they are more addicting than Nicotine and Alcohol !!! The best thing that happened to me was an Anxiety/Panic Attacks I had back then, in unnerved me and helped me reflect on life a bit. Not too long after that episode, I took a walk in the woods. There was a local park by us that had a pretty extensive trail system (North Hills County Park). I parked my car in a parking lot and took a hike. Four hours later, I was a new man. That was about 10 years ago. We all need those activities that will help clear the mind!
I have it easier than my parents. I have one child, when we couldn’t afford much, we did without so we could provide for him. Throughout his life, we have given him everything he needs to be a success. We have given him a positive home environment, encouragement, Love and respect. I remembered back to that Massachusetts “Vacation” and I wanted my son to have those positive experiences. I have always told my son that if he disagrees with me, then I need him to challenge me. He does sometimes! I don’t feel like I was given room for personal growth as a child, so I leave my son room for personal growth and let him be his own decision maker.
and I look back and wonder how I would be different today if my parents could have given me the same wholesome environment but sometimes you have to face facts, you can’t change the past but you can change your future. You are who you are. Take personal responsibility in yourself! That is what I have been trying to do for most of my life.
Yes, there is suffering. Yes, There is a cause of suffering, Yes, there is a way to rid yourself of suffering.
It’s up to you.
(Edited to correct spelling, correct a sentence and add a sentence)