Sunday, March 11, 2012

Some Thoughts from a Member of the Clan of Unhappy Childhoods)

Warning:  Not a single Funny Bit to be found herein......this is serious stuff)

You know I love you all, but the truth is I am beginning to wonder  about some of the younger folks (that means nearly everyone) who seem to truly believe:

*Everyone ELSE had a happy childhood

*That if you chase Happiness long enough you will catch it
*And  that Adulthood sucks.

I feel like the Grinch.   I hate to be a spoilsport, but do any of you still think that you could achieve maturity and some degree of wisdom if you had what people fantasize as a  happy childhood?  Maybe I am totally wrong. I have often been known to be  full of shit.  Actually, there may be a gazillion folks out there who had happy childhoods and who are 100% wise, mature and pretty content with their lives.    Sadly, I am deprived and just don't know any of them.

One of my dearest friends confided in me when she had "graduated" from Psychoanalysis at around age 35 or 40.  I asked her eagerly if she could tell me the most important thing she had learned. She thought a moment and said, " I was liberated when I understood and accepted that I will never have a happy childhood.)

What provoked all of this mumbling and quiet ranting is the fact that I noticed in some of the comments on my last blog many expressions of sympathy, sadness and indignation at some of the miseries I had to suffer as a child at the mercy of a crazy, sadistic father.  Gosh, what if I had really told more and described my 5 years of  problems with the  overly loving grandfather whom we lived with ?  (Yes, I too belong to that abused club.....but happily, it no longer  deforms or embitters me.....I wish I could spell out the discovery process that bought me this might be helpful to someone...It is just so hard to communicate the "how" of it). 

The fact is , I do not regret one bit of my (often but not always) unhappy childhood.  The trials and tribulations of my childhood are what taught me some of the most important lessons of my life.  (......You do not HAVE to think like your parents think or believe what they do not HAVE to act like your parents act, etc........Someday you can make your own  choice about how you deal with  the world)   Without the  pain and lessons of my childhood I suspect I would not have known to develop some bits of compassion, tolerance, empathy and kindness, not to mention the sense of humor that has saved my life repeatedly when nothing makes  any sense at all.

We all use so much  strength and energy trying to avoid pain at all costs and if we somehow succeed, where are we?  Surely no wiser than we were.....just older and tireder and more perplexed and infuriated that we have had to suffer instead of being allowed to be......happy.  I wonder...if you take away the pain and suffering are you automatically happy?  I don't think so.  Pain-free does not necessarily mean could mean just Numb.

It has been my sad experience that we do not learn much from our periods of happiness.....often not even to be grateful for them. The normal reaction is usually just,  "More, please"

 No, no, I am not advocating seeking out pain and suffering so we can need for that......If  you haven't figured it out already, pain and suffering will find you without any help.  But there is always a lesson to be learned in order to avoid future suffering from this particular thing.  And the lesson isn't just how to avoid this particular thing in the future.  In my experience, unless you can figure out why you are feeling the misery, you are doomed to continue to suffer from the same misery time and again.  When my  buttons get pushed causing me to say "Ouch", I have to trace the wiring down to the bottom to see what it is really connected to so I can disconnect it.  When I finally find the source it is always a huge surprise, not at all what I had been thinking all those years, and an even bigger relief.  Sometimes it takes half a lifetime.  Snip.....there is one pain not to be suffered anymore.  Whee.  (Now that is happiness .).

I am sorry I cannot give instructions on how to learn these lessons......I would if I could.......but each must do your own self-surgery,  digging, clawing, bleeding, unearthing what is underneath, finally  facing it and then joyfully kissing it goodbye and leaving it behind by the side of the road.

As I said at the top, the Adulthood or the Answer so many seem to be seeking does not come free......but (sigh) life gives you untold painful chances to earn it.

I hate it when I get what seems to me to be  preachy.   Ugh.    Forgive me if I have come across as  sanctimonious and arrogant.  I hope I am none of those things.  I only utter these words because I have been forced to learn one or two things during my lifetime and I keep wishing I could spare some of you the same pain.   I guess I should know better.  In fact I realize that I knew better even when I was young and on the other end of the equation. Now that I think of it, I remember  my beloved Mamma saying to me in exasperation, "Do you have to make all the same mistakes I did?"........and I wisely snapped back, "Yes!  How else can I learn?"

May you reach your goal and finally be able to be happy. 

I'll see you as we trod along the road.


  1. Not 'preachy' AT ALL! We all tend to think everyone else has it perfect ~ SO not true!!
    Different shades and variations, but still a worldwide phenomena ~
    Thanks for the reminder ~~~

  2. Wise and thoughtful commentary....and we need to pay attention. The key to your message, at least for me, is understanding the cause of the hurt.

  3. I think my childhood was pretty danged happy. I wonder if I'm not happy as an adult.
    Please do tell me.

    1. So glad to know someone who did have a happy childhood and I can't see that it did you any damage so congratulations.

      Only you can tell if is spoiled your adulthood. Hope not.

    2. Dang it. I. Meant to comment earlier...please DON'T tell me. Stupid iPad keyboard.

  4. Maya Angelou once said the same thing--she would not change one thing about her terrible childhood because it had made her who she was.
    I think that we are such complex, finely wired individuals that we have to find our own way out of the quagmire of childhood influences. I'm not sure that those who had a happy childhood would be excluded from that on their way to being "mature".

  5. I remember seeing a bumpersticker some years ago in said

    "It's NEVER too late to have a happy childhood."

    That stuck with me.

  6. Did anyone ever have a happy childhood? How would one define it? Some childhoods are worse than others but happy?

  7. Exactly right. We live, we learn, we tell others, sometimes they can learn a bit from us or we from them. Most of it, though, comes from our own struggle.

  8. I try to take the good and the bad and move on...I loved this post.

  9. Well, as you know, I do get stuck. But I will tell you this- when I am happy or even just...peaceful and content, I take note. I am grateful. I let it shimmer all around me and I drink it in.

  10. As a young adult I felt shallow because I'd had a peaceful life and no big, character-building traumas. My struggle was to figure out how my life was/could be meaningful. It amused me to realize that everybody struggles with something. Or every thinking person does. Very thought-provoking post.

  11. I think that a lot of one's reactions come from within. It's the old half empty and half full thing.

  12. I too belong to the same clubs as you. For me I have one more club that I now belong to AA. If not for my past I would not know the peace,and serenity that is my life.Would I want to relive it again, NO But have the happiness that has become my life.

  13. I did not have a happy childhood. i spent most of my time hiding from my father. My mother worked full time and my father stayed home with us kids, a very uncommon situation back in those days. He was a disabled WWI veteran. Because of all that hiding, I discovered the library at a very early age and developed a life long love of books. One of my favorite hiding places was a large apricot tree and when the fruit was ripe, I would climb the tree (physical exercise) read my book (mental exercise) and eat apricots (good health).

  14. Wonderful post, Lo. ...One I'm sure a lot of us can identify with. but will never be able to tell about it for fear of hurting so many innocent people. They probably wouldn't believe it anyway.

  15. I always pour woes onto the unfortunate people I draw. It works every time. Great post.

  16. "We will not regret the past or wish to shut the door on it." (Anonymous)


    "Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?" (John Keats)

  17. Excellent post Lo, you always say how you feel and I admire you for that.

  18. Lois, has your email changed? I email you and it is sent back.

  19. I can't imagine anyone having a happy childhood -- who could possibly be when you're not in control of your own life. I was raised as a small adult and the fun and games of others' childhoods was a totally foreign concept. It is only in these reflective years that some of the traumas have come back to me. I won't share them but, now, I do know why I turned everything into a joke to get through my days. (Took years just to have a simple conversation, once I was away from my family.) But, no, I wouldn't change it. (The memories, yes; the person I've become, no.) We're here for you, Lo, and it is your humor in dealing with life that draws me. You wouldn't have it, had you not known deep pain. {{{HUGS}}}

  20. I am following both of your blogs and as far as I can ascertain, expect to learn a lot from your considerable wisdom.

    I've found in my short life that happiness is fleeting, but one needs to have everlasting joy in something or someone.

    The proverbial school of hard knocks and its cousin, an unhappy childhood, are indeed what teaches us about life.

    I look forward to your future blogs.