Monday, January 3, 2011

They make you stronger

Being part of a dysfunctional family is much like getting an immunization shot. As a parent, you know the agony involved: the dreaded anticipation, holding your own flesh and blood down as the nurse quickly stabs multiple needles into a little leg, the tears, the aches that last for days and the trauma of willfully inflicting pain on your beloved child. So why do we allow it? First, for the stamps that will be required before your bundle of joy can even dream of starting school. And second, you hope the injections will somehow protect your child from a preventable disease. The little amount of a toxic illness injected into the bloodstream will actually make your child’s immune system stronger.

A similar thing happens when you’re born into a broken family. As a child, you’ll experience multiple stabs, many tears, long-lasting aches and trauma that is willfully inflicted by your parents. If you’re fortunate, you may realize at an early age that these small toxic substances that you were exposed to on a daily basis will eventually make you stronger. Better yet, they may help you avoid the dreaded disease in the first place.

I am not a sculpted masterpiece, and neither is my family. We are more like an average coffee cup that has been dropped, broken and glued back together. We still serve a purpose, but you will always be able to see the cracks. I hope that, despite the imperfections, you will still appreciate the usefulness of these lessons.

I am thirty-four, with a husband and three children of my own. Like most of us, my life has turned out quite differently from what I had imagined. There is no perfect world and no perfect family—and mine is no exception to that rule. Despite their obvious flaws, I am forever indebted to my family because of the life lessons they have taught. I have not been able to avoid the dreaded disease of being dysfunctional, but the small toxic substances I have been exposed to on a daily basis have made me much stronger.

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