We see so many warm and fuzzy pictures on social media with families loving each other up and hashtags like #familyfirst.
And yet, family dynamics can be so toxic. They say, if you think you’ve changed, just spend the day with your family.
Family to me means love, loyalty, and support. And yet trauma usually begins within family dynamics which often results in trigger upon trigger, leading to a lifetime of learning to navigate the issues or simply cutting off. The struggle doesn't end there. Family dysfunction can pour out into other areas of our lives; we may seek out toxic partners, friendships and work environments, simply because it feels familiar. We may even decide to avoid relationships altogether, and may find basic tasks like getting a job and managing our finances intimidating.
Many people reluctantly admit feeling inclined to present a fake version of themselves with family for fear of not be accepted and approved. Funny how we can be ourselves with a stranger in an elevator and yet feel the need to withhold an authentic version of ourselves for the purpose of self preservation.
Family can be the biggest source of happiness, or the biggest source of pain.
Family dysfunction is largely hidden, hugely shameful, misunderstood, and certainly isn’t normalized, despite its prevalence.
Awareness is the first step to healing, while shoving it under the rug is a great way of perpetuating feelings of disconnect and inadequacy that affect other areas of our lives.
Family therapy and family counselling may lead to improved dynamics and overall wellness.