When I first met Grant, he was depressed and had little relationship with his wife and adult children. I loved him and helped him see how his critical and demeaning view of himself and others had come from long ago, when he was a child.
Grant had explored every kind of psychological dissection he could find, but he’d never felt loved, nor had anyone ever indicated that such a condition was possible. The more he learned, the more intellectually isolated he became.
Among the many stories he told me, Grant described the day he learned—at age eight—that his parents were divorcing. It was the end of whatever sliver of stability he had left at the time, and he responded by crying and screaming inconsolably. No one could calm the boy down, so his grandfather finally gave him a drink of whiskey.
The drink had a calming effect, so half an hour later Grant climbed up into the cupboard, where he drank more whiskey to the point that he became drunk and fell asleep. Within a few years, Grant was drinking regularly and eventually struggled with alcohol for the rest of his life.
It would be easy and tempting to point to the event at age eight as the beginning of Grant’s alcoholism and unhappiness, but it’s not nearly that simple. For the eight years before that initial drink—for his entire life—he was raised by two parents who knew so little about loving that they finally couldn’t stand to be in the same house. And his mother was raised by a man who knew so little about loving that he drugged his grandson at a time when the boy simply needed compassion.
By age eight, Grant’s judgments, feelings, and behaviors had already worn ruts in his life so deep that he could barely see out of the bottom of them. His course of addiction and unhappiness began at birth, if not before, and as I helped Grant see this he finally said this to me one day:
“All my life I thought there was something terribly wrong with me. Why else would my parents divorce? Why else could I remember nothing but unhappiness as far back as my memory could take me? The weight of my defects was so unbearable that I could hardly stand the thought of any kind of disapproval from my wife, and I didn’t have the energy or will to try to be a loving father. So I avoided interaction with all of them, except to be unpleasant. Who had ever taught me the skills I needed?
“And then came a dark hour that tested me beyond what I felt I was capable of enduring, and you took my hand right then and caressed it as you loved and taught me. You taught me how to feel loved and how to throw off the burden of all my shame and pain. I am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude that bubbles up inside me. I’ve begun to forgive myself, to stop hating myself, and to feel my inherent worthiness—like a manifestation of the Divine that dwells within me. I finally understand everything that happened in my early life and how badly it has affected the way I’ve seen and felt and reacted to things all my life. This change is exciting beyond words. I feel FREE!!
“I just want to say thank you and express my appreciation for all the changes in the way I think and feel and see life. I am so grateful for the change and transformation of my relationship with my wife and children, and for the fact that I can actually feel love in a deep part of my soul and heart where it was incapable of penetrating before.”
For decades this man lived in hell as a result of how he was raised as a young child. He could see no possibility of a way out, and had resigned himself to die in hell. But he chose to trust, and to learn, and he has become a different person.
If he can do it, so can you.
Recover from your past and choose to trust.
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