Growing up while being abused, you get a lot of things ingrained in you. It can be very hard trying to sort out what is part of your nature as a person, and what was unhealthy traits drilled into you. One of my toughest ones is caring for others.
In our house, our mother was Queen, but whoever she was with at the time was her King and ruled our world. Needless to say, caring for my brother, her, and whoever else was forced on us became my world. By the time I was nine, I did all the cooking, cleaning, getting us off to school, making sure homework was done, etc. Since my only saving grace for years was a grandmother who was married at 13 (yes, it was normal then) and who raised 14 children, everything I had to do around the house tended to be normal looking to me.
My friends and chosen family all call me a caring person. What sucks is I have to question am I caring, or is this just a nicer byproduct of the abuse I suffered? Do I have a limit, or do I just identify with caring for others because it’s what I know?
I don’t think there is a clear cut answer here. As I grow and learn and heal, I am setting healthy boundaries. I know I can’t fix everyone’s problems. At the end of the day everyone is responsible for themselves. My loved ones make their own choices. If they need to change something, it is up to them to change. Just like it’s up to me to change myself where I need change.
So tonight I am thankful that I care. I could make a great argument not to care, but that isn’t who I am. It saddens me to know that I have hurt some loved ones by not letting them make it or fail on their own. All I can say is I did what I knew until I learned better.
And that’s a huge thing to be thankful for. I can learn. I can change.