This is unusual for me, to blog about something so personal, but I had to get something off my chest. Some of you know that I have a remarkable daughter who is entering her last year of undergraduate studies. This summer her father – (my ex-husband) decided that he wasn’t going to support her anymore financially. After thought I decided to take him back to court to enforce our divorce agreement. This is heart breaking to my daughter as you can imagine. I’m posting this for a few reasons. One is to bring awareness to issues that affect African American Communities. l feel families in our community tend to avoid mental health and other important issues that impact our inability to form productive and healthy relationships. My ex’s inability to form a healthy relationship with his daughter is evidence, symptomatic of an illness plagued by many.
I found an article on Ongoing research from The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study which demonstrates conclusively that childhood trauma can impact our physical, emotional, and relational health. I’m not writing this post to bash my ex. However, from what I discovered about him during our relationship is that he suffered massive childhood trauma. From having his family hide who his biological father was-- to other abusive behavior from sexual permissiveness to the lack of maternal connections with his mother.
Don’t get this twisted I’m not perfect and I know most of us have suffered from some type of trauma in our life’s. But how many fathers out there who can support their children do? The ACE study asked ten questions to assess childhood trauma. What surprised me was how many of us suffer from trauma. Two-thirds of the study participants answered “yes” to at least one of the questions and if we answered “yes” to one there was a good chance that we answered “yes” to others. See how many you have experienced:
Prior to your 18th birthday:
[ ] Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often... Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
[ ] Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often... Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
[ ] Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever... Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
[ ] Did you often or very often feel that ... No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
[ ] Did you often or very often feel that ... You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
[ ] Was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment, or other reason ?
[ ] Was your mother or stepmother: Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
[ ] Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
[ ] Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?
[ ] Did a household member go to prison?
These experiences actually change the way our brains function and cause us to develop beliefs about ourselves that make us hunger for a relationship where we can heal, but also are triggered by stresses that arise in our relationships. Here are seven common self-limiting beliefs. Check off the ones you feel may be operating in your life today. They probably don’t have these thoughts all the time, but they often play out in our subconscious, and act like a program running in the background, undermining our peace and well-being and coming out more strongly when we feel stressed.
[ ] I am not safe.
[ ] I am worthless.
[ ] I am powerless.
[ ] I am not lovable.
[ ] I cannot trust anyone.
[ ] I am bad.
[ ] I am alone.
Which of these beliefs have you noticed in your own life? Which ones do you feel may be operating in the life of your partner? The bad news is that unhealed trauma can change our brains. Trauma can cause us to be constantly “on alert.” Our brain never shuts down and relaxes. Even when we’re with a loving partner, our brains are constantly scanning for danger. We often misinterpret things our partner says or does as an attack. We become locked in a negative loop, where we see our partner as a source of danger, rather than support.
The result is that we experience physical, emotional, and relationship problems that cause our marriages to fail. Even good marriages bend under the weight of the misunderstandings and lost hopes and dreams. What’s worse is that we come to blame our partner or ourselves and we fail to recognize the real cause of our problems in our early experiences with our first love objects, our parents. Article contribution from (Jed Diamond, Ph.D.)
Remember,” Children shouldn’t have to sacrifice so that you can have the life you want. You make sacrifices, so your children can have the life they deserve.”
If you know of an attorney who practices in Illinois District 6 and would be willing to take my daughters support case pro-bono email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Would like to hear your thoughts.