People tend to have this impression that once they are healed or adult or get their shit together or magically make it out of whatever situation they are working through, the fog will clear, they will magically perceive everything “normally” and they’ll no longer have any connection to where they came from or what they’ve been through.  Hahahahahahahah….ahem…sorry.  There are many ways that the people around us at any given time are acting as mirrors for us. They are reflecting us back to us so we can see ourselves.  That can be enlightening, shaming, or stunning depending on the person and the situation at hand.  Or it could be all of those or none of those.  But the underlying assumption in what I’ve just written is that the mirrors are reflecting back reality.  They are nonpartisan glass which simply reflects back to us what we are.

But what if they aren’t?  What if we have grown up with or spent a large chunk of time in intimate connection with people who are fun house mirrors?  What if the reflection we are seeing is distorted and outright wrong?  Not only does this screw with our perception of ourselves, but our perception of the world around us.  If we are told repeatedly that the skewed and wonky reflection we’re seeing is actually clear, that there is something wrong with us which makes us think its skewed and screwed up and distorted, that we need to wear corrective lenses to get ourselves right, then when we look away from the mirror the rest of the world looks screwed up and twisted and we’re not able to related to it at all other than from this fun house perspective.

This is what happens in dysfunctional families.  Children tend to believe their parents and think that parenting is going on in everything that is said and done. That means that what is happening comes from a desire for the child’s best and highest good.  (That’s an impossible standard at the best of times, but even average parents give it a good try and agonize over missing the mark.) Dysfunctional families try to make what they are doing and being seem like that when instead they are acting out of their own brokenness, need, and fear.  They create scenarios which make emotional servants out of their children all the while telling them that this is the way it should be and the best they can expect because they are so broken.  If you want proof, just look at yourself in this mirror.  You can’t even see yourself right and keep seeing all these wonky images that make you question. *sigh* What’s to be done with you?

Adults healing from such situations, whether family of origin or abusive partners, struggle in part because they don’t realize they are still wearing the corrective lenses that allows them to be comfortable with the fun house mirrors.  They ignore the regular mirrors all around them or discount them because of the glasses they are wearing. So the challenge it two-fold, to take off the corrective lenses and start adjusting to the fact that the world looks nothing like we were trained to believe, and then start learning to recognize and utilize real mirrors.  To see ourselves as we truly are, we must first find an honest reflection.