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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Going against the grain

I've been mulling over a comment made by a former co-worker for a couple of weeks. It wasn't made to me, but on Facebook to a mutual friend (obviously Facebook misunderstandings are the root of all evil, right?). In her opinion, someone who grows up in a dysfunctional family is set up for failure as an adult.

This might be true. Being a child subjected to various forms of abuse could present more obstacles than "normal" while growing up. But regardless of family dynamics, there's always a choice. A choice to do better, a choice to be more, a choice to stop the cycle.

I hate to think people have expectations that a child from a dysfunctional family has little hope of turning out alright. Why should we assume someone has so little potential that they can't make something of themselves? Why should we let statistics dictate the future?

It could easily be said I come from a dysfunctional family. There was abuse, there was deception, there was arson, there was divorce. But that doesn't have to define me.

I once had a teacher in middle school make the most confusing comment to my 13-year-old self. We were doing some sort of personal evaluations in choir and she said, "When I saw your name on the roster, I have to admit I was nervous to have you in my class." For the longest time I didn't know what she meant. Eventually, I realized she must have had prior knowledge of my family situation, and she assumed I'd be a handful.

Is that fair?

(For the record, I was not a handful in choir).

I try not to use my past as an excuse to behave inappropriately. I know there were times when I just wanted people to leave me alone and let me be angry and depressed because DO YOU KNOW WHAT MY CRAZY DAD DID LET ME DEAL WITH IT BY MYSELF?! However, I like to think I grew out of that.

Maybe that co-worker is right. Maybe I was set up for failure as an adult. But I overcame that when I graduated from high school. I overcame that when I graduated from college. I overcame that when I married someone so very unlike my dad. I overcame that when I got help during the times my depression was too much for me to handle by myself. I overcame that by maintaining employment up until our recent relocation to WJ. I overcame that when I wanted so badly to yell at my two-year-old for doing something annoying but instead I walked away until I calmed down.

Not even someone who grows up in a dysfunctional family has to become a victim of circumstance.


  1. I don't think you are dysfunctional, I think you are GREAT! You have shown that anyone came overcome hard things. A former RS President lived by the motto I CAN DO HARD THINGS! Every time I read your "My Stories" I think of what you went through. You definitely have overcome HARD THINGS! Keep your chin up and don't worry about what others think!

  2. Love this post! though we have different situations, I was also told I was going to be screwed up as an adult bc of others decisions. if anything, I am more thoughtful and careful of my own actions. we are adults and we have the power to make the better decision, always. and I do believe Heavenly Father has got our back and helps us a little extra when we feel inclined to act/feel/say otherwise.

  3. I let what people say on facebook or pin on pinterest rub me the wrong way at times too :) Liv you are a wonderful person and I think everyone has a chance at being who they want to be regardless of our up bringing.

  4. I think you are amazing! You are an awesome mother (just watching aspen is proof of that), a wonderful and kind person, and you have accomplished so much!
    I am so happy to have you in my family and as a friend as well. You are living proof that people are not defined by their past.

  5. I really enjoyed your response. I am in complete agreeance. Situations can influence our outcome, but each of us has a choice to truly choose the outcome itself. I think that too often people can as you said, just let their situation become an excuse, but most I like to believe would like to break the cycle. I remember feeling sadly when someone said that our odds increased for divorce because my husbands parents were divorced. Marriage is hard in and of itself without someone telling me that I must try harder due to my in-laws outcome.


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