There's a great book by Bronnie Ware called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. In it, she asks patients on their deathbeds about their greatest regrets. Their number one regret: "I wish I'd had the courage to live a true life, not the life others expected of me."
And from the play Hamlet by Shakespeare, "To thine own self be true'.
Imagine a child who has rarely been smiled at, spoken to warmly and lovingly, touched gently, or played with by a parent. Imagine a child who hears constant fighting, grows up in an addiction environment, or a stressed single parent is working two or three jobs to survive. Or another subjected to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse by anyone. These children are unlikely to develop the necessary emotional wiring to handle life, and they will let go of their authenticity to keep the attachment in place.
"People have two needs, attachment and authenticity, when authenticity threatens attachment, attachment will trump authenticity." - Gabor Mate.
Imagine a child given a safe, nurturing environment. They are treated with kindness, compassion, and unconditional love (allowed to express their feelings), and receive regular affirmations and actions that feed their true identity—Love. We will be less susceptible to addiction, depression, violence, crime, mental illness, and other issues.
It's not about blaming parents. Parents have never been more stressed. They need just as much help, support, and healing because raising children can be challenging and complicated. And a lot of the trauma also happens outside the home environment. Plus, most parents are healing things many generations deep. It will take great courage to wake up and be part of the solution. Addiction is a family illness; it's about everyone rising up.
I had to let go of my authenticity at a very young age, and I created a fake self which I called Mistaken Identity, to make sense of my childhood and stay safe. I made subtle agreements with my parents in the subconscious mind—if I give up myself, you'll love me; if I hide, do what's "right," fit in, not rock the boat, our relationship will stay intact and I will be safe. Time and again, I perceived my parent's expectations and my biological need for closeness overpower my birthright to be an authentic self. If I did adapt, choose authenticity over attachment, and fight back I got hurt and was seen as disruptive, needy, selfish, unreasonable, etc. I remember at 19, leaving home on a bus and telling myself, I will never let another man ever treat me that way ever again. That man was my father ad my mother could not help me. What a setup for significant pain and suffering to come.
[Sidebar: Forgiving my father was crucial to my healing. It happened due to compassionately finding out about my father's hurtful past and looking into my false perceptions about him. Today, I have a new relationship with my father after a 20-year absence and understand he did the best with what he knew and believed about himself. It was a long journey to get there, but OMG, it was worth it. DAD – I love you!]
The bottom line: I got into recovery to find my freedom from my substance of choice; however that did not lead me to true freedom. Healing my trauma led me to myself, to my true essence, authenticity, and freedom from programming, and go figure, I recovered from my hopeless state of addiction.
I heard the great Sadhguru say "Freedom = No Programming," and I totally agree!
I added this to the post because everyone was asking me what were the 5 regrets of the dying and so here it is:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
We Do Recover;