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A Damaged Heart

How My Childhood Experiences Shaped Who I Am Today...

Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy (Broken-heart Syndrome)

It's named after an octopus trap—and that's not all that's unusual about this reversible heart condition. It occurs almost exclusively in women.

Have you ever heard the phrase, "the heart wants what the heart wants?" It’s a true statement. In fact, our hearts truly can lead us the wrong way or the right way depending upon how this particular heart has been treated. Being hurt, breakups, disappointments, and childhood experiences can truly affect the heart and what it does. There are all sorts of phrases as it relates to the heart, cliché’s even. "Wearing your heart on your sleeve." Even in scripture, it says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." So your heart is very important and what happens to it is also VERY important.

In my childhood years, physical and emotional abuse became sort of the norm. I grew up with an abusive father, who abused alcohol to the point of becoming incoherent, and a very passive mother. My mother accepted the abuse until she could no longer. Although I was not physically abused, witnessing it as a child was not only emotional for me, but very hurtful as well. I grew up in a home where things looked good on the outside but that certainly was not the case on the inside. As a result of these experiences, I grew up not only in fear of becoming either my mother or father, but my heart was damaged, as this was the only form of love I had ever seen.

Growing up, I looked for love in all the wrong places. My mom was not a prominent fixture in my life, and my dad was not emotionally available. My father, as a result of his hurt, would say mean words to me and drink his life away. I came to grips with the fact that he did not know any other way. This level of anger and hurt did not start with him—it was generational.

So I did not know LOVE, real love. The people that were placed in my life to show me that had "checked out." So I wandered around life trying to find that love by having infatuations with men on television programs, thinking they would one day come sweep me off my feet. When I was in school, I would try to get guys to notice me by wearing tight clothes, writing love letters. I became someone I wasn't just so someone, anyone, would love me. I even sought approval and love from my teachers, by going above and beyond in school, working really hard to be "the best." Most of that ended up resulting in rejection for me.

Do you see the results of how your experiences shape your heart and what it does?

So, as my dad continued his love affair with alcohol and my mom continuously searched for her identity in other relationships with men, I was left to either repeat history with the examples I had, or somehow, someway, change history.

As I grew up, I knew both ways my parents were showing me were not correct ways. I had to come to terms with that. I had seen much more and experienced much more than a child should have at such an early age. But I decided within myself a change had to be made.

It may sound easy but it was not, far from it. I was literally, and still am today, weeding through the examples I was shown throughout my childhood. I have experienced rejection, internal pain, and hurt because I was not shown how to properly manage my emotions early in life.

So, as I grew up and matured as an adult, I had made up in my mind that history would not repeat itself. What I saw growing up would not be the norm for me. The cycle, I decided, ended with me. As a result of these internal declarations, I ended up in my first serious relationship with someone who I thought I would marry.

Read more tomorrow as the journey continues.