The First Cut Is The Deepest: How We Learn To Process Emotions Through Our Family


We are most sensitive to matters close to the heart, and for some, family is as close to the heart as it gets. We grow up with family; our earliest memories are with our family. The foundations of who we are and how we view the world were conceived through our families.

Much like fine china, the appreciation we have for our loved ones causes us to treat them with extreme care, resulting in heightened sensitivity with all matters concerning them because they are fragile, delicate parts of our lives.

Like fine china, we put them away somewhere special: in a cabinet closed off in the depth of our hearts, high on a pedestal where we have permitted zero room for error.

It is a condition that we've all have somehow come victim to. We contend that the people closest to us aren't capable of hurting us; it’s somehow easier to accept. However, we mustn't forget that, like us, our families are human, flawed and imperfect.

See, for the longest time we needed our families to be our heroes. As kids, they were the ones who could conjure hot delicious meals on stovetops with the mysterious blue flame we were instructed not to touch.

When we were sick they knew of home remedies that seemed like potions that made us feel better (even if we were probably still sick). They even sang us songs passed down from generations that lured us into the most somber of slumbers. To put it quite simply, they were God-like.

Even as we got older their help gradually matured with us. From the miracle that appeared every morning in the form of a conveniently packed lunch, to the timely advice on what to do about that jerk of a boyfriend named Steve; it all gave us a safe haven to dwell in from the chaos of the world.

The parents, the siblings and just about anyone who has made a significant impact on our lives have gripped our hearts with reckless abandon. They were the first people we ever really used the term “love” with. They are family, and family is forever.

But what happens when that reality comes crashing down, when you are betrayed by the ones you confided in the most? The inevitability of our heroes actually not saving the day is a reality that, often, we are unprepared for.

What do you do when mom cheats on dad, and why wasn’t she thinking about how the family would feel, how you would feel? How can trust be reestablished after father hit mom?

How do you forgive a sister who inexplicably decided to abandon her family? Who put drugs and a relationship with her delinquent boyfriend over being an example to her two younger sisters? The answer is time.

We often fail to afford the ones close to us the same grace we extend to others because we feel betrayed; the healing is harder because the cut is deeper. The disappointment is so great, that the only way we cope is to eliminate the relationship altogether.

It’s the Santa Claus effect: We are disappointed when the image we have had of someone for so long is actually just dad leaving out the cookies and mom putting gifts under the tree.

There is no justification for lies, nothing can replace the pain of cheating and no amount of sorrys can wipe away those tears. The only thing you can offer is grace. Like anyone else that you have encountered on any intimate level, you must ultimately forgive.

I have seen individuals shut out their mothers completely from their life, and forgive their backstabbing ex-best friend on multiple occasions. As we get older we should realize that no one ever figures life out; it is a continual learning process that only stops when life stops itself.

The ugly truth is that we will always be human. It is ok to hold family close, but remembering that they make the same mistakes we do can prevent a rift in an important relationship from expectations they should not have been held to in the first place.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It