What Some Families Do to You

Posted on March 2, 2018 by Jenn Zatopek

So much of my own recovery has been unlearning the sick ways of being that my parents taught me. I wish it were not the case., that I had been born to normal, well-adjusted parents, who gave comfort, solace, and support instead of abuse and neglect.

In the deepest part of my soul, I know that they truly did the best they could with the skills, tools, and willingness they had. However, their best did great harm.

This is not exactly comforting news.

But make no mistake: I am better, healthier, and more alive than I ever have been before. I feel loved, cherished, and cared for by the God of the universe who offers boundless grace and peace by the mysterious circle of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  I’m reading through the Divine Dance by Richard Rohr and know in the marrow of my bones that there truly is a celebration going on inside of me all the time, and I am invited since the day I was born. The same invitation extends to you. There are no exceptions.

But sometimes it is nice to read something and laugh out loud as you realize, yet again, how long it takes to undo some things. This poem by Philip Larkin captures how I have been feeling lately, and as I keep moving forward in my own recovery I remember that it is okay to be angry and okay to forgive. Maybe even in the same breath.

Philip Larkin’s “This Be the Verse”

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.


Larkin, Phillip. (1971).  This Be the Verse. Retrieved from

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