My family members were masters at squashing rebellion. It is what any good (or bad) dictator learns how to do before all else. It only takes one person to rise up against you, one bad link in the chain, and the empire can fall. Personally, I could not imagine depending on the fear in others to maintain the life I want. It sounds like a lot of work to keep that house of cards intact. But many are willing to try it because they think it is the only way to have power and control. And honestly, what can be easier than teaching children to fear you … especially if they are your children? I believe this actually works most of the time. I believe there are thousands (or more) of children who never speak of their devastating childhoods, who spend their entire lives deeply hating their parents while going through the motions of one big happy family, even arranging the perfect funeral for their parents in the end.

My parents were expecting everything to happen just like that. After all, it is what they had done for their parents. And who are we kidding? Their parents did it too. Unfortunately for them, they had me. I have a rebellious side. I have always had a problem with people telling me what to do. I told far more people about their abuse than they expected. They had to do far more cover up than they had planned. And then, at 38 years old, I blew the lid off the whole thing, denying them their self-ascribed right to abuse their grandchildren and keep the cycle going. I know they feel like the victims. I know because they told me. They told me I was breaking their hearts and that they didn’t deserve this treatment. They never expected this to happen. But unfortunately for them, they had me.

I am proud of my rebellious side (if that’s not obvious already). Even during the years when the trauma was repressed, it was hard to keep me quiet about other things. But there is a problem with this side of me when it is mixed with trauma and rage. It can get a bit unhealthy. I think, on an unconscious level, I have been plotting against my family for my entire existence. Some of my favorite stories are The Count of Monte Cristo and The Shawshank Redemption. Both stories feature protagonists who escape prison and get clever revenge on their captors.

You may be wondering what is wrong with a little revenge against so much evil. I am still working through some of those feelings myself. But there’s a bigger problem. What happens to rebellion when it is not permitted against those who perpetrate evil against me? If I have a natural tendency to stand up for myself, and I am physically incapable of doing so, what happens to all of that energy? Where does it turn? I fear the answer is inward.

I have been in touch with my inner rebel lately. She’s not very happy with the way life turned out and she has used her courageous energy to sabotage some of my best intentions. She has decided that if she can’t have life her way, she’s not going to cooperate with life any way. And while this was noble in childhood, it is holding back the good, positive work that can be done now to leave the past behind.

But I have learned how to communicate with my inner parts. And believe me, they don’t respond to any form of control or bossy instruction. They have to figure it out for themselves with a little guidance and a few pointers from me. The integration of these parts is critical to my healing, but that integration happens on their terms when they are ready to heal.

So I try to keep life interesting. I try to speak up, make changes and do what it takes to keep an inner rebel satisfied with a life that is no longer disrupted and sabotaged. I try to appeal to her qualities of bravery by explaining how I need her as a part of the whole, how I can’t complete this new journey without her on board. And I can see my own courage to speak up getting stronger and stronger. I know there will come a day when I won’t think about what the other person wants me to say. There will come a day where I won’t censor myself out of fear of retaliation. I know that will happen because I know my inner rebel. And she will not be stopped.