Following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story.
In a toxic family where PTSD symptoms persist as a result of prolonged abuse and trauma, there is no real family unit. In this environment there is the perception that no one has your back. You are basically alone protecting and defending your turf and position. There is a high level of anxiety and insecurity that grows out of a motivation to survive rather than growing and thriving together as a team with common goals and parental leadership.
I learned something highly important very early in my professional life that was not translated to interactions with family members until many years later. While learning and getting some good coaching in the sales business, the word “I” was considered poison in verbal and written communications. My early career mentors and bosses jumped on me often for using the word “I” as a team member and in working with customers. It was clear from the start that the word “we” carried so much more weight and generated significant positive response once it became a habit to avoid using “I” to reference almost anything. When using “I” it was deliberate and most appropriate at all times. My world changed very quickly in terms of leadership qualities and success in selling once “we” became my favorite word.
In all the years of fighting and arguing with family members and in trying to make my marriage work, including relationships with children, it has been a relatively recent discovery that “we” is most definitely appropriate in building strong relationships at the personal level, especially with family members. It is most noted that when family members focus on themselves in solving problems, nothing constructive ever happens. All my siblings, including parents, and myself have not been team players for most of our lives. I hear the word “I” and “me” far too often, still to this day. It is my sincere opinion that the sooner all of us make the family relationship bigger than ourselves, we will all be on the road to healing and recovery in a more expedient manner. It is so much easier to communicate with people in general when “we” is in context at all times. We are making good progress and in writing this story, it is beginning to become apparent that my brothers and sister think about the value of “we” more now than ever. I definitely dislike hearing the use of “I” most of the time. The reality is that for most things in life it is “we” who develop unconditional love together as a family unit. Unconditional love is not possible in the context of “I.”