Do You Feel “Impuned & Punished” When Sick?

by | Feb 20, 2022

Feeling “impuned & punished” makes sick people sicker!”

“INTRODUCTION When someone is affected by mental illness or addiction, it can affect the entire family. When that person enters treatment, the family’s pain and confusion don’t just go away.

How does any family member move past the damage that has occurred? How does the family as a whole strengthen the ties that hold it together?

Family therapy is one answer. It works together with individual therapy for the benefit of all family members.”

Kindness & Empathy!

As a child and young adult in my home, we really didn’t learn much about love and kindness. Geeze, we never hugged that much, if at all.

In this kind of self serving, authoritarian family culture and structure, punishment is at the center of motivation, control as well. Sound familiar?

I’ve spent a lifetime learning about kindness and love, especially since my marriage to Judy, 38 years ago. Still a work in progress.

One’s mind as a child is influenced by the environment, really. I get that now. We are programmed one way or the other. Kinda like Google, a matrix of markers, circuits, and connectors.

Here are a few rewiring problems I work on everyday. Judy tries to help me, but with frustration and patience, I hope. She’s a warrior ❤️


We felt punished and impuned growing up as Catholics back then. At least, this is what my heart hurt from everytime something “wrong” blinked in my mind.


“Stephen is stealing from the frig!” This one triggers me to this day. I still look around to see who’s watching when opening the frig. If Judy comes to the kitchen in that moment, ohhh, I jump, in a apologetic expression of being scorned.

Sound ridiculous? Well, it is.


Being late for anything was a 1st degree offense! No tolerance whatsoever, only severe punishment. Beatings to boot. Grounded, shunned, left in despair, was the remedy, my parents thought, I believe.


Feeling one’s Oats was unacceptable and uncomfortable in our home. We had to hide those feelings. I was caught once, still remember this event. It messes with your head. I was afraid of girls until after joining the Navy at age 17.

I watched and heard conversations about how “dirty” sex was. Making statements about how sinful sex is. Going to ‘confession’ each Saturday at St. Philomeno Catholic Church never worked.


Holy Jesus! This was a complete disaster before a date. I was always so nervous during the date, it probably didn’t make my date happy with me.

Then, once home, it was the ‘evil eye’ and 20 questions. You know the drill. Sneaking around is far easier.

Asking for help or support

The big ‘ask’ was always a stress and stretch game of back ‘n forth. Always, excuses that were always the same, “too tired, too sick, too poor, too sad, too mad, too loud.” But, never, “how can I help?”

Early to bed, early to rise

This sounds good. But, in my home it was simply motivated by parental convenience. They had enough of 3 boys at the end of the day. No sleeping in, even on weekends. No exceptions unless you were so sick, getting out of bed would be worse for them.

My father used his highly skilled US Navy discipline for young sailors like us kids. It was, “reveille, reveille, all hands heave out, and thrice up!” That was after the “b’swain whistle.” A high pitched sound that would make you jump to your feet and salute instantly.

Bribes, threats, reprisals, and bullying

Most interactions included a criteria of acusastion, inquisition and punishment for presumed wrong doing. I don’t remember very much applause about anything until I joined the Navy.

I loved Bootcamp. What a gift. The Navy saved my life!

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
View all posts by stevesparks →

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