I've been in group and individual counseling sessions for some 24 years at TLC.
And I hear often from clients abused as children. Not with fists. Not with belts. Or kicks. Or slaps. But with words. Simple words. Ugly words.
Things like "You'll never be worth a shit." "Your brother is smarter than you." "Are you retarded or something?"
The phrases take a lot of forms. But when children hear them enough they become tangled in their subconscious. And they lie there like hidden computer code, sending messages that block success and happiness.
Some parents have issues themselves with alcohol and drugs. Or they have psychological issues. They are poorly equipped to direct the lives of others. But they do long term damage to children - often contributing to their substance abuse.
What to do? It takes a lot of counseling and inner work for us to remove these old messages.
Once we discover these old messages we can remove them with self-awareness and inner work. But it takes diligence and a strong desire to live life by our own definitions - not the definitions of others.
In the meantime we give others words of love and kindness. That's the kind of legacy that can change lives.