The Royal Family is just a family

Anyone who knows me will know I’m obsessed with the British royal family. I will never forget the wedding of William and Kate, which took place during my freshman year of high school. My computer science teacher shared a classroom with another teacher who played the wedding for us and I was thrilled. While I often stare dreamily at the Princess of Wale’s outfits and wish I had the physIque to pull them off, I’ve been glued to the interviews preceding the release of Harry’s new memoir. In each interview I’ve watched, I can feel the resentment and anger through the screen. I think he has been deemed abandoned by everyone, including his brother and father. He resents both of them putting the institution ahead of his well-being and is demanding to be heard. What I see is a man in tremendous pain and I see a story that echoes through so many families. 

I have felt for years that an essential part of growing up is evaluating how you were raised and coming to grips with what that means for the individual personally. Harry had to grow up in a manner very different from what I experienced. What I can relate to is feeling lost and wishing someone would’ve stepped in and prevented your suffering. Growing up, I started struggling with clinical levels of anxiety around age five. Depression started creeping in during high school and I spiraled during college. Panic attacks became a fixture in my life starting freshman year of high school and didn’t get better until years later. Not only was I struggling with undiagnosed and untreated mental health issues, but I also couldn’t connect with my peers in the ways I yearned to because of my disability. Once I graduated college (the first time) and had my mental health crisis, I had to do the agonizing work of understanding how I ended up in the state I was in. A big part of this was understanding that I had been sick longer than I realized. Once I was out of the crisis, I was consumed with anger. My anger was primarily regarding my lack of a diagnosis in childhood. 

This anger consumed me and I felt like my entire body was on fire. Nothing could quench the flames. I had a few heated conversations with my parents before I realized, what needed healing wasn’t going to be fixed without professional help. I had been out of therapy for about a year and was so happy I hadn’t needed it. As the anger bubbled inside of me, I made an appointment with a new therapist. I spent so many sessions excavating the sources of my deepest pain. It felt like I was getting nowhere a lot of the time. It was exhausting. Through therapy, I started to realize the story of my childhood wasn’t just about me. It mattered what my parent’s childhoods had been like. It mattered how they viewed mental health and the resources available to pediatricians to screen for autism, especially in girls. I wanted there to be a simple answer as to why I had suffered for so long. I wanted there to be one party to blame. This wasn’t the case. With time and reflection, I have come to realize that my parents did the best they could with what they had at the time. There were many painful moments in my childhood and there were also lots of happy ones. I always knew I was loved and supported. It has also helped to have friends who are parents with children close to my age. They tell me stories of how they hoped they made the right choices, but it was hard to always know the right thing to do. One of them says frequently “ There is no handbook on parenting”. 

I wonder if Harry has spent any time reflecting on what his father’s childhood was like for him. It’s well documented that Charles was a different kind of man than his father. His father enjoyed physically challenging tasks and was rough around the edges. He was blunt and didn’t always show affection how Charles would’ve liked. A story that has always stood out to me is how Charles attended the same boarding school his father had loved attending and was miserable. He was bullied and begged to be able to leave. He was told no. Charles was raised during a time when children were left with nannies for months at a time while parents traveled overseas. I wonder how that influenced Charle’s views on parenting and what kind of trauma lurks in his past. 

This is the story of every generation of children. We ask our parents why they raised us how they did. Each generation does the best it can for their children. Parents are humans and make mistakes. There is no perfect human parent. I have to say, I do not think this airing of dirty laundry will lead to the reconciliation Harry wants. There have been many painful conversations I have had with family members that I have chosen not to share. These moments are private and are mine. I don’t feel anything can be gained by going into graphic detail. I’m also keenly aware that I choose to blog about my life, and my family but embers don’t. 

I hope Harry will come to realize that healing and peace will not come from shouting into the void how wrong he was. I have tried this and it only brings more pain for everyone involved. I believe that most parents love and do the best they can for their children. The last thing they want to do is cause them pain. It can be helpful and healing to express how their action or inaction affected you and help both parties reach closure. These conversations are private and sacred. I hope he is able to find the same peace that I have. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: