My youngest child is completely special. You probably can say the same thing about your children. In fact, we all feel that our children are special, gifted, maybe even extraordinary, right? They probably are. In fact, I know they are...so maybe you will indulge me for a moment...because I didn't always feel this way...
Raising my youngest was hard...like, reach into the depths of darkness hard. Like, maybe I should lock myself in a room for the day hard. That kind of hard. I was raising her on my own, after ending an abusive relationship with her biological co-creator. I was on high alert for the very real possibility of what comes next when you end a relationship with someone abusive. I was grieving. I was healing. She was grieving. She was healing.
She was too young to have any physical memories of this relationship, but our unconscious mind has a way of knowing all that is around us and holding onto it...letting it seep out in behaviors, emotions or thoughts. Her way of healing the trauma we all suffered was to act out what she was feeling. It came out in severe emotional and intense aggressive outbursts. She would, for example and without provocation, start swinging...physically removing her from the situation would lead to kicking, biting, screaming, crying, exhaustion. She expressed her pain through aggression. I had to to express my love and acceptance through extreme patience. And she was only three.
Now, readers...if you know anything about me, I am an avid solution focused type of girl. If there is a problem, I don't have a tendency to linger at the pity party too long. So after a short amount of time crying in the bathroom (actually it was an outhouse, as we lived too simply to even have a bathroom back then) and feeling completely helpless, I called a friend. She was a new friend, so it felt completely scary and vulnerable to share with her what I was feeling. To share the shame that comes with you owning your part in the disaster. To share the mistakes, the tears and the utter hopelessness that these moments bring. We don't want to fail our children. Not even for a moment. And opening yourself up to let someone else see that in you...really see all of the pieces that make you up...well...that is damn frightening.
But think about it...if we don't, we miss this opportunity to connect, to not feel alone...we are stronger together, ladies. We really are.
It was within that one moment, that I felt valued. I felt safe. There was no judgement, no blaming and ladies, I felt seen. Not through a lens of what I should have done to prevent this or what I should be doing to parent better...it was just me and this new friend was there to bear witness...hold a space for what I was going through...hold a space...just for me. And instead of asking me how I was going to change my daughter's behavior or how I was going to change mine, she asked one simple question that changed the course of how I parented her...
What is she offering to teach you about your journey here?
Wow. This is about to get deep. You ready, readers?
See...this is the thing. We are all here, on this planet together. We are all connected on some level, but we go through life on auto pilot, barely acknowledging everyone around us. And when we do, we frequently reacting to them with strong emotions without even giving it much thought. We have triggers, we have anger, we have issues...and instead of consciously choosing how to respond to what happens to us, we react without even thinking about why we are reacting. As we get older, these become patterns and we eventually don't even put any thought into how we react or why we are angry...we just respond with our ingrained, but highly predictable pattern. But the great thing is, that there are people that have been put on this planet of ours to teach us these amazing lessons that can help break the patterns, that can challenge your ingrained ways of doing things. We just have to pay attention.
So when this woman asked me what my daughter was here to teach me, I dug deep. Because this was no longer about how to stop what was going on. it was about her teaching me what I needed (which would then help her). And guess what? The answer was so simple...
Every single outburst my daughter had reminded me of my failings (insert love and compassion). Every tear she had reminded me of how I could have done better (insert love and forgiveness). Every extreme tantrum gave me feelings of hopelessness (enter love and strength). This new outlook changed everything. And I was just getting started.
Every time she had an aggressive outburst was now looked at as an opportunity for me to practice what I needed to in order to love myself. Screaming was met with compassion, flailing arms were met with extreme patience and collapsing on the floor because there was just no longer any energy left, was met with the fiercest love around. Me.
Ladies, we are given all sorts of parenting tricks and techniques. We are given so much advice that it sometimes makes our head spin. We are told to shrink in order to nicely fit into someone else's world. We are silenced, ridiculed, harassed. We are made to feel unloved, unlovable, and inferior. We have a long road ahead of us. But we can do something. Right now. Just for us.
We can love ourselves. Fiercely love ourselves. Without hesitation.
Thinking about how many years I have wasted not loving myself makes me want to cry (but I will save that for another day). Right now though, I am full of gratitude for a life well led (lessons and all). And for that, I thank that incredibly passionate daughter of mine.