So interesting, I enjoyed a wonderful day off work all to myself and then, while relaxing with an audio book, I was reminded of the crippling self doubt on which I was raised. Before finding the rooms of recovery at age 40, I had always deeply believed in my own unworthiness: that the world (particularly my angry brown non-Christian family and my angry white Christian community) would be better off without me, did not want me, and was rooting against me. Those belonging in my family of origin, frequently employed the word WE, the royal WE, when speaking about themselves and the rest of their family. The silent army. The “You are either with US or against US” mentality proved toxic for me. Apparently being uniquely me, rendered me a menacing enemy.
I suppose that if genuine and prevailing trust is the currency of love, it makes good sense that I felt
hated unloved in my home and family. Void of any identifiable source of comfort, connection, belonging, loyalty, I became a lost (having no purpose) desperate needy mess –particularly on the most special of family occasions. This typically manifested in physical illness, which was openly judged as “she just wants attention”. For the record, grown ups care givers, if a child wants attention, it is not a crime. Maybe they are asking to feel understood, comforted, connected, or significant. It is true– that can seem inconvenient, an unwelcome distraction from yourself, boring, or just plain difficult. But, if showing up for your child is difficult, that is proof of your need to grow- not the child’s need to shrink. I do believe that trying to break a child down into more manageable pieces is a crime, though–or maybe just very sick behavior and proof of unhealed trauma.
What can I learn from this, besides to not ridicule, alienate, or triangulate against my own children (or others((When we know better, we do better))? Be kind. Listen. Show up. Be curious. Ask Questions. Listen some more. Stay. Model (healthy) kind and benevolent interactions, particularly with those designated as inside the circle of trust. How will I maintain and grow the concept of trust with my sons?
Trust is built over time and broken in a split second, by a single word or action which communicates “you matter less than me”.
I continually and intentionally invite my boys to show me who they are.
I encourage them to identify and pursue their gifts, strengths, talents, passions–their truths.
I will be mindful of any consistent messaging to my sons about fitting in and belonging. I hope they will choose paths of bridge building rather than gate-keeping.
A deep sense of belonging and purpose– This is what I want for my boys. A sense of belonging and purpose which is born out of embracing (or at the very least, not denying) and living out our truest truths surrounded closely, by those who not only tolerate, but solicit self discovery and authentic living.Much Love,
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