#18 The shame of messing up my kids woke me up.
#2 How parents inadvertently shut down there kids. Being a 'good girl' into adulthood, people pleasing instead of trusting our own intuition.
This post was going to be entitled- did your parents mess you up? I even wrote it. But it felt really uncomfortable to share and frankly unfair. Because although my parents made some mistakes, they love me very much and I am also guilty of making many mistakes myself. So here I am taking responsibility.
I am not writing this for sympathy. We all make mistakes. I don’t need help. I have done a lot of work on my relationships with my children and the guilt I have felt as a parent. I am sharing honestly and authentically in the hope there will be something here that helps. I have forgiven myself for many of my mistakes and for now live with some others.
My first two sons were planned. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life but I did know I wanted a family. At the age of twenty I had my first son followed two years later by my second. I found it easy. I was very organised and very domesticated and had had great role models in how to run a home. But I found it boring and I got frustrated. A woman with a brain needs stimulation and interesting conversations. I was isolated, living in a tiny rural hamlet and we had very little money.
The last time I smacked my eldest child (for which I am totally ashamed) I knew in that instant that he wasn’t being naughty at all but that I had created a very unhappy life for myself. I was deeply unhappy in my relationship and couldn’t see a way out. Luke was simply expressing himself in some way and I wasn’t able to listen to his needs.
Shame is a powerful emotion that can be useful and healthy. (Shame can also be toxic. More about that later). On this occasion it woke me up to what was actually happening and made me explore what I could do to change my behaviour and my life.
Has this happened to you too?
I didn’t have any of the skills, knowledge or insights that I have now. I only had the role models from my own childhood. They were a mixed bag but I was still under the impression that their way was the right way. We were pretty good and caring people after all.
Now when I see children I am filled with a sense of delight at their innocence and playfulness and curiosity and KNOW that that is what needs to be nurtured and cherished. That is what brings people alive. Feeling that life energy that wants to come through and following it and expressing it in exactly the right way for us. Not for mum or dad or our teacher, friend or brother but for us! But I didn’t know this back then and I wasn’t doing that. I was pushing them to grow up quicker and be independent so I could get on with my life, not realising that THIS was my life!
I wrapped Luke in my arms and said sorry. I knew it wasn’t right to smack him but I still didn’t know how to change things. How to manage big emotions and frustration. How to nurture his nature.
I got curious about what was going on for me. It was, in a way, the beginning of my personal development journey. I started having counselling and got very interested in how we as humans tick. I did an introduction to counselling course. I read a few books from the time. One was about reducing stress and very practical. It was a great help. I became a little more focused on myself and made a few decisions about how I was spending my time. I started to walk regularly and have a bit of time on my own. And gradually became a better parent as I became a happier human. Eventually I found the courage to leave my marriage.
But I still had a LOT to learn.
While I had bent over backwards to people please as a child, my son fought for attention in any way he could. He rebelled. He got angry. He refused to do the things that keep us healthy especially when it came to food. He used the very things that I value to get my attention. He wasn’t doing this to harm me. HE WAS DOING THIS TO GET HIS NEEDS MET. He needed to be heard and accepted. He needed to have his desires considered. He needed more of my attention. He needed the space to explore who he was and who he wanted to be in the world.
I was striving for a better life. At first just to survive. Filling my life with more and more responsibility as I helped extended family members and got involved in crisis after crisis. Sucked into dramas that I needn’t have, but that kept me in the role and identity of a caring and reliable person. Boosting my false sense of self-worth but slowly killing me inside as I ignored my own needs too.
I had always tried to get my needs met by being a good girl. Twisting and turning to get the attention I needed. Glowing from praise or at least not getting shouted at so much like other kids. But being a good girl means trying to work out what good means from one day to the next. It’s exhausting.
Without awareness, we keep going through the same patterns. Doing the same old things into adulthood not realising it’s not working. Blaming everyone else or circumstances for our own unhappiness. It’s all mostly being run by unconscious beliefs.
With more awareness I began to see what makes us as humans tick. How we learn from the people around us. How we do what they do and ignore our own intuition. I became stronger, more assertive and to have firmer boundaries. I started to make decisions that were better for me and helped me feel better. Feeling better my children also felt better.
I was choosing a new way of being. I was being more myself. I was trusting my own intuition more.
Without any education on parenting my parents could only repeat what had happened to them. You can't know what you don't know. And I did the same when I had my children.
As we learn and grow we can make better decisions for our children and also for ourselves.
But it’s not that easy when we’re running Unconscious Beliefs that were decisions we made as young children. Core Beliefs that run our lives without us even realising.
It can be of course. Sometimes a crisis occurs or a moment in time wakes us up and an epiphany happens. But mostly old habits keep us stuck.
To develop awareness and then choose to change takes time and patience.
It’s important not to use the awareness as another way to beat ourselves up but instead catch ourselves and smile. Then remember and re-remember we’re not doing it that way any more.
Help and support has evolved well beyond the counselling I had in my early twenties. Practices such as energy psychology (Matrix reimprinting, EMDR, Psych K, EFT) and NLP can help get to the root cause. A good practitioner that you can relate to and feel safe with is essential.
I am putting together a list of trusted practitioners should you, or someone you know, need help and support. Word of mouth referrals generally work the best but many practitioners will offer a free call before you make your decision. And the internet has made it easier to ‘get to know’ people before you even speak to them. But if you need help, don’t delay. You and your children deserve to have the support, that let’s face it, should be taught in our early years.
How to live a happy, healthy life; a life that accepts and allows for emotions to be felt and expressed; a life that is full and wholsome is our birthright. Resilience and strength and joy come from being able to accept and navigate all that life brings us. And for us to make CONSCIOUS, ALIGNED AND HEALTHY DECISIONS FOR OURSELVES AND OUR CHILDREN.
I was well into my second marriage with two more children and two more step-children when I finally began to train as a Coach. In my late thirties I discovered the truth about what makes people tick. I learned to listen. I learned to accept my children for who they are. I had a second chance with my younger ones to get it right or at least not make so many mistakes. I still have made many mistakes. But this time I was much more conscious and I didn’t make the same ones. I still see how my behaviour, choices and biases have affected them but I can also see how they make their own decisions and are becoming the lovely young men they are.
In some ways they are more aware than I was at their age in spite of the mistakes I made. In some ways they still have a lot to learn. It will be interesting to see how they develop but my job is now done. I have done all I can. All I can do now is keep loving them.
From my True Self to Yours
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