Thursday, September 21, 2006

Skipped Parts

We are attached, Sienna and I. She is as dependent as she is willful. She chases after her freedom, her "no MEs," her "I can DO its," while still clinging, refusing to let go. It's Ok, I say, you're only 4. There's no race to grow up. Be here for a while.

We tackle another round of wails and death grips by the preschool gate. Would it be so bad if I spend another 5 minutes hugging her into reassurance this morning? For Godsakes, we could be at war tomorrow!

I was as willful as a child, yet it was tempered with fear. Fear of a rage that could render me useless. Pushing ahead, trying to achieve independence, mastery, acceptance, while skipping over very basic developments, such as emotional security and trust. I spent my youth as an adult, detached, vying for acceptance, achieving for validation while worrying about my mother, predicting her moods, her needs never satisfied. "Look Ma, no hands. Look Ma, principal cellist. Look Ma, I got the lead. Look Ma, I got a job. Look Ma, top of my class. Look Ma, ivy league school."

Physically I was fine. I could keep up with the rest. Intellectually I was advanced, although it seemed normal to me. Being a May baby I started school early, skipped 8th grade, by 13 I was in English Lit classes with 16 yr-olds, and at the end of high school I was 16 with college credits. Did it matter that I had a head full of learning when I was nothing inside?

My emotional development came through pouring my feelings into the arts. I was on a mission to express myself, through music, dance, the theater, art. It was all about displacement. Being someone else. Feeling somewhere safe. Escape to another world. I tried not to look inside myself. When I did I was lonely, empty, and sad. So full of life and yet, so full of holes.

I spent my 20's proving I was a worthy adult. Loving despite my self-hatred. I attracted one-night stands and triangles, or unrequited love. I was falling apart with walls of steel.

I spent my 30's becoming a teenager, reliving (somebody else's) youth, putting down roots, taking the time to play, have fun, to heal and grow, and to finally catch up socially. I found acceptance and support. I grew into me.

Now I'm a mother, and much more is becoming clear. I watch the natural progression of child development, nurtured in my daughter, uninterrupted this time. No skipped parts.

In some ways, I was older when I was younger. I am younger now.

As a mother, I am fully connecting the dots, learning as my child does how to nurture, value and support my self and others.

Sometimes I think we were picked for this exceptional preschool for my growth, as well as hers. I have learned as much or more about emotional development (recovery), boundaries (mine and hers), trying something different (a different approach), overcoming obstacles, conflict resolution, learning to share and take turns, multiple perspectives, building community, working as a team for the collective good, listening, finding value and respect in my work as well as others.

My coping came from survival. It was fight or flight, or surf the wave of emotions and try not to get sucked under. I grew up fighting. Pushing back against the world. Feeling inadequate, punched full of holes.
Filling anger with ambition.
Filling sadness with sex.
Filling self-hatred with vanity.
Filling doubt with escape.

That was then. The holes don't deplete me now. I have been filling the holes, turning the soil, watering it well, so I can become who I was meant to be, all that I am.

I surrender to Love, and give thanks. And when you need another hug, I'll give it.


Suzy said...

Amazing post- so much in one post.
One line out of many lines jumped out at me, "Did it matter that I had a head full of learning when I was nothing inside?" I don't think you have ever been empty inside. Couldn't happen!
Also," I tried not to look inside myself. When I did I was lonely, empty, and sad. So full of life and yet, so full of holes." You knew even then by your intuition and your heart, there was more brewing, and like so many of us, repressed it out of fear. You are an amazing woman who knew then and know now, how and when to connect the dots.

Carrie Wilson Link said...
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