The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Self-Parenting

For many years, I often read or heard – “You need to learn how to parent yourself.”

"How do you do that?" I questioned repeatedly.

Parenting classes helped me raise my own children, but how do I parent myself? Isn’t there a book or a guide?

Nobody could give me an answer.

Finally, someone said to me, "There is no good answer, because the key to what
you lacked from your mother as a child is really locked within you. There is no universal template that fits for everyone."

As vague as that sounds – it made sense. I realized that in order to nurture myself, I needed to look beyond the actual abuse I experienced, and unlock the mystery of all that I didn’t receive. In other words, I knew what I did receive - the constant threat and reality of physical violence. It took many years for me to realize what I didn't receive - physical comfort and safety.

It is difficult to figure out what we lacked as children. How does one know what they never learned?

I let the comfort I give my own children guide me, by imagining myself loved in the same way. Sometimes, I’d watch other mothers loving their children. I’d mourn for what I lost, and then I’d mother myself.

I traveled back to visit the child me, and to bear witness to all that she missed: physical comfort, emotional reassurance, safety, self-compassion, and the ability to self-soothe.

During many instances, I visualized the little me – the hurting, frightened, alone, and damaged me. These occasions caused feelings of sadness and compassion for the little girl of long ago – feelings that although deeply mournful, were also compassionate, reassuring, and healing. I’d speak to and hold the “child me,” offering her love and protection.

Slowly but surely, I worked through a list of emotional necessities that I realized I didn't receive, and I modeled other parents behavior to figure out how to give these qualities to myself. This is a long, on-going process, but as I reconstruct these basic skills, I feel stronger, whole, safe, and free.

6 comments:

Marj aka Thriver said...

Re-parenting my own inner child has been a very big part of my own healing. Thank you for this excellent post and for joining us for the BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE. Welcome aboard! I hope that you will submit again. (I maintain the carnival.)

healandforgive said...

Hi Marj, Thank you for your comments, and for checking out my post. The whole concept of self-parenting has been very frustrating for me because it is the one area of recovery where I was unable to find any resources.
Your December 19th Post (Haunting My Halls: The Ghost of Christmas Past & Present), is heartfelt and compelling. I read it about a week ago and was touched by how thoughtfully you modeled your own self-parenting for others.

The BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE is great! I’m new to blogging (trying to learn my way around)and just recently discovered the Carnival. I’d love to participate again!

Thanks again for stopping by.

Patricia Singleton said...

Great article. When I first admitted to myself that I was a victim of sexual abuse (This was years before I reached the Survivor stage.) There were very few books of any kind on Sexual Abuse. One of the few books that I found was written by Claudia Black. I don't remember the name. This was in the late 1970's. I know what your frustration is like. Thanks for writing about it for others to see. I just discovered blogging in 2007 and started writing my own blog in June. It was a few months later that I started writing about my own incest issues. I believe that the more of us who go public with our stories, the more other people become knowledgable about the abuse so it can be stopped. I look forward to reading more of your writings.

healandforgive said...

Hi Patricia, Thank you for the validation. I agree that sharing ours stories is important for healing and for prevention.

I very much like your blog. I'm always in awe of those who can put their spiritual practice into words. Spiritual practice has been an important part of my recovery. Yet, I'm not very good at putting my own principles and practice into written form.

I like your God Box post. I have used this practice as well. Only my minister called it a God Can (it was made out of a can) as in "I can't – God Can."

Thanks again!

April_optimist said...

Great post. Self-parenting was key for me--and hard. I had to get a doll that reminded me of the child I'd once been before I could even begin to let myself love and nurture the child I once was. Later I could do it internally, just by imagining holding and comforting the scared child inside. But at the beginning? Sooooo hard to do.

healandforgive said...

Thanks April! I like your doll idea. I floundered for years, trying to find a starting point to mother myself. I love that I have heard from other survivors in the past few days who have successfully dealt with this issue. Good stuff!