I have a sense of something that seems very important but I can’t quite figure it out. I imagine it might be a more slippery, blurred felt sense of a thing than a solid, distinct cognitive understanding. But just in case anyone else can make sense of it or already worked on this… I’m gonna post my ponderings…
I’ve been struggling with these critical thoughts that tell me I’m gonna damage my kids just because I’m here. Every little thing I do, I imagine how I might fuck then up. I imagine them taking these things to therapy in twenty years time. Struggling with their self esteem. Having insecure attachment patterns. Wishing they’d had a different childhood. Cutting me out their lives. I imagine them recalling their mum being distant or needing space or leaving for a few hours every week (for therapy). I tie myself in knots worrying about what I should and shouldn’t be doing. How I should change. What I should do differently.
I know both of my parents behaved in abusive and neglectful ways through my life. I am working hard to not do anything that could be neglectful or abusive. I can be certain I have never called my kids names. I have never deliberately shamed them. I have never hit my children. I have never told my children sexually inappropriate things. I have never put them in dangerous situations. I have never let anyone hurt my children. I have never blamed my children for things that weren’t their fault. So, already they have a different life to the one I lived. I can already see my kids are more joyful, energetic, confident and alive and present than I was at their age. Despite this I often fear I am worse than my mum. Because I worry so much about hurting my kids, I spend a lot of time unintentionally distancing myself from them to protect them. I dissociate in their company. I find myself depersonalised. I watch my family as if I am walking through a re-enactment museum. Viewing a happy family from the outside. Not a part of it.
Despite knowing I am not deliberately hurting my kids, I still have a phobia that I am fucking them up. A fear so powerful that it feels COMPLETELY REAL AND TRUE. Whyyyy????
Does it have something to do with the fact that, on a physical and emotional level, there is a very powerful felt sense that my childhood ‘wasn’t that bad’? I haven’t cried or grieved anything that happened in my childhood. So… is it that until I fully acknowledge and grieve the severity of the abuse and neglect I experienced, I won’t be able to see the reality of the current situation and how I am as a mother and what my kids experience? Is it that I will constantly think my childhood and my kids childhood are the same thing… ‘not that bad’? Right now, what I’m telling myself repeatedly is that what I went through as a child wasn’t that bad. On top of that, another repeated story is that anything bad that happened through my childhood was my fault, therefore I’m the toxic and poisonous one and I will damage my kids in the same way that I ruined things when I was a kid.
I can’t seem to separate the two. My childhood v my kids childhood. And I’ve been thinking about the Internal Family Systems model (especially after watching a therapy session with Alanis Morissette and Richard Schwartz on the Embodiment Conference where she explores her child parts). I’ve been thinking about my exiled child parts. Maybe one or some of them are running this part of my issues. The fear that I’m hurting my kids. Maybe a child part in me doesn’t know I grew up… doesn’t know I’m not still back there… maybe part of me thinks I need to protect my kids like I protected my brother. I really don’t know. But it feels like a connection is there somewhere I just can’t quite grasp it. Somethings about accepting my childhood in order to see the reality of life currently.
So, this is kind of all over the place… but I just really want to understand where the connection is between my childhood and my motherhood…. and why this is so alive for me now when really it belongs in the past. Mark said to me recently, ‘you can’t change the past but you can change your relationship with it. At time’s your feelings come through, emotional flashbacks, memories… and you grip them and it’s a bit like getting rope burn. I think over time you can let go of the rope a bit more. It doesn’t mean that there is no rope or that it wasn’t there, it means that you don’t need to grip it so tightly.’ But I wonder if I need to really grip it hard, scream and cry out in pain, study the right twists and sharp edges of that rope… with razors in each bound knot… tend to the burns, share them and allow them to be dressed and healed… before finally letting go?
How can I get to a place where I can physically feel the reality of the situation I currently live in, where there is no fear and anxiety that I’m damaging my kids?