The importance of acceptance and grief? (Input gratefully received!)

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?

15 thoughts on “The importance of acceptance and grief? (Input gratefully received!)

  1. LovingSummer

    I mirror you with fear of damaging my kids too and imagining them hating me because they have to have therapy to recover from me. I haven’t worked through that so I can’t help, but if I ever do, I’ll blog it! So it’s just to let you know you’re not alone there. Sorry I can’t be of more help that that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks LS. I woke up to 24 DM’s from people going into various amounts of detail about their experiences with what I wrote about so we are definitely not alone. What a blessing to have so many people connect with me and reassure me that this too is part of so many peoples journeys. And you know, a couple of them said along the lines of… awareness is better than what we had. And that’s so true. My parents were not aware. If we shed some awareness on our behaviours and thoughts and feelings, we’re already doing better 💫

      Hope you’re okay LS. 💞

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LovingSummer

        That’s really good to hear you’ve got 24 replies like that! I agree, if you worry you’re a bad parent you probably aren’t and they do say that the repair is the crucial part. So I keep short accounts with repairing any attachment breaches with my boys.

        How do you DM on WordPress, is that email of through a contact form?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah it helps to know this is ‘a thing’ as in, one of the common after affects of surviving childhood abuse/neglect is worrying you’ll hurt your own kids. I know I won’t do anything near what my parents did to me but it’s an irrational fear that I am toxic and will damage them just by being close to them.

        The DMs are on the Instagram page that I have attached to this WordPress account.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t know if this helps, but about 5 years ago when I was having similar worries, a different therapist, not K, said to me ‘N will have her own healing to do’. She meant that I couldn’t do it all for her (at the time we were cutting contact with N’s grandma, my mum, and there was a lot of heartache and grief for N which I was worried about, though she is more than fine now), but she also said it won’t be like the healing I’ve needed to do either. For some reason these words really helped me, just to acknowledge that there inevitably would be healing needed because this toxic legacy going back many generations on both sides of my family couldn’t be wiped out in one go. And it helped because it was realistic, acknowledged there would be damage and that I couldn’t eradicate all that however much I wanted to, and it made me determined not only to heal myself but also to be there when N does do her own healing work in future (I hope a lot more gently than you or I have needed to) and to be able to take on anything she throws at me rather than gaslighting her or getting defensive. (At the moment N is going through a very teenage phase of challenging me and picking at all my defences and character flaws, which is nice, and so keeping in mind this promise I made to not pretend I’m something I’m not is really helping!).

    I am confident that your children won’t have anywhere close to the amount of healing you’ve needed to do, and I don’t think the depths they’ll need to go to will be as painful, but I found a mindshift on this (which I often have to come back to!!) very helpful as part of our fear is that we are toxic, but the other part is that drive to be perfect, and of course we are not and of course our children will have been impacted by our own struggles – it would be expecting too much that they would come through childhood unscathed at the best of times, but particularly when we’ve experienced the amount of despair and distress we have due to our own childhoods. Getting passed the all or nothing, I’ve fucked her up/she’s totally fine mindset has really helped me!

    I hope this helps – from everything you’ve written you are doing GREAT by bringing awareness to your parenting and own process and repairing ruptures as they happen x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for all this – it’s interesting because I really don’t want to think about my kids being traumatised by me but equally I hope they do enjoy self exploration and want to build self awareness through therapy. I just can’t stand the idea that my careless or selfish behaviours could damage them permanently and make their whole adult lives worse because of the way I’ve been. Like the partners they choose or the jobs they seek or whatever. It all starts here and now… the foundations for all of it are rooted in childhood.

      But I can hear that a lot of that is anxiety talking, and maybe suppressed anger and resentment at the way my life was negatively shaped by my parents careless selfishness.

      It’s like any phobia or whatever… I’m trying to think of an example. Like maybe similar to body dysmorphia or something like that. You can’t talk the person out of thinking the way they think or feel. A part of me truly believes this shit 😂 and only a tonne of therapy will help me move away from these beliefs.

      Thank you for your comment and encouragement though, it does help to have the dialogue 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally relate to this. After a tonme of therapy I now say that, for the most part, I’ve shifted these beliefs 😂 I still split myself occasionally so that I can’t see any of the good I’ve done, but it is rare now. It’s probably happened twice this year for a day at most. Mostly I can hold the good and bad together now and be honest that I’ve fucked up but still been good enough, and acknowledging the fuck ups doesn’t trigger me into toxic shame where I’m the worst parent ever and the same as my parents.

        Our kids will need healing from some of what we’ve done, but it won’t be a fucking lifetime of absolute torturous agony like you and I have had before they get there! Hang in there with it all xx


  3. I don’t have any words of wisdom I’m afraid. I just noticed that I seem to be coming at it from a slightly different angle. I parent my children intentionally quite differently to how I was parented, yet I have still insisted until very recently that my childhood was ‘perfect’. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t)
    It took T a lot of gentle prodding to get me to see the cognitive dissonance between “my childhood was perfect” and “no way are my children having the same childhood experiences I did”. Seems obvious now but it took me a loooooong time to see it.
    From what you write on here, it sounds like you’re doing a great job of giving your children a better childhood experience than you had. I know I’m 100x a better parent from being emotionally re-parented in therapy. But I’m sure we all screw our kids up in some ways despite our best efforts not to. Apparently(!) there’s no such thing as a perfect parent, even though I held out on the ideal of my parents being perfect for a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I had parts of me that insisted my childhood was perfect and believed I was the one with the problem. I definitely need to explore more the acknowledgement and grief around what my childhood was actually like.


  4. myjourneytohealthandwellnesssite

    Hi Lucy,

    I can fully relate. I say this to my therapist often that I fear I’m hurting my kids just having them watch me go through this. Like you I feel hard to be present with them and not be outside of the situation. Connection with my kids and those closest to me is the hardest part of all this. I want to but I can’t. Thanks for sharing and keep fighting Momma, our kids will be better for our hard work now right?


    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am not a mother of children but recently I acted out some of what happened to me in childhood around making a mess with my dog and I had the most extreme reaction of grief.. This is hard to say but if we are wounded sometimes we act it out.. we aren’t to blame if we do, only if we split off and continue not to change reactions.. We are NOT PERFECT. We all get wounded and sometimes we act out those wounds.. I would say just try to have compassion for the fearful part of you and see that the fact you feel so terrified speaks volumes for the fact you are not a bad person, just someone who was hurt so much. .<3

    Liked by 1 person

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