A Season of Reparenting

“What a shame” were the words uttered by the professional sitting across from me as we discussed the relationship I had with those who raised me.

I walked out of that office feeling opened up, and the hole was too big for me to cover quick enough to get on with my day. What a shame. The words continued to reverberate in my mind, bouncing off the walls of my heart like an extra bouncy pinball machine. What a shame.

Her eyes were watery, a reflection of mine, but the words were not present with me. What a shame was not demonstrative of understanding my hurt, my pain, the unearthing of my attachment wounds. And actually, what a shame was true.

It is a shame that my caregivers did the very best they could and provided me with so much stability growing up, and still this wound shows its head in small doses.

It is a shame that colonialism and whitebodysupremacy has interrupted the beautiful dynamic of a mother and her child.

It is a shame that I taught myself most things like how to stay focused, do excellent work, excel in in all things, assess a room and adjust accordingly (code switching).

It is a shame that once when I was young, while watching my brother after school, I developed an escape plan for us both through the laundry room, out the back gate, to the neighbor’s house with all the kids and a stay-at-home mom, because there was loud banging on our front door and my working parents were not available. The loud banging turned out to be a police officer responding to a 911 call from my brother who dialed his friend’s number incorrectly, and then hung up when he realized he made a big mistake.

It is a shame that I developed disordered eating over a handful of years in junior high and high school, and only a couple friends knew about it at the time.

It is a shame that I wanted so badly to look like the “pretty girls” with blonde hair and blue eyes, peach skin, and so I struggled so much with the dark hair on my upper lip, plucked my beautiful thick eyebrows to death (to this day remain dormant for the longest hibernation in all history, lol), and attempted using Sun In, only to turn my scalp orange (it did nothing to my hair).

It is a shame that when I raised my hand to ask to go to the bathroom in elementary school, and my teacher asked if I could wait until recess, I said yes, but actually couldn’t, and was so scared of taking care of my needs for fear of going against authority that I peed right there in the chair. An even bigger shame that my teacher was baffled and said, “But I asked you if you could wait and you said yes!” It is a shame she didn’t understand I just wanted to please her.

It’s a shame that my life with my partner, I have struggled to be seen, clawing my way out of the overshadow of a husband, or just surrendering to being called his wife rather than by my name.

It’s a shame that people let their trauma and personal past experiences get in the way of truly seeing me.

What I needed to hear that morning was, “I see your hurt.” I see that you and your family have struggled in some challenging times, and have blown in with your resiliency cape like a superhero despite all odds.

I see that your parents provided so much more for you than they had, and you are better for it.

I see that little girl who wants to be seen–I see her here today, right now.

So I’ve been doing that for myself. I have acknowledged and seen mi niña interior, and I’ve just been loving on her. Wrapping myself in a rebozo, almost swaddled like a baby. Listening to and singing Indigenous lullabies, as I rock myself. Cozy. Warm.

I’ve been sharing with a friend whom I trust with my whole self, and she’s been so graciously offering care and tenderness in a way that only someone who has been through the same thing, understands.

Tending to our inner child can feel like a strange or foreign concept at first. It can feel weird trying to figure out what to do first. But I think just taking a few moments to quiet ourselves, and ask what that inner younger self needs is a great start.

Maybe you can journal, or sing a song that was sung to you–a song you wish was sung to you. Maybe you can hold yourself with your own arms, or imagine the love that comes back for you as you tend to and care for other little ones. Maybe you can go run around on the playground and be silly, swing on a swing, or do a kid activity, buy a stuffed animal that looks nurturing. There are so many ways to care for our child selves. And I can only dream what the world might be like if you and I take those few moments to be right with ourselves again. Think of how we could show up in our relationships, in our work, in our community. This is the healed self I wish for you and for me. And I think this is what was always wanted for us, by those who raised us too.

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