I spent the first 40 years of my life needing people. ALL. THE. TIME. For everything: To eat, to sleep, to stay awake, to feel, to vent, to feel worthy… to feel better. When there was no voice on the other end of the line or arms to fall into at the beginning, middle or end of a particularly brutal day, I would scream in pain. I could not function. I had imprisoned myself in neediness and handed the keys to others. Only if they opened the lock would I breathe.
It was no way to live. I wasn’t free. I had jailed myself.
Finally, the day came when a friend left the keys outside my self-imposed prison.
I remember clearly the moment I knew no one was coming. That pain. It ripped me, tore at me in places I never knew. I had no air. There is no possible way my shriveled fingers would turn that lock. There is no way I could ever feel loved again, feel air, feel breeze, see colour, feel light, feel lit. My sun had set.
To this day I don’t know how I bore the agony. How I didn’t somehow succumb to ending it all. But then, I do know how… there was this one face, this tiny trusting face that looked upon me for light. My son would die without me. And I would NOT let him live in the dark. I would set myself free so I could be his light, his air… My courage is not mine; it is birthed by his love. My ability to build myself back up is not for me… it is for him. This is the power of children — they inspire us to raise ourselves.
As I sat day in and day out, alone, feeling the complete abandonment of my childhood… when I would ache for the phone to ring to hear THEIR voice, knowing that no one was coming… I realised why I had needed others. I could not face my pain and be there for myself because no one had physically and emotionally been there for me in my darkest hours of childhood.
And I finally felt the truth: There was no one coming anymore. There was only me; me, my constant. I was always there. I would always turn the key. I didn’t have to wait for me to show up. Just THIS realisation is freedom.
I don’t need anyone anymore in the way that I did. I am my air. My lungs are mine and my son’s; my heart is mine and his; my arms strong enough to hold me and him. As I lean into me, I show him how to be free.
There are only two people children truly need: their parents. They need their parents to be deep and full to feel nourished. That time of deep need… it is finite; it comes to an end. When children are given unconditional presence and love, they fill up. They FEEL their worth; their cup remains FULL in the face of famine. But to get our children to that powerful place of self-sufficiency, we need to FIRST be our own source. We need to FIRST lean within.
We are starving. All of us. We have all been failed in ways that have left us broken. We have all felt conditionally loved… it’s not our parent’s fault. It is how they were raised. They didn’t know any other way...
But by giving ourselves the love we need, listening to ourselves the way we needed to be listened to and seeing ourselves for who we are, WE can break the cycle. WE can learn to love ourselves and our children differently.
And then, we WILL be FREE.
Freedom is not needing anyone or anything on the outside.
Freedom is feeling trust in our capacity.
Freedom is, above all, FAITH in ourselves.
Raise yourself. Meet your pain. And as we learn to become our own sun, we will set both ourselves, and our children, FREE.
Childhood trauma is the source of all pain.
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