My journey of reparenting myself and pursuing the journey of healing the inner child so my children don’t have to be parented by my trauma.
When I was younger, I thought I was alone in this world. I truly felt like an alien. I was what was considered a nerd at school and at home, I never seemed to get my parents’ constant approval. I was what was called mischievous. A rebel, but also an over achiever. I realise now looking back, I wanted the attention of my parents via the mischief but also strived to please them and for them to recognise me via my academic achievements. It worked. I was in an environment at home where my parents were unavailable physically and emotionally at different times of my life and I don’t blame them at all. So when they would show up would be for school prize-givings when I would rake up the trophy table.
My mom and dad are part of a generation of parents that were playing financial catch up and trying to provide for everyone including extended family. This must have been strenuous. I have a much better relationship with my mom now and I know the guilt she felt.
I also don’t remember a single time in my parents’ marriage where it was just us as the nuclear family in our family home, there was always an aunt, uncle or some cousin we were living with or had taken in because they had come by hard times.
As I began my own parenting journey, many of my own childhood triggers began to resurface. I hated being woken up early, but I was an early riser, but also lacked rest. Makes absolutely no sense, right?
My mom would wake us up at the break of dawn even on school holidays because girls don’t sleep until the sun rises up. A girl beckons the sun into the home.
So, I would then practise this when I would have my own family and then I had sons… who would help me beckon the sun into the home… it was a girl’s job. And I got tired.
If my husband woke up earlier than me and beckoned the sun on my behalf, I felt like a complete failure!
What a mess!
This is one example of the many things that would occur as I grew and became a mom and wife.
I also just want to say… the way children will trigger you if you do not consciously reparent yourself is something else. You will find yourself saying the hurtful words that were said to you as a child and then the downward spiral begins again.
And so, the journey to reparent myself began… consciously and subconsciously. I had to create space for myself to accept who I was, not who my parents would be proud of or create the perfect idea of a child in me. Big Olwethu has to nurture little Olwethu again and work out what would make me proud.
It was about me.
Here are realisations I have made and steps I have taken on my reparenting journey:
1. I had/have a very hectic fear of abandonment.
I previously spoke about this is a previous blog post “Do You Know What You Need To Feel Loved?”
I had to dig deep and reflect on my unmet needs and work on my emotional management and communication skills.
2. I felt scared, embarrassed and ashamed at expressing my emotions because I wasn’t sure if somebody would validate them. I felt as though they were cringeworthy, that the next person would hold my words against me and leave me hurt or make me feel guilty for feeling the way I did. I realised that I hadn’t been actively taught to practise self-belief and self-confidence. I hadn’t been consciously raised to be confident in my own emotions.
3. I was a massive hoarder and clung onto things for a long time and would later associate it with the number of times we moved around as children.
I could never make friends or acquaintances that would become lifelong friendships. I would them cling to things instead.
When this realisation hit, I purged! I purged and cried. And let go.
I let go of the hurt that I carried since when my parents lost their marital home.
4. I was a… or rather… I still struggle with perfectionism.
Because… well… I’m still figuring this one out, but it is rooted in control. I didn’t have much of it as a child. And with my struggles with self-confidence, the issues didn’t allow me to internalise mistakes and wallow in failure. I was a straight A student (make that A+) throughout my schooling career.
Sometimes in the journey of reparenting, we make the mistake of thinking that we need to be reparented by those that are/were our original parents. Many of us actually have a dreamy way in which we fantasize of our original parents finishing the job they started and then we resentment towards them because they cannot. They were never able to and they themselves are struggling with having had gaps in being parented themselves.
When you have prepared yourself for this reality, understand the following:
You need to work at giving yourself what you needed as a child.
It is time to start applying yourself to the following exercises:
- Speak positive affirmations to yourself: “I am a good person” “I am deserving of love”
- Speak to and give permission to your adult self in decisions you need to make
- Allow yourself to get lots of rest. Good rest.
- Practice mindfulness in order to remain present
- Think about some of the good memories you had in childhood – journal them
- Start making some new and good memories for yourself and with your children.
This in conjunction with seeing a mental health professional with really aid your reparenting journey.
Here are some Reparenting Affirmations by Pete Walker:
I am so glad you were born.
You are a good person.
I love who you are and am doing my best to always be on your side.
You can come to me whenever you’re feeling hurt or bad.
You do not have to be perfect to get my love and protection.
All of your feelings are okay with me.
I am always glad to see you.
It is okay for you to be angry, and I won’t let you hurt yourself or others when you are.
You can make mistakes – they are your teachers.
You can know what you need and ask for help.
You can have your own preferences and tastes.
You are a delight to my eyes.
You can choose your own values.
You can pick your own friends, and you don’t have to like everyone.
You can sometimes feel confused and ambivalent and not know all the answers.
I am very proud of you.
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