Upgrade The Child In You; How to give yourself what you missed out on as child.
We all have emotions attached to our childhood. Nostalgic, happy memories are what we all would like, for ourselves & our own children. For many that isn't the case, so what do you do about those memories that cause us pain? Box them? Talk them through? Let them just be the story you tell yourself ?
Or maybe change the belief & meanings you have held on to some of those more destructive, painful memories.
You can't erase the physical pain you experienced, the jealousy you felt or the emotional neglect you witnessed ,but you can change how that will impact you as an adult & the meaning you have attached to those memories.
I on the face of it, had a happy childhood, but I think thats due to inherently who I am. Facts could tell you differently though, grew up in a Council house with a low income, with a physically disabled sister, alcoholic Dad, experienced childhood trauma & felt emotionally starved at times growing up. So how can I say that it was happy?
The experiences of my life have been just that to me - experiences.
I have always looked for the love & laughter, as they are the emotions I love to feel more of, not the negative soul sucking ones.
I've grown through my experiences, there are some we bear witness to that leave an indelible stamp on us, but I have learnt through the RTT process that I practice that it is possible to change how we feel about those such events.
Grief has been a huge emotional teacher for me. It's taught me firstly about loss & sadness, but also about growth & legacy.
The first experience I had of grief was when my sister died when I was just 6 years old.The grief I experienced then was the pain I saw my parents & Grandparents go through. I think I was too young to process the loss & because my sister was disabled I didn't have the relationship in the normal sibling way. I didn't feel that loss for myself. I witnessed the full force of loss through their eyes, their raw, pounding pain. The shrill,broken sound my nan made when she was given the news of my sister dying is not a sound I have ever forgotten. To me, it will always be the sound of a heart tearing open, ripping out every emotion from her body. The sadness my Mum & Dad felt, the numbness that took over them, the denial of those raw emotions is what I felt. It made me feel sad for them, that I couldn't make them smile again. I remember about a year after she had died wanting to play shop keepers with my mum, she didn't want to engage with my brother & I at times, lost in her own dark sadness. I pressed her on this particular day, she sighed "Oh Ok", but she was still lost in her darkness, going through the motions of just sitting handing me the items in the game, I felt the depth of her pain in that moment, the emptiness of her grief & packed the game away, never asking her again to sit & play with my brother & I.
How that impacted me as an adult, I would say it made very independent, hard at times, I had to be strong, I had to be hard, that was just self preservation, it gave me coping mechanisms that made my mental muscle strong & resilient but I also felt pushed away & that our relationship was fractured because of that. As a child it did leave me feeling rejected, unloved, unwanted pushed away & not good enough.Understanding now that was what the grief process had done to her, stripping her away & taking her away emotionally from my brother & I. I also lost a degree of empathy. If I couldn't feel, or all I could feel was rejection, then I couldn't give that feeling or love to anyone else. Being younger & without explanation I didn't understand the grief process. The hiding away from emotions that my parents couldn't face or handle made me internalise the emotions I felt, & although that was hard as a child, it also became my strength, as I learnt how to deal with things myself.
Older teenage experiences of grief showed me how legacy is made. When my favourite Aunt passed away, the legacy from her daughter, my cousin, to always lead a fulfilled life, a happy life creating many memories is always an inspiration. She has always lived with the love she carried from her Mum & transferred that into a happy life for herself.
She handled her Mum's passing with huge dignity & love, showing me that although grief is raw & tough it can leave an indelible mark that is filled with love & purpose.
Childhood grief has a huge impact on a persons life. No one can forget the funeral of Princess Diana with the young Prince William & Harry walking with her coffin, the whole world felt their forlorn loss & pain & identified with them if they had experienced loss. They have made it their mission to live in a love legacy to their Mother & create a purpose around that. Not taking their grief away but living with it in a way that they can connect with the love they knew she had for them.
To try & replace the experience of grief with happiness is impossible, to live through it & flourish is though. A seed of grief gets planted & from it grows a tree of life. The initial roots being imbedded in sadness, anger, fear , loss, resentment, but then acceptance, focus, love , memory, legacy & happiness is what grows through. The time in which each person gets to each stage is entirely personal, each stage taking time, acceptance & love.
Any childhood experience that leaves its mark into adulthood can be reviewed & made sense of. It's never too late to give yourself the love you missed out on, it's never too late to give yourself credit for achievements that you didn't hear as a child, it's never too late to let go of resentment & fear & give yourself the gift of freedom.
When grief stamped me, it took away love, but I don't hold resentment to that anymore. It made me love my own children a little harder, the hardness I felt growing up certainly has not been passed down to them.
My nan taught me that "Death is as much a part of living as life itself" & she was so very right, as the death of each chapter or stage in your life can be tough & not one we want to face.We can learn to grow from those experiences as well.
That phrase has served me well through many times in my life, a reminder that I'm still here if the other person isn't ,or that I have to live with myself through each stage of life & be the one who lets love in, lets go of resentment, grows & changes, no one else is in my thoughts with me. So it becomes a part of what you accept, what you learn & what you nurture.
A client visited me recently with a childhood story she needed to make sense of. She had gone through a traumatic medical experience & then had an equally traumatic ambulance ride where she couldn't talk, she had carried the fear from those experiences as a child well into her adult life, they had then manifested themselves in physical panic attacks that left her unable to drive more than 10 miles from her home. Once we found where the fear had stemmed from & how it became imbedded in her adult mind,she realised she didn't voice the fear as a child, she didn't have the emotional reasoning of an adult mind that had understanding, meaning she carried the 11 year old fear she felt with her into her 40's. She gave herself the gift of freedom once she let go of that childish fear. Proof indeed that no matter how long a story has been carried, it's meaning can be changed with the right guidance at any time.
Sometimes we attempt to upgrade ourselves without guidance or knowledge, leaving us open to not such great results.
When a girlfriend recently confided in me that she was in £25K of credit card debt, I knew there was a story that needed revisiting. Sure enough, her story was one of childhood lack, well, what she perceived as lack. A bad money story that she had created for herself from never feeling like she quite measured up to her sisters.
The youngest of 3, she was always given their hand me downs, it left her creating a belief that she wasn't as worthy as her sisters, that her parents didn't love her as much as they did them, as they were the ones who always got the new clothes. What my friend had overlooked was the sacrifices her parents had made indulging her & her sisters in their love of horses & allowing them to have their own horse & riding lessons. She as a teen & then adult didn't focus on that, but instead went out of her way to buy the latest, most designer label even when she couldn't afford it, telling herself that because she didn't have it as a child she sure as hell was going to have it as an adult. She tried to buy back the love she felt she didn't get, she tried to buy back the status she felt she didn't have compared to her sisters, she couldn't wait to show off her new purchases, no one guessing she was spiralling further & further into debt. Crunch time came when she could no longer make the payments on her cards, she was faced with the ugly realisation that all she had tried to buy hadn't increased her self esteem at all, she now felt even worse than ever. She confided in her sisters who then showed her she didn't need any of the material things she had bought to feel that they were all equal, a close set of siblings that pulled together to reinforce the new change my friend had now found in herself. They helped her prioritise the debts & get them paid off. The love she felt from her sisters helping her fuelled her to overcome the bad money story she created for herself & ditch the childish meaning she had put on receiving the hand me down clothes, she laughed when I pointed out her love of all things vintage, were they not in fact too "Hand Me downs" from a different generation, she loved that & changed the meaning of all what she had carried for so many years.
To recognise the child in us & where healing needs to be had is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves. To reconcile the fractured parts of you, to make sense of childhood experiences frees us from pain we carry or can change the habits we made based on those fractured feelings.
It's been a huge life lesson for me to go back over old events, look at their meaning & how I made interpretations of childhood events. I have set myself free from old stories, old wounds & no longer carry them into who I am today. There are some events that will always make me wince, I'm not invincible but I'm a whole lot more healed than I ever have been & that feels pretty damn amazing!
To get help in moving away from Painful Childhood stories, habits based on childhood fears please contact;