When I Was a Child...
When I was a child...
How would you finish this sentence?
What comes to mind when you read it, and think about it?
What feelings does it bring up? What memories? For many people, it evokes a blend of, or a few of, the following.
Joy. Sorrow. Wistfulness. A desire to be grown up. Time passing slowly. Carefree, summer days. Ice cream. Pressure. First real friends. Fear. Wanting more freedom. School. Belonging to a group. Not belonging. Sweet moments with family. Unpredictable home life. The haunting sadness and ache of past, often unhealed trauma. Roots. A feeling of invincibility.
Life seemed so long.
So...how would you finish the sentence?
Would your feelings and statements reflect a mix of all, or some of the above?
Do you have few or many memories?
Childhood may feel recent. It may feel like a lifetime ago. It might make you smile to think of it. Or not.
When I led a therapy group, years ago, at a women's drug abuse recovery home, and asked the participants to finish this sentence, it invariably led to tears, for most of them.
For many people, the current experience of pain, and presence of unpleasant or self-destructive symptoms or habits in their lives, can be connected to their childhoods.
For the women in my group, thinking of the past brought up old pain and memories that they generally preferred to forget. Clearly, they weren't able to forget. What we don't face has a tendency to seep out somewhere in our lives.
The world is full of people who are recovering from painful childhood experiences. They're medicating old wounds, fighting old battles, and avoiding what seems too painful to face. We see examples of that every day.
However, it can become too much trouble to continue avoiding these issues.
For most people, childhood was a mix of joyful, neutral, and painful experiences. Such is life. In time, we gain perspective. The past looks different in hindsight.
We develop a sense of affection for our own histories, no matter what they entailed.
Whatever has transpired, I'm still here, and this is my only life, happening now!
Unfinished business. How can we finish it?
Sometimes, if not usually, we must finish it with ourselves, as those who wounded us are no longer in our lives, and may not even be living. They also may not be sorry. We may have to accept the apologies that we have not received. Time dulls the effect that past experiences have on us.
Yet, who we were as children becomes woven into who we are as adults.
We all have narratives, and oftentimes, the versions of those narratives change.
We are each the star of our own show!
Facing what's buried can be incredibly healing, empowering, and freeing.
We go inward, bravely, and dislodge what is stuck. In so doing, we loosen the hold that the past has on us.
We can rewrite our narratives, anytime we want. We can't change what happened to us, but we can change who we let it make us today.
Victim to survivor. Child to adult. Past to present. Trial to triumph. Pain to healing.
Strength. Resilience. Resolve. Perseverance. Growth.
Onward and upward!
Smile. You've made it this far. Nothing is guaranteed. Only that you are sure to cry again, and then, sure to laugh through your tears.
Growth is optional, and it's worth the effort.
Life is made up of moments. They come one at a time. Savor yours.