An invitation to get curious.
Tom Robbins says, “It's never too late to have a happy childhood.”
As a preface to this story/post, I am offering this as an aide for others to pull from in an effort to help if it can. I am not bashing or judging anyone, mostly because I have no real context for the specific situation I am citing, I was six. I would also be a liar to say I have never harmed another with my words or actions. I just want to be real, clear, and responsible with my personal account in this share and the way it may affect someone else.
It is interesting how our programming from old wounds often works against us as adults.
I remember being a young girl and hearing my dad and stepmom arguing. It was a heated interaction and my father has never been one to be crossed. After things went quiet I emerged from my room. I was met with a calm, normal behavior from my dad and was told to get my shoes on, that he and I were leaving for a bit. As I walked past the garage behind him, I saw my mom puffy faced and crying. As a compassionate little child, I went to love on and embrace her. To ask “What’s the matter"?”. My father spun on his heels and screamed at her not to interact with me, it seemed to be an additional punishment for whatever infraction he believed she committed. I jumped, scared that I caused further damage and quickly withdrew myself from her.
People argue and fight, neither of them may even remember this, but I do.
I carried with me, from that quick and hostile interaction, the notion that my compassion caused her more pain and suffering, for a few decades. I felt that I caused her even more of an assault. I believed I brought her more pain just through my love and concern for her.
Through the work I have done, therapy, coaching, introspection, meditation, etc. I invited myself to go back to some of these experiences and memories and challenge myself to see if I could rewrite some of my trauma. There are a million things we remember, recall, know to be a truth for us. There are then, also, a million opportunities to grow and learn. When I thought back to this moment I felt pain, I felt guilt, and I saw an invitation to dig in and get curious. Again, out of context, this could have been a blink in time that carried no weight, that people experience all the time, but I remembered it with negative emotion 30 plus years later.
Invitation: How can I stop carrying this weight? Get to work.
By going back to this time, step by step, I recalled the details. I saw a situation that actually had nothing to do with me. I thought about how small I was and how much compassion I led with. My heart allowed me to have concern for her regardless of the cause of her pain and sadness. How on Earth could I harbor negativity for being that way, loving by leading with that heart? She certainly never felt that way, she never blamed me. She only attempted to reach out to me to console me, to assure me, to protect me.
I decided to rewrite the story and to leave it in this new light. This painful memory showed me my heart, a reminder of my innocence and love for others. It showed me that even through adversity she wanted to love and protect me too. I, as an inexperienced wee one, saw someone in pain and had the urge to console them. In return, I was greeted with loving eyes, assuring me that they were okay and appreciative of my concern.
How beautiful is that exchange compared to the one above, with just this slightest shift? How could I ever see it any other way? How could I let it program me to believe that my care for another could cause them pain?
Again, the programming. The messages we received as littles (or in any experience from our past) may not be exactly how it was but it was none-the-less what we received. Do not invalidate, or let anyone else for that matter, what your experience was. We all have baggage, experiences that influence us in different ways. Not all of it is good but the beauty is that we can go back and find a way to soothe it within our souls. It doesn’t take away the reality but it can ease some of the pain we associate with it.
Some trauma cannot be re-written and I would never make light of that. Loss, assault, trauma so horrific and unbearable, that somehow doesn’t kill us, often have no other way to be remembered than as awful as they were.
Hardship, though, often teaches us about overcoming and resiliency. Two things that we can carry forward and utilize as a foundation for other hard times in life. I cannot undo the damage that broke me, but I can pull from my ability to keep going when I face other impasses. Things that feel hard are bound to come. We will suffer, so why not put down some of the weight that doesn’t belong to us? Free yourself from some of the pain because we were not put here just to suffer, and then move forward with confidence in how far you have come.
Anything that can be programmed can also be reprogrammed if you are willing to do the work. I think about it like a computer and how in order to install a newer version of a program, sometimes we have to remove the old one first. But then, we can’t just send it to the wastebasket, we have to also go into that space and clear it completely from our system. Only then can we begin to load the new information. It requires a desire for change, a curiosity that does not relent, a diligence in doing the work, being really, really honest, making shifts that often feel too hard, showing up for ourselves, and taking responsibility.
It requires you to have your own back, to be your own anchor. You’ve got you!
PS. As always if I can help in any way, whether you need a small push or massive shift, I am here for you, I have got you too! Click here for more info!