“I Want My Mommy” and Re-Parenting MyselfBy
A couple of weeks ago I was really sick with a terrible virus which lasted for 8 days. Just before I came down with it, I had dental surgery and it took me 3 days to recover from that and it felt like I had been sick “forever”. Have you seen the commercial for cough medicine when the guy is sick in bed and starts calling his wife? He moans “Pam….. Pam….. can you call my mom?” In response, she throws a bottle of NyQuil at him. In the next shot he is shown sleeping like a 200 pound baby. It’s really quite comical and it got me thinking about that expression “I want my Mommy”… That expression (often used in jest) is a popular one for adults who are sick or in pain. Mommy’s are “supposed to be” or typically believed to be a source of comfort. That was not the case for me. Sometimes I don’t have the words to express my frustration with being sick. I wonder if it because I can’t say “I want my Mommy” and even the thought of that sentence just bothers me.
For many years now that phrase “I want my mommy” has been on the tip of my tongue many times, but I never could say it because it was so false. Even thinking “I want my mommy” just because of the popularity of the expression, feels like a lie to me. Wanting “my mommy” was not going to help me any; I already knew that! I want “a mommy” or “I wish I HAD a mommy” may have been closer to the truth, but I didn’t know how to express those thoughts.
Sometimes I feel like I got totally ripped off in the “having a mommy” department.
I remember being sick as a kid. My mother did the “care part” pretty good. She just didn’t do the nurturing part. I wasn’t going to die on her watch but today I realize that when people express “I want my Mommy”, they are craving the comfort and the love part of the mommy/child relationship which I didn’t have. My mother was clinical. She was efficient. But my mother was not warm and nurturing.
A huge part of my healing has been to face what was missing in my childhood and beyond and realize that it was (and still is) okay for me to acknowledge that that there were things missing in the relationship that I had with my parents. That is just the truth about my life. The truth is that because some of those important things were missing in my growing up years there was damage done to me. There were consequences to my emotional growth and it is okay to acknowledge that too.
Validating that I got ripped off in my childhood and acknowledging to myself that I was not taken care of as a child in so many ways that really mattered, set me free to get on with the work ahead of me in recovery. Looking back, I realized that the way I fought NOT to accept the truth about my childhood that was a really big problem for me as an adult. It was in the way of my emotional healing. Once I began to establish what had been missing as far as nurturing and comfort, I was able to start doing those things for myself. I pictured myself as a child feeling scared or alone or being sick and I would comfort myself. I told myself that it was okay for me to feel those feelings of loneliness and abandonment and that from now on I would take care of my needs. By realizing that my pain had never been validated by my parents, I was able to stop wishing for that to happen. When I stopped wishing that “someone else” would validate me and my pain, I was finally free to validate myself and my own pain.
I also became aware of those voices that told me that if I was sick, I was useless. I acknowledged the thoughts that I had that told me I was faking or exaggerating and that I was just being lazy and I told those voices on my own behalf, that they were wrong. I did for me what I longed for my mommy to do for me. I filled in the missing gaps and I was able to move forward with my present day life.
I became my own parent and I went back to those memories that I had stuffed so far down that I thought they were gone, and I did for me what should have been done for me back then. I soothed and validated myself. I call this re-parenting.
When I first started to do this type of self care it was uncomfortable and even emotionally painful. I had to ask myself WHY this was so uncomfortable for me. I became aware that I didn’t actually like myself all that much and that if I was really honest, I didn’t WANT to nurture me. I had to realize that those feelings came from the way that I had been regarded as “unworthy” when I was a kid and that I had just accepted someone else’s disregard and disrespect towards me as the truth about me. I had to be conscious and intentional about self validation and self nurturing in the healing process. It did not come easy. It was something new that I had to learn how to do. Self validating and self nurturing felt conceited and uncomfortable to me; it felt foreign and even wrong.
I learned how to validate, love and nurture myself by practice and persistence. For the first two years or three years of what I call “cementing my new belief system” I wrote 10 minutes every morning on gratitude and self worth. I practiced learning to love myself and taking care of myself by being aware of the self defeating voices and overcoming and correcting them. I was intentional about self talk and self nurturing. I pictured myself hugging and taking care of a little version of myself. I pictured myself loving me.
Today, being responsible for me is much easier. My family took care of me when I was sick a couple of weeks ago, but the validation, self love, permission to BE sick and healthy self talk, I can do for myself now.
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