Parent Child Relationships in RecoveryBy
With my Children ~ THEN and NOW
“If we are going to raise happy emotionally healthy, self reliant children with high self esteem and independence, who know their own value and the real definition of LOVE ~ then we have to be an example of those things and we have to know it for ourselves too”. ~ Darlene Ouimet
I used to feel a huge panic about the time it was taking to go through the process of recovery; like every moment that I struggled was going to damage my kids. On top of that I thought that every moment that I took to figure myself out was taking away from the time I needed to take care of all their needs. Mixed in with that was the thought that the depression and other mental health related struggles “should” just “go away” because I believed that depression was selfish too. All of those beliefs, all at the same time, adds up to what I call “the spin” and it is a huge waste of time. Time that I learned I could spend on my recovery!
In some ways it is a good thing that I was desperate for some help and I was pretty much forced to deal with life as it was. There are two ways to look at everything, and looking back I see that there was a major upside to my having such a huge breakdown followed by recovery resulting in major changes; my kids also got to witness me dealing with life. They got to see me FACE depression, tackle it and overcome it. They know now that it is possible that when life gets too hard, it isn’t hopeless. I was the example that they watched, and they watched me overcome. This makes sense to me now when I watch the way that they face the things that come up in their own lives verses the ways that they dealt with things in the past. The past was the way that my husband and I taught them to handle it. (and most of our examples were “just don’t handle it!”)
In facing my depression and where it came from, I faced my parents too. I told my mother that she could not treat me like “nothing” any more. And eventually, my mother did what she always did ~ she didn’t bother with me anymore, but my kids got to see that I was stronger than the abusers. My kids learned that they don’t have to be treated like “nothing” they can say “no, I don’t think so” ~ and just like me they said it first to themselves and then to others. In facing my depressions and dissociative issues, I stood up and declared that I was worth it; I stood up and declared my value, when up until that point my kids had witnessed their entire lives that my value was mostly in what I could do for them, how I could serve my family and my husband’s family. I thought that by putting my needs on the back burner, that I was modeling something GOOD for them. Did I want them to grow up thinking that a “good person” puts their own needs aside in favour of taking care of others, or did I want to be an example of independence, competence and individuality? Was I raising door mats or strong individuals with high self esteem? I hadn’t thought about it that way before.
In the old days, I modeled subservience to my children. I lived as though my only value was to serve others, to cook, clean and take care of everyone else. I was exhausted and believed that I was lazy. My husband (and I) have a big cattle and haying/grain operation. I was just his back up program though. I did the things he didn’t have time for, and I made sure that he and all the hired men were fed and taken care of every day. I didn’t have any life as an individual. I was just a wife and mother and I was dying. Instead of seeing that my life was way out of balance, I thought I was lazy, incompetent and selfish because I secretly wanted something else ~ something more.
Looking back I am not sure why I thought that I was going to raise happy self reliant children who took care of themselves, when I didn’t model that for them. That was part of the fog that I was in. My husband and I were still emotional slaves to our own parents, and I was really just a servant in my marriage and in our home. I just didn’t see the truth of it then.
No longer in that fog, I believe that everyone has equal value and I model that to my children. My children know that no matter what anyone says or how anyone acts towards them, THEY have equal value to every other human being and I live like I believe that I have equal value.
Love is not sacrificing oneself for others. Love is taking the very best care of me so that I can take the very best care of them and model real self esteem for them. it is never too late for parent child relationship recovery! My wishes for my 3 children make much more sense to me now that I pursue the same things for myself.
I welcome you to share your thoughts or your struggles and fears.
Exposing truth one snapshot at a time!
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