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Healing the child behind the parent

Apr 08, 2022

This morning in therapy I took a deep dive, head first into some pretty challenging work on myself.

As many will know, I’m transparent in the ways in which I share particular aspects of my life.

Currently, my husband and I are in the process of marital separation. It’s a decision we made based on the unconditional love and consideration, and deep care we have for one another. We want to be happy-he wants that for me and I, for him. We also want our children to have the parents they need and deserve, which means being our best selves in order to provide that.

It’s painful. It’s sad. There is grief and yet there is celebration and joy. 

And, I came to realise this morning that moving forward, this is now the part of my life I have an opportunity to truly lean into the hard parts and the pain of it all.

Our experiences growing up are not the same. His family are nurturing, considerate. His parents have remained married to this day and also have a dose of privilege I was not accustomed to as a child.

My family home was fraught with violence, alcoholism, both unidentified and identified disability and dare I say it? Far more survival than empathy. 

Our experiences of being parented are significantly different, and therefore we parent our own children differently.

This lifetime for me is one of reparenting myself. It is one of both coping and surviving; and offering myself love and compassion in order to soothe and heal all the spaces that were not filled in the ways they could have been.

My husband parents our children from the foundation of security. From the memories, the love and the experiences such as pretending to be asleep in the car at the end of trips as a little boy, to have his father smile and carry him into the house, playing along.

My husband has not sat at the front window of his lounge room as a small child, shaking violently with fear and nausea, waiting for a parent to walk up the drive way at midnight after their release from another drunken and disorderly arrest while his Mother sleeps in her room.

I have. I did. And so much more.

Amongst the terror, the never getting it right, the disapproval and rejection, I know my parents did their best.

They did the best they could as unidentified disabled people. Disabled, masking their way through all the neuronormative societal expectations. Finding a partner, loving them, navigating intimacy and sharing a life. Children. Being responsible for other humans and nurturing them. 

We can not give to our children what we don’t already have.

I am the the outcome of a generation of late teens, young adults at best, encouraged to marry and reproduce in order to fit the model of capitalism, patriarchy, neuronormativity and whiteness brutally forced into them.

Kids having kids. 

There is ample, deep, profound grief in the experience of unconditional yet boundaried love for my family of origin.

In order to reparent myself, I have had to let go.

There is an acceptance from my parents around my letting go; though not an understanding. The capacity to understand and to take responsibility for themselves has been, is, and will continue to be non existent. 

To heal myself, I accept this. Radically and unconditionally.

In this lifetime, there is a love that I need and deserve. And, it is a love that only I can provide myself. 

It is the love required to offer myself forgiveness, compassion and empathy. It is the love required to free myself from the pain of intergenerational trauma.

It is the love I require to see myself in all of my wholeness, in the many parts that grapple with one another.

With my therapist, I sat. Crying. A long and old, deep sadness felt in my heart space. Just sadness. Relief.

I gave all the reasons why I had failed as a parent. I listed my mistakes, my faults and the moments I’d lost myself.

The moments I’d yelled “Ohh for fuck’s sake!” as a parent. The moments I’d been impatient and unkind to my children.

And the many moments of restorative reparations. Sitting with my children, holding them and owning my failings. Telling them everything they mean to me, in all their beauty and light.

Putting in the hard yards, the gut wrenching hard work to be self reflective and self loving and healing the pain of not only myself, but the pain of my ancestors that lives within me.

All so that I can be free.

Free to show up in my wholeness for my children in radical acceptance.

And this is what I am so quick to overlook. That in every moment of self reflection, in every opportunity that I take to do the work, in all the sadness and discomfort I feel, amongst all the tears and in all of my letting go of that which no longer serves me..

I add to the unique architecture of the bridge that lights a gentler path for my children; over and beyond the murky waters I and my ancestors have wades through.

My own freedom leads to the freedom of my children.

We are not failing our children when we struggle, make mistakes or show our most human selves to them. We reflect, restore and repair, recover.

We make amends to ourselves and our children so that the hard work is worth it.

If you are here, reading this, you are on this path.


I love you. I hope you can love you too.



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