Friday, August 30, 2019

Being Seen and Not Heard

I'm 44 years old this year. The times in which I grew up, seem so different, from those that my kids are growing up in. Of course there are similarities. I mean we are on the same planet, in the same country, subject to some of the same societal expectations.

I don't need to say much about the major impact technology has had on the way of life over this last decade. I mean, wow, that's just big and not what I mean to focus on presently.

With age comes wisdom? I don't know if that is true for everyone. I do believe there are times in life in which most people, experience inner upheaval. Those times in which your previous ways of seeing the world, and especially seeing yourself, turn upside down. I would wager this happens for a huge population of women as they near 40. And it doesn't end there, it's really only the beginning of a rebirth that happens over many years. There are several spiritual and archetypal theories and traditions based on these very transitions. Most of which ring very true and speak deeply to me.

Being the age I am, I'd say I've been going through this portal for about 6 years now. Realizations, transformations, wounds resurfacing to be properly held up and healed, and deeper clarity on what gifts might live inside of me, and what I am meant to do with them.

No longer feeling regret for what was or might have been. Forgiving the maiden, knowing she did the best she could with what she had. I wish I could've saved her from some of those experiences, but that was not meant to be. Those experiences are part of my human experience.

This is all an ebb and flow of course. Times in which I am really trudging through it, and others when I'm "busy" doing life.

Relationships have changed, boundaries have been realized, triggers have surfaced that I never saw for what they were, and mine and my husband's relationship and parenting has been shifting.

Something I'm seeing with new clarity right now is the impact of that old adage that kids are to be seen and not heard. I've mentioned it in previous posts. I've always known that having been brought up in middle of that mentality hindered my ability to communicate my feelings well. But really, so much more than that challenge is imbued to the child that is silenced.

The constant need to people please

The inability to feel and process your emotions,as they must be stifled in order to stay silent

The physiological aspects of holding (while you are holding your tongue you are also holding your body taught. You become a container with an airtight lid)

No real understanding of the importance of holding personal boundaries

Feeling misunderstood

Feeling like any type of negative emotion is wrong or bad

Feeling responsible for other's emotions and happiness (by not burdening them with your own thoughts, ideas and especially feelings, you spare them the discomfort of having to talk about them or hold space for you)

These are only the few that come to the top of my head. The ones that have become apparent to me. There are more, as we are all different. We all internalize that rejection and pain of being unheard in personal ways.

I've come to realize, there are ways in which we tell our children that we don't want to hear them, without even being aware of what we are doing.

A couple of things I've caught myself, or my husband doing, in our attempts to make them "feel better" or "be respectful"...

If one of the boys is hurting, us telling them "don't be sad" or "It'll be ok, don't be bummed".

Of course it's our attempt to MAKE them feel better. It's uncomfortable for us to see them in pain and we want it to stop, to make them feel happy. So we tell them to stop feeling the things that are natural for them to feel, to only feel good, instead of allowing a little time and space for the not so pleasant emotions. That doesn't work, and only makes them feel like they can't share those hard feelings.

Telling the boys "don't talk back when I'm talking to you".

I get that there is a line here. At least I believe there to be. Kids, just like adults, need to learn to listen without just spending the time that someone else is talking coming up with their own responses. Tone of voice and intention play a huge part, I think. Discussion is good. Kids being able to disagree with their parents in a constructive conversation, is healthy. Where is the line between talking and talking back? Between talking with them and talking AT them. Working on that one....

I've learned that allowing the emotions is necessary. And it is still really hard for me. AND that allowing them, doesn't mean you have to live in them. Feelings are temporary. They are meant to come and go. To help us process. Yes, sometimes people get stuck in certain emotions for longer than is healthy. I think that is a fear, that if your child is sad, they will become depressed. Or is that just me? There are lots of resources and people that can help if things seem like they aren't moving forward. I believe knowing what and who those resources are is so important. If intervention is needed, do it.

It has taken my lifetime so far to become okay with allowing and expressing negative emotion, unhappiness, or feeling empowered enough to speak up if I feel my boundaries are being crossed, to those closest to me. Some of those closest to me are the ones that didn't want to hear it before, therefore the ones that I feel most vulnerable with. The ones I am most worried about causing pain, or making angry. I've never had a problem firing up (at all :)), showing dislike, or standing up for others, or for things I believe in. I didn't feel vulnerable in those situations. I felt like a protector, a leader, or an antagonist. It's in situations in which I need to truly reveal my pain, or my fear, ESPECIALLY my needs or desires (to which there is a deeply held belief that I am not worthy), in which I feel so afraid of opening up. Of being heard. Of speaking when not being spoken to. Of being shushed, or told to be quiet.

These are hurdles I hope to save my children from. God knows, I will not, as much as I try, do this parenting thing all right all the time. My husband and I will make mistakes, and cause pain. There may be things that my kids take from childhood that need to be healed later in life. As much as I hate that. I am realistic. I hope that feeling heard, empowered to speak their truth, to feel their feelings and to hold their own boundaries securely and with grace, is not one of those things on the list for the therapist.

I am in no way, shape or form an expert. I am not a therapist, or a parenting coach. I am not a guru, or even anywhere close. What I am is a truth teller. It's what I do. I share my truth, the good and not pretty with you. The stuff of my human experience. You might read this and think I'm talking out of my ass, or you might read it and feel some relief at knowing you aren't alone.  I lay this stuff out there for you to say this..." Guys, we are all in this together." We all make mistakes. Most of us are trying really hard and want to be kind and conscientious humans. We want what is best for our families. We want the world to be a place for future generations to grow and thrive, live and love. Being human isn't easy.

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