It’s Never Too Late to Heal an Empty Childhood

Excerpt reposted from Real Love: Learning To Love Another Person on Their Own Terms
by Linda Marks, MSM

“As young children develop, one of their needs from the adults around them is to be mirrored—to be seen, received, heard and responded to precisely for who they are. One could say a good parent is a bit of a geisha to their child. This is all done within the context of good limit setting and appropriate boundaries. One can distinguish between a condition of emotional vulnerability which requires nurturance and a power struggle scenario requiring a different quality of response.

If a little boy asks for mommy to give him four toothpicks, and mommy beneficently gets out the toothpick box and gives him four, the child’s heart is validated and nourished. If mommy gets into a scarcity mentality of “Don’t waste the toothpicks, one is enough,” challenges “What do you need them for?” or axes the project all together, the child feels an emptiness in his heart.

We may not know what the toothpicks mean to the child; however, what can be clear is that they do have meaning to the child. Mirroring takes many forms. If a child makes up funny words and we repeat them back verbatim, the child may chortle and laugh with delight. If a child has a sad face, and we ask, “Are you sad?” the child feels emotionally attended to. If we touch the child gently, both in a way and in a place they want to be touched, they feel seen and received.”

My thoughts:
The above [underscored] is exactly what was said to me as I moved through childhood, no doubt because of my mother and father’s early childhood during the Great Depression. They were 6 and 7 years old, respectively. What a terrible time to learn about life.  My mother went in one direction (negative) and my father in another (positive), although he didn’t really do that until much later in life.

My father was into lack while he was married to my mother. He’s gotten over it and is happily married to a highly creative “possibilities woman” with plenty of money for necessities and extras. He was 80 years old at the time he married her, and has had several years of enjoying a different lifestyle and outlook.

What I remember most about my childhood was a feeling of lack, of frustration, of “glass half empty” instead of “glass half full.” My parents were not “possibility thinkers.” There was always a reason why NOT to do something, or work toward something.

Possibility Thinking is crucial to success in life. They saw insurmountable obstacles instead of normal challenges to learn from, while having fun, being creative and achieving success and fulfillment.

I’d like to be a possibility thinker, always thinking of how things could be, but there are endless tapes running in my head discounting my positive thinking. I’m still working on it. It may be a lifelong challenge, but I’d like to think I can leave those endless tapes behind. In the past several months, I know I have let go of several. The work is ongoing, and it gets easier with practice.

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