My Precious Child

There has been an inner storm brewing, I think, for quite a while now. Slow building insights, tiny little gut punches. I’ve sort of pocketed it all away. Watched the gray clouds pass overhead, waiting for meaning to make itself. I think that time came; something clicked into place today as one of my therapists mentioned not talking to my baby the way I talk to myself. She said, the joy and light would certainly just be drained out of her.

She is pure joy and light. Yes, yes, she is in spooky “boy” clothes.

And, then it hit me… just how awful it is that the big people in my life must have been able to see that joy going out of me and didn’t do anything to course correct. They kept belittling, silencing, abusing and taking shit out on me to the point where I learned to be a punching bag… to just take it. Learned that my worth was in quietly showing up, making them look good, and then fading back into the background. I learned that children don’t get to have feelings and needs, that we existed to please the big people, to take care of their needs. I learned that we don’t speak, don’t have a voice. And that other people must know you better than you know yourself.

I don’t remember much of my childhood, just a few incidents here and there. Disjointed phrases in my parents voices. A “you’re such a spoiled brat” here and a “you were never supposed to be born” there. Odds and ends of felt sense that has no identifiable meaning. But I’ve been told that when I was a baby, I was much like Carys. Happy, joyful, social, remarkably smart, and gradually that changed. I became sullen, withdrawn, shy. I became the version of myself that I remember and know now. The pained, self-depricating version. The never good enough. The worthless.

It wasn’t that way for all of us; I’m not sure why it was for me. Maybe my parents were just tired, done raising children as my mom once said. Or, maybe my sensitivity was just too much. I was a difficult child. My sister was the golden child. Nothing she did was ever wrong. She was adored, treasured. Patrick had things rough, too. He received the brunt of my father’s wrath. I remember fearing, on many occasions, that my father might kill him. Somehow he survived. Perhaps our family also taught us resilience. George was another family treasure. He was sweet, innocent, someone to be protected. His differences, having ASD, somehow made him the star in my mom’s show. He was a cause she could fight for. As for me, I was largely invisible, which had its advantages and disadvantages. When I did something wrong I got to share the wrath with my brother. When I did something well… well, it wasn’t ever good enough. I was left to my own devices, raising myself, getting myself into trouble. When the big people who were tasked with protecting you fall down on that job it leaves you open, vulnerable to the whims of other big people. Ones filled with desire and malice and needs. And, when you feel invisible and worthless, being a conduit for those big people to gain pleasure feels like the only way to be seen.

Except that kind of being known never felt good. It felt wrong and dirty. So, I kept seeking. I have been fighting my whole life to be good enough. I thought if I could do the things, then I’d matter. I could read and write my entire name when I was two. I was reading small chapter books when I started pre-k at 4. I was on select teams for softball. I made honors band and honors choir. I taught myself to play at least half a dozen instruments. I won all the damn beauty pageants and I hated them. I set out to master meditation and yoga. I learned art and photography. I taught myself how to code, build websites; how to edit videos and make podcasts. Got degree after degree. I haven’t encountered anything I haven’t been able to do and none of it is worth anything. I’m endlessly searching for that thing that’s going to make me feel like I matter. This whole time I’ve been that little girl, desperately trying to be seen and loved and not just used.

Until now it’s been okay, painful but acceptable, to be stuck in this place of self-loathing, of never enough. It’s been okay that I took on the shame and anger and fear and unhappiness from all the big people and carried it with me, destroying myself. It’s been okay because I’m strong. I can take it. I learned how to leave my body, let my body be a tool or an instrument that the big people got to use and play. I learned how to take their big feelings and carve them out on my body so that I could survive. And none of it mattered.

Except now… now I have this tiny, precious, joyful, amazing human. And she calls me mama. She looks to me for safety and protection and nurturing. It has come easy to step up and do those things. I thought that was enough. But now I wonder, what am I modeling for her in not finding worth in myself? It breaks my heart to think of anything dimming the light of this sweet baby. Even more so, to think that how I live and refuse to love myself could hurt her in some way. I want to be better for her. I want to learn how to model self-love for her. I have no freaking clue where to start. What kind of strange alchemy it will take to turn my self-loathing into something akin to self-love but I want to find it.

Right now, Carys is the only Sun that exists in this system. Her light shines brightly. It’s truly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced. She is radiant. I hope she continues to shine, to know that she is magic and hope and perfection (just as she is because she is, because she exists). And, I hope, that maybe some day… I’ll learn to reclaim a little bit of my own light, too. That maybe some of the dark clouds can move aside and let me find my own shine… if it still exists.

7 thoughts on “My Precious Child

  1. It is hard to give love if you don’t have much inside for yourself. That is to say, it can suck the life out of you instead of replenishing you. It may be that the best you can do for your child is to find the value in yourself. She will come to see it. She has time yet. So do you. Good luck, KD.

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  2. Your shine still exists. Once you realize those projected lies for what they are, you will see it again. Being a parent isn’t easy but when you become one you are allowed to do differently. I did, however, not loving myself reflected in all I did. I put my child on a pedestal. Do as I say not as I do comes to mind as I ingrained self-worth into my daughter yet not having any myself shown through more than my words. The takeaway, start now. Start finding your worth because you are worthy. You are a gift. I am lucky to have finally arrived at self-love but had it not been for my daughter’s father, she may have been in the same boat.

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    1. Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey! I’m sure it is going to be an everyday, up hill battle. I’ve been living in this well of darkness for 30+ years… it’s a long time.

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      1. It will be but it is for a great cause; you and your daughter’s relationship with herself. I too lived in the darkness, for the better half of 40 years. If I can do it, you can too!! You have much to be grateful for. Yourself included. ❤️

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  3. Your daughter is absolutely gorgeous. Becoming a mum changed me so much. The dark is still there but there is also so much light. I think one of the hardest is things is realising you’d walk over hot coals and do anything to protect your child and yet the same wasn’t extended to us. We were every bit as deserving as our children but our caregivers failed us. It’s hard. The biggest gift you can give yourself and your daughter is the work you’ve already done and continue to do – breaking the cycle. X

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    1. Thank you! Such a painful realization that the same wasn’t extended to us. It’s definitely an ongoing process, trying to be better for her. I don’t want her to have the huge responsibility of being the one to break generational traumas.

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  4. This post, while telling a story bathed in sadness, reflects so much achievement. You’re self awareness is magnificent, your love for your child radiates off the screen and your hope for a better future is inspirational. You will continue to be an amazing mother because you love that little angel enough to want to heal yourself for her. I didn’t start admitting that I could learn and grow from my battles until my kids were already losing their lights. I regret that, I wish I’d reflected earlier instead of wallowing in denial, but better late than never I suppose, things are so much better now, for all of us. While the scars may not disappear, they can fade.
    ((Hugs))

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