My mum has huge brown eyes that hold lots of kindness and patience in them. She has a ready smile, too. Whenever you speak to her, she’ll look at you with those huge eyes and that warm smile, waiting for you to say whatever it is that you want to say. I used to think she was slow in her thinking, in formulating her thoughts, in speaking out. I used to want her to be more dynamic, more reactive, more angry even.
In later years, I learned that she held back to create a safe space for others to speak and to be themselves. Her traits which used to annoy me (saintly patience, tolerance to the point of madness, refusal to say bad things) were actually the foundations of the safe life that my brothers and I enjoyed.
For human beings all need that safe space, that cave within us that we can retreat to. In our childhood, we rely on our primary carers (often parents and grandparents) to build that cave for us in our environs that we subsequently assimilate into our psyche. And once established in our being, that safe space will always be there.
Sometimes, when life gets a bit turbulent and uncertain for me, my big brother is there to remind me to “go back in the nest”, namely the our parents’ home in Portsmouth. This last week, as I was getting stressed out trying to sort out my mortgage for my flat in London, arrange for the conveyancing and all the headaches of buying a property in England, my brother told me to move back home and “commute from Portsmouth”.
I owe a lot to my family….because as one psychologist said, few people escape childhood unscathed. This is an article about how verbal abuse from parents can engender lifelong anxiety in a person. A child who grew up in an emotionally abusive home can be successful professionally, attractive, accomplished, but without that safe place within you, anxiety will still lurk in the shadows of your self. The challenges of teenage years, coupled with emotional neglect and harshness from a loved one, exacerbates the issue of not being safe and the perception of not being loved, not being enough. Teenagers can be difficult to love, but they need parental love, patience, guidance and tolerance so much. Yes, they need softness when they are at their most difficult to love.
The lifelong symptoms of not getting that support include:
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Chronic pain
- Digestive problems
- Eating disorder
- Suicidal thoughts
I have seen at close quarters how childhood abuse can wreck relationships and lives of seemingly successful people. We could try to create a safe space for a person who does not have one, but without recognition and work on their part, we could end up getting hurt by giving too much of ourselves to someone who thinks they are inherently worthless. I said this to my girl pal who thinks that she meets the wrong partner all the time, without recognising that it is her actions that make all her past partners – even potentially right ones – “wrong”. Or maybe she is attracting those whom she thinks she could save…..
As first premise, a person has to recognise themselves that there is a problem before healing can begin. We always need to start from the first step in any journey. A few years ago, a psychologist told me that a man has to forgive and love his mother and his first girlfriend before he can love another woman again. I thought that was very profound because we can never run away from our past…..we are an amalgamation of the events that shaped us (check out the Family Constellation section on this website).
And as with everything, it starts with the self. Nobody can heal you but yourself. As a student of the spiritualist Thich Nhat Hanh, I strongly believe that gratitude (for what you have in your life) is a good way to start the healing process. Look around you and be grateful for what you have – you have enough in your life today ❤
Photo from Fill up your life with Love
And do watch The Croods with your family….it’s a very hard-warming movie that reminds us all about the warmth and love of a crazy (imperfect) family.