Healing dimensions: Part VI

by tamarjacobson

Quote of the day:

I don't why it is we are in such a hurry to get up when we fall down. You might think we would lie there and rest awhile. Max Forrester Eastman

There are two different dimensions that help me understand my early childhood in two equally important ways. One is cognitive and rational, realizing what the adults caring for me were going through at the time. In that way I become aware that their behaviors were not personal in the sense that they intentionally meant to neglect me emotionally. It is an understanding that develops over time supported by life experience and knowledge of the human condition in general. It is also a type of forgiveness that develops only after I am able to process the first aspect. This one is emotional, derived from the earliest emotional memories in my brain and requires that I learn to allow myself to validate my feelings. That is to say, validate how I felt as a young child experiencing emotional neglect within my brain, body and soul. The former cannot be authentically achieved unless I am able to validate how it felt as a child. At least, that is how I see it working for me. 

My mother's life was chaotic and filled with anxiety when I was born. She was heading into her third marriage, and I understand that I arrived at a bad time for me – and certainly for her. Her mind was preoccupied with a new, unpredictable stage in her life. She was clearly emotionally overwhelmed. Partly because of the effect of her own early childhood experiences, and partly because of the facts on the ground: making a life with a new life partner, wanting to please him, and having his child late in her life. She was an intelligent woman, who loved children in general, and probably loved me too. She certainly provided me with basic physical needs, shelter, clothes, food etc. However, she was unable to give me what I needed emotionally: Attention, acknowledgement, and a sense of worthiness. 

My older siblings were just that – older – and leaving the house to find their ways out in the world. I remained behind, feeling like an unwanted appendage to a small family unit: my mother, her husband, and their new baby, who seemed like a miracle child to everyone. And so, my experience growing up was of great and deep loneliness, accompanied by longing and yearning to be someone's – anyone's priority. 

These past few months, therapy has brought me face to face with those early childhood emotional memories. It has been excruciatingly painful to understand where my deepest feelings of loneliness spring from. Alone in my study, or during the long commute back and forth from work, I have wept and raged as I remember how it felt during those early years. And somehow I see that the more I allow myself to shed years of emotional repression and validate my feelings from back then, the more I find it easier to forgive my mother for the pain the emotional neglect caused me.

Indeed, I am also starting to feel less lonely, and even more worthy! It is strange and new for me. Exciting as well as peaceful. It almost seems as if new doors are opening within me. At times, I become frustrated that I understand all this so late in life, and so naturally it brings up feelings of regret. But these pass swiftly in light of what lies before me right now. A sense of personal power and, finally at the ripe old age of 63, the ability to discern what I want and need.

Eight years ago at Tamarika: Waiting for a bus