I have this cartoon thing, where I draw out dialogue between my parts, Gestalt style. I haven’t done it in a long while, but I’ve been needing to a right lot recently, I’ve just been resistant. But, this morning I sat down to do it. I spilled out words from my teen part, towards my newly forming parenting part. The only trouble is – I’m still learning how to be a parent. I never had a healthy one, and so this is my time to be one to myself, and to be able to be everything that I never had. That is rad but also scary. I want to do it right. I want to parent myself right. I want to say the right things to myself, be the way that is the healthiest with my inner teen, inner kid, to enable them to heal and have their voices heard.
I sat down and wrote out all the qualities I want my parent – me – to have. I then sat down and wrote out all the qualities my parent/s had…it was hilariously, and heartbreakingly, opposite. (See below.) Literally, the lists could not have been more different. I suddenly have a longing to buy and read parenting books, because I realise I HAVE NO IDEA HOW YOU DO IT. But I also realised, when I was swimming in the pool of self-doubting and criticising and coming up with conclusions that I am going to do it wrong, that I am going to damage myself further, that I am going to fuck myself up more, that this must be the fear and worry parents hold too – no matter how much experience they have. I realised that I have heard friends voice these worries, that they are constantly effecting their child, that they could be fucking their kid up and not know, that they could be doing it wrong, and that everything they say and do goes in…but also that they just have to keep going, have to keep winging it and learning and hoping that they are doing okay, and most of all know that they are doing their best.
At the ripe age of 26 and without any children – just my inner child and teen – I am experiencing all these worries that I will one day experience with my own child, and eventually teen, when I have her/him. But for now, I am experiencing it with myself. The most important person right now, in my life. That feels quite amazing and quite profound. I want to do it right, I want to nurture myself and allow for my parts to heal and feel supported. I want my parenting self to be perfect. But who’s speaking here? The Perfectionist…yes, that’s who. The desperate need to do it right and the best it can be done, all. the. time. Well, as my parent friends will tell me, that’s fucking impossible.
I have this teen part of me that is RAGING. That lividly hates anyone in the helping, parental, loving, kinda role. So, bang goes easy fucking therapy. And this morning as I wrote her out, as I let her voice be heard on the page, I realised that I really don’t know how you deal with a teen. Do you let them rip you to shreds, voice all their hatred and their loathing of you, but also their desperate need and their desperate loving? Or do you take a bit and then give stop them or give them shit back or stand up for yourself, even if it means their needs not being met. Or, do you simply witness what they are saying and just let it not effect your love for them. So, for me, allow my teen to voice her rage and voice her hatred, but to know that it is not meant for me, and that my parenting self can be guided by my objective witnessing and compassionate self – a different part altogether…I don’t know! But I think it’s the latter. The trick being that the teen can voice what they need and hate what they want but it doesn’t alter my love for her, my love for my wounded and fucking angry teen.
Getting to know and develop and grow a parenting part of me has been my project this year, and this part has continued to evolve and evolve. The last week, I really feel though that this part is becoming an actual parent. She is being shaped to really be there, like a healthy parent is. I get to have this part of me that can say and be all that I never had. It is heartbreaking that I never had it as a child, but the fact I can give it to myself just how I want it is pretty cool. And it means that one day I’ll be able to give it to my own child too.
All I wanna do is hang out with parents, soak up their style, watch what they do, watch the kids as they be who they are and are unconditionally (or sometimes not) loved and held by their parents. I wanna watch how parents deal with tantrums, watch how they deal with the stress of never knowing whether they’re doing it right, watch how they comfort and reassure and softly tell their kid everything is going to be alright, so I know how to do it to myself. But the truth is, somewhere inside I already know. I know what I need and I know what I used to long for, and I know that I can give that to me.