My inner parent didn’t used to exist. Then, once she did… she was mean.
Everything was about judgement and punishment.
It showed up in many forms:
-Scolding myself for “bad” behavior, and always trying to whip myself into shape.
-Never allowing me to just be me, full expressed and unapologetic.
-Pretending to be someone I’m not, to get people to like and/or keep me.
For the last few years, I’ve been working pretty intensively with a therapist who specializes in love addiction. Essentially, this means the complete off-loading of the job of loving and validating yourself, onto another person (or persons). It can happen with friends and romantic partners alike, so it’s not necessarily based in attraction. However, the magnetic pull that gets created between you and them can feel that way. In actuality, it is a desperate pull towards feeling whole.
That pull is caused by not feeling whole on your own, due to the deficit of self-love/respect/validation.
No parent is perfect, and some of them unwittingly cause chasms in their kid’s sense of being loved. At some point, though, we need to stop blaming them and start learning how to assume the role ourselves.
Spoiler alert: it’s fucking hard.
Hard to love yourself despite your many flaws.
Hard to build good habits instead of giving up when it doesn’t happen quickly.
Hard to reach for compassion and forgiveness the one-millionth time you repeat the same pattern.
But after a few years of directly working on it, I notice that there is a new voice in my head.
She’s kind and gentle. She’s whip smart and logical. She’s comforting and challenging in the same breath.
When I’m self-hating and/or catastrophizing, she says things like “come on, that’s not entirely true.” Or “that’s a bit dramatic, no?”
She’s always right. She also isn’t insistent upon being right. There is plenty of room for me to keep being exactly where I am.
She reminds me to talk to someone about the things I’m trying to handle alone in my head. “Let’s put a pin in that for now, you’re not gonna figure that out on your own. Breathe.”
She’s a pretty great mom.
I have worked, and continue to work really hard on cultivating my relationship with her.
Self-discipline is not about taking away part of yourself, it’s just about adding a new team member.
I’m still a knucklehead a lot of the time. I have a panel of self-sabotage buttons and I still let my finger slip and hit one just for shits and giggles.
But when I do, she’s there.
Her: “Oh you’re gonna hit that button today, huh?”
Me: “Yep, I am!”
Her: “Haha… okay cool. I’ll be here.”
Me: *reconsiders button pushing, as it does not feel fun when it’s okay*
Our relationship grows stronger every day, and my life becomes brighter as a result. I’m more able to enjoy everything that I’ve created. Especially my daughter. I get to make it easier for her to love herself, even though the world is going to take bites out of her, and she will inevitably have her own work to do. I get to be this voice for her now, both loving and challenging, because I am doing it for myself.
Today, I honor myself as a mother to myself.