"experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." -randy pausch

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

the risk it took to blossom

and here i thought i wanted the white blossoming trees in my yard.
red berries in the snow.
rich cherry red flowers in the spring.
i had no idea they would bloom so brightly.
they make my eyes dance.
and spoil me every day.
if i'm completely honest with myself i think one faucet of my parenting is governed by my desires to repress.
repress what i'm feeling.
repress what i'm thinking.
repress what my natural instinct is screaming for me to do
{protect them from everything that has ever hurt me}.
which is essentially who i really am.
i don't think anyone would argue that as humans we are a product of our environment.
experiences we've had during our lives shaping us into who we are.
what we've become.
sometimes my 3 year old self will flash back.
flood my heart with fear.
the self that felt unaccepted.
vying for attention.
willing to do anything to fit in.
in high school i actually let one of my friends talk me into telling another friend that she couldn't hang out with us anymore.
even though i really liked her.
she was the most real out of us all.
knew who she was.
and liked it.
but i was too afraid.
she  was of course already getting kicked out.
i didn't think i could be anything without them.
and didn't want to be next.
so i called her on the phone.
and explained that we had all agreed she didn't fit in with us anymore.
i am still so ashamed.
top 10 moments of my life's regrets.
i admire people who tell me they live life without any hindrance of what others think.
sometimes i wonder if they really believe that deep down.
my deepest wounds from childhood and adolescence are so protected that i ferociously guard them more than others.
when they come to the surface my stomach flips,
my breathing is short,
my heart races.
the fear of tasting the pain twice is almost too much to bear.
they don't like me b/c i'm not skinny enough.
not smart enough.
not a fast enough reader.
not quick enough with my tongue.
not good at math.
a bad test taker.
too bossy.
too stubborn.
at what point are the voices in my head wrong?
at what point did my mind sabotage itself?
at EVERY point.
when did it become okay to be my own worst enemy?
what is the gain in that?
i'm not saying self improvement doesn't have it's place.
of course it does.
that's how we become better people!
learning from our experiences.
"experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted."
-randy pausch
i'm saying that at some point in my tiny little young self i believed they were right.
and i believed that everyone else thought the voices were right too.
everything negative anyone had ever said.
or anything negative i had made up in my mind to explain something i didn't understand.
i actually believed in my 3 year old mind that the reason my parents separated and divorced was b/c i was not pretty enough, not skinny enough, and not enough of a dainty little flower for them to stay together.
i also believed that the reason i didn't fit in with my stepfamily was for all of the same reasons, but add on "not smart enough" into the mix.
this of course was absolutely not true and had nothing to do with how my parents and stepfamily actually felt about me.
my parents and step parents did everything they could to boost my self esteem and help me deal positively with the inevitable fall outs of divorce.
i have fantastic parents and a fantastic step family.
i don't even refer to them as my step family.
it feels like an insult to call them that.
they are my family.
like blood.
leave it to a 3 year old to be completely self absorbed and think everything is about them.
even a divorce.
so i didn't want to be myself anymore.
out of fear i repressed all of those wonderful parts of myself.
deep down inside.
and did everything i could to never let them out again.
after 15 years, the pain of keeping all of those feelings repressed,
trying to be someone i was not,
was just too much.
so i slowly showed little bits of them again.
it is terrifying to even be writing about any of these feelings and thoughts right now.
b/c i will never forget how i felt when i made these things up in my mind to explain what my 3 year old self could not.
so when i see my children beginning their life of experiences,
watching them feel pain and hurt.
i battle myself inside.
one shoulder screaming MAKE THEM TOUGH!
teach them everything they need to know to never have any pain!
this one i try to repress.
but this time i think that one is a good one to repress.
b/c what good would i be doing them by keeping them from all pain?
only a disservice.
the other shoulder urging me to be soft.
my children do not need me to teach them to be tough.
they need me to make them feel loved.
the world can make them tough.
i can make them bloom.
it's not my job to make them tough.
it's my job to wet the soil.
sow the seeds.
pull the weeds.
and guide their growth.
there's enough tough when they walk out my door.
here is where i can be soft.
here is where i can wipe their tears.
give them a hug.
make them feel safe.
let them flourish.
yet most of the time i feel like my own storms keep me from really being what they need me to be.
doesn't every parent want their child to not suffer the same pains they've experienced?
but in that,
there is a flaw.
b/c when growing,
it is inevitable that weeds will come up in the same ground that they are growing in.
the weeds will suck the nutrients from soil of the good seeds.
limit how tall they can grow.
they will tangle in the roots.
so why not prevent the weeds from growing?
b/c what they need is not someone to prevent the weeds from growing.
preventing the weeds would only limit the experiences that would help them to grow to be stronger.
what they need is someone to gently pull the weeds,
wet the soil,
pluck the thorns bushes from around.
guide them toward the sun.
and give them the chance to blossom.
b/c how boring is a seed that has not been sown.
so for the past 10 years i've slowly been blossoming.
becoming more beautiful.
more vulnerable.
more honest.
more brave.
in letting myself come back out.
but i think that 3 year old, 3rd grade, middle school, and high school self will always be down in the depths of my soul.
b/c without them,
i wouldn't have been able to blossom into what i'm becoming today.
so her too i must love.
in all of her forms.
despite everything i used to hate.
b/c how can i teach my children to love who they've been if i'm only pointing out all of the weeds they need to hate?
"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
-Anais Nin


Amy said...

Oh my goodness, Emily! That is beautiful! So raw and honest and perfect. So much wisdom. I am so glad you shared. Thank you.

Em said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joan said...

Thanks for sharing that. It seemed uncomfortably familiar.....but worth the risk! :) xoxoxoxoox

Kelly C said...

That was beautiful and very brave!

Alicia said...

So well stated! Isn't it wonderful to be a mother and reflect on things like this (now that we're on the "good" side of all those experiences that we hated). Thanks for sharing!

Sue said...

So much hard-won wisdom here.

Thanks for sharing it, Em.


McVal said...

Wow. Pretty profound!
When we were kids, my parents would argue and one of my younger sisters took it pretty personally. She was #6 out of 7 kids... I'm not sure why she thought they were going to divorce and it was all because of her... We just said, "Yes, Melanie, it is of you..." We were so mean!

Emmy said...

"my children do not need me to teach them to be tough.
they need me to make them feel loved.
the world can make them tough.
i can make them bloom.
it's not my job to make them tough.
it's my job to wet the soil.
sow the seeds.
pull the weeds.
and guide their growth."

That seems like it should be painted or printed on something. Beautiful. And you are right... the desire to protect them can be so strong, but we all have to learn some things the hard way... such a delicate balance.

jen said...

This is probably my favorite thing you've written. Keep that mindset. It won't prevent your parenting mistakes, but it will help you see the lessons for you and for them. I look back at some of the things I did wrong with my older kids, and I never would have known NOT to do them again if I hadn't made them once.
What is that quote from last conference about "What do I need to learn about me from parenting this child?" So much wisdom in that statement.
I'm waving to Rexburg for you. It is BUTT cold up here. Yuck.

Jessie B said...

These are beautiful!

Jen said...

I can see why this is your favorite post. It starts with beautiful pictures and goes into beautiful words.
I think about the same things raising my children...making them "tough" vs. nurturing them.
I'm so glad you've come to terms with your beautiful self :)