I know I keep asking these rhetorical questions. However, I do have your saying YES to you in mind when I ask them. I’m sure not everyone experiences everything that I bring up – but when I ask individuals about these things almost to a person I get an answer like, “I’ve been there!” More often than not I get, “Wow! You had that too? I didn’t think someone like you would!” It’s helped me to know that what I think happened only to me because happened to many, many people. I’ll dare say many of the experiences I bring up are really part of experiencing being human.
I was blessed to have a spiritual guide, the late Barbara Van Diest, who took the time to let me think about some of my childhood “less than happy memories” and allowed me to “schmooze and schmooze” (talk on) about what details about the event in question would come up when I gave them time to. Before I go further let me say that many of my memories were happy – and – there were some I thought of as less than happy. Barbara wasn’t a “psychiatrist”, but she could get straight to spirit. I’ve learned that I’ve attached meanings to things that happened, that might not have had the meaning I gave them. I have a feeling you may have done the same. While schmoozing about one happening I remembered a detail that changed my life thereafter. I’d attracted incidents in which I felt abandoned into my life. I’m not saying incidents in which people turned against me, but rather abandoned me for no reason I could decipher.
When I look back at my life I now realize that many of my fears come from things that happened when I was very small. I guess anyone who’s gone for counseling knows what I’m talking about. In a previous article I mentioned my loving dad playing a joke on me that affected me, negatively, for many years. Five-year-old-me didn’t get it was a joke.
I’m sure that many fears that lead us to saying less that a complete “yes” to ourselves, start in our infancy. We’re not aware that our tiny inner child is holding on to things that were done to us as infants – often by people who loved us and thought they were doing the correct thing. This is a little different than joking. I’m talking about loving parents following the “rules” of the day. They’re doing what they’re taught they’re supposed to do.
I was a pre-Spock infant. I got this from Wikipedia. “Before (the famous) Dr. Spock’s book appeared, the most popular guide to raising children was called “Psychological Care of Infant and Child.” The book’s writer, John B. Watson, urged extreme firmness in dealing with children. The book called for a strong structure of rules in families. It warned parents never to kiss, hug or physically comfort their children. After I was six years old, a child psychologist, Dr, Spock, came upon the scene and the scene changed. Benjamin Spock actually told parents they instinctively knew what to do. (When my son was young I couldn’t watch Star Trek without thinking of him. I found out that ”Roddenberry sought an alien-sounding name when he created “Spock”, and did not know until later of Dr. Benjamin Spock, the famous pediatrician and author.”)
I was brought up in the “parents need to be firm” years. Luckily my parents were loving people; but they did try to be as firm as possible in certain areas so that I would grow up properly. They wanted to be good parents. I was supposed to eat at the same time every day and not between meals (except when my mom felt like it, which was several times a day every day! She tried to obey the eating rules, but to no avail. Dr. Watson was obviously not a Jewish boy from Brooklyn.)
My parents were better at keeping a regular bedtime for me. Many nights they’d put me to bed and when I’d start to cry, they’d leave the room and “let me cry it out” as Watson’s teaching specified. I now realize it was probably even harder for them than for me! This brings me to the “moment of despair” I was thinking of when I thought of writing on this topic.
Picture this. I was two years old. My dad hadn’t yet left for his Navy assignment in the South Pacific during WWII. My parents rented a small two-story summerhouse on a lake in Wingdale, New York so I could have a proper countrified vacation. Our three-room apartment in Brooklyn was on one floor. What I’ll tell you next may sound gross to you. However, it is what happened one night. I’d been put to bed at the correct time. I was in a crib and the sides were up. Just as my parents were leaving my room I desperately needed to go to the bathroom and I started to call out to them as they walked away. They said I couldn’t try to get out of bedtime. When they wouldn’t turn around I remember being shocked. I couldn’t climb over the sidebars and out of the crib! I was two! This is just short of 70 years ago and I could be in that room this moment. It’s that clear to me! I couldn’t believe they’d leave me in that state. I screamed and screamed for what seemed like hours. At one point I could hear my dad coming up the stairs and breathed a breath of hope and then my mom shouted, “She has to cry it out! That’s what they say to do!” He went back down. I couldn’t hold it any longer and I went all over the bed. I cried and screamed to no avail.
Finally spirit sent a miracle in the form of my mom’s friend’s younger sister, Stellie, who ran up when she heard a faint scream from my room. I was too weak and feeling to abandoned to keep screaming at that point. Thank God I screamed that scream. She shook her head and told my parents they didn’t need to read the silly parenting books that say you need to be firm. My parents washed me up and let me sleep in their bed for the rest of the night and never made me “cry it out” again. I’d forgotten all about that and I’m thankful the memory was in my brain.
I realize now they were learning. Even though all ended well relating to my original experience, in future years I could still feel like I was being abandoned – when my abandoners were merely not graduates of the best courses in treating a person they loved. Being left alone when I didn’t expect to be was a major sore point for me in my life for many years. It was a major cause for my getting divorced from my son’s father and from breaking up with men. Thankfully the memory of Stellie, coming to my (and my parents) rescue, has changed that for me. Now, I finally understand where my choice for seeming abandonment came from and I won’t choose a person as my life’s mate who has been taught to leave his love out of things – and can’t be taught to act differently.
If you’re younger than I am or, even, my age – think back as far as you can and see if you can come up with a “happening” when you were a tiny child that may have triggered your fear of something being done to you and that led you to attract people that would repeat that happening in one way or another. Then if you ever find yourself in the middle of such a happening you can take a look and see if the person who is treating you wrongly was unknowingly taught how to act in that situation. Then point out that they needn’t treat you that way. There’s another way to look at it. Then, if they don’t want to re-learn their way of dealing with the situation and treat you with love and consideration for your desires – you can choose, without fear, to hug them good by.
Now, when I’m afraid I’m beyond help, I think of that two-year-old’s plight. She (the person that was me that night in 1942) thought the world would never again be safe. I now know that this thought was totally erroneous then and, more important – it’s totally erroneous now!