This post is part of our Cortex Conversations series, a series of blog posts written by our members who have completed our program and want to share reflections on a life lived in the cortex!
It’s been said repeatedly that parenting is one of the hardest jobs that there is (probably even on this blog!) I believe one of the biggest reasons is that parenting is strongly influenced by how much childhood trauma the parents bring into it.* In any other type of job, most of us can figure out a way to function fairly well in our role, and craft our own persona within our particular career. Many careers will never get to the point of pushing all of our most carefully hidden triggers to the degree this happens – all the time – within a family unit.
Something happened recently that hit me in a very sore and tender spot that was not yet healed from my childhood trauma. In this case, it involved one of my children but more particularly for me, it happened to relate to a sense of belonging or acceptance. I know that I have had this unhealed struggle, but I assumed I was “managing” it as well as I could. However, because I had never chosen to fully face it, life has been gracious in repeatedly presenting me with many situations over the course of my adulthood – but especially in my parenting life – to heal this painful part of myself. My default response would usually be to choose to avoid situations I knew would hit this sore point altogether or endure them with a sense of trepidation, not really allowing myself to relax and be fully present, which kept me from being able to cultivate the deeper connections I desired to have.
The recent scenario I mentioned retriggered these old wounds in such a way that I probably spent the better part of two days weeping. (And I’m not a crier typically – I normally look at other people that can cry easily and I think to myself “That’s so healthy – I wish that I could do that!”) And you know what? It WAS so healthy and freeing! All of these emotions that I had been trying to suppress for so long just kind of blew up in my face. Whenever something similar happened in the past, I would always try to white-knuckle it, trying to maintain some sort of control to ensure I would never have to feel those suppressed feelings again. That has been pretty exhausting!
Without going into details, I will say that this situation, which in the past would have been devastating to my sense of self-worth, really kind of broke the dam on all that. I spent a few days just releasing all of these things, and really asking WHY these kinds of experiences had such a power over me…and why I was so fearful of them. I realized that what I was so fearful of had in part come to pass and I was still okay. All my preemptive “walks of shame” as I called them made sense for the part of me that was still a wounded little girl, but that girl didn’t want to carry this baggage anymore.
In the past, I would have had such a different reaction, but I was really proud of myself and the growth I have made because I didn’t let this pull me back into myself for longer than the time I needed to work through it. I was able to surrender to life and let go of the belief that I was responsible for other people’s feelings and reactions. I let go of feeling like someone else’s choices were my responsibility and feeling shamed for ruining something I had no control over. I let go of feeling like not being liked was the end of the world, and surrendered to the knowledge that I am deeply worthy regardless.
Being willing to go into those darker more painful parts of ourselves and accept all of it – being willing to lay it all out on the table and examine it is the key to healing from our childhood trauma and a truly necessary component of awakened parenting.
I really sank into this Reconnect: “Everything that happens is happening FOR me.” I had done this one before but this really cemented it in a new way. This is a much more freeing perspective than feeling like something is happening TO me, and being on the side of victim consciousness (I would deny I ever felt that way, but I would have reactions that were right in line with that kind of thinking and not really know why – but just feel like things were unfair, and a certain degree of bitterness with things not being the way I felt they SHOULD be. Does this resonate with anyone else?)
This scenario that occurred was one of the biggest blessings because it allowed me to examine and explore what was causing this magnitude of an internal reaction and a desire to avoid connection as a way of denying the buried shame within myself. I allowed myself space to grieve the wounds I didn’t know I still had and it brought up some amazing Reconnects that were key for me in moving forward. Having done a good amount of neurological reorganization through the ITC program allowed me to move to this next level where I was really able to acknowledge my issues and heal because I no longer felt threatened by facing them head-on when they arose. Because I have a stable foundation, I’m able to see in action how much further I can shift and much more quickly when a challenging situation arises.
ITC likes to say that you really don’t have to keep acting out these same subconscious programs that are keeping you stuck, and it’s honestly so true. All the work I have done allowed me to have an entirely different mindset and reaction – one that said, “Well, this isn’t working, but what CAN work and how can I make that happen?” Instead of immediately taking a trigger to heart and shutting down, I was able to, without guilt, take the time I needed to process my emotions and then much more quickly shift into a problem-solving mindset. It was incredibly freeing to be able to let go of these things and not continue to feel like a wounded 4, 5, 6, 7, 12-year-old who has been rejected because that’s not what was happening at this moment. It felt like a huge personal level-up. Being at the place to make this leap really changed my perspective on a lot of things and I will say that a lot of the concerns that I’ve had within my family have started to drop away.
One of the gifts of this experience was that it taught me a lot about resistance. Sometimes we hold the idea of what we want so strongly that it’s that result or bust – but I believe the ultimate key to manifesting our desires is to hold them with an open hand and accept what is. You recognize what is happening while simultaneously holding the perspective that everything that is happening along the way is happening FOR you, for your best and highest good to get you to that place. This is a challenging balance to hold, but if we are unable or unwilling to do what’s known in personal growth circles as our “shadow work”, exploring and acknowledging the most unlovely parts of us that are crying out to be heard, it will be even more of a challenge. If you have this festering infection buried deep within, how can you really heal or grow?
Being willing to go into those darker more painful parts of ourselves and accept all of it – being willing to lay it all out on the table and examine it is the key to healing from our childhood trauma and a truly necessary component of awakened parenting. Being able to catch those negative generational messages and not allow them to continue in your family line is one of the most challenging AND most rewarding aspects of the hardest job on earth.
When Dani and Paloma say that our kids come to us as our greatest teachers, that is absolutely true, because few people can provoke our most painful spots more effectively than they can. (Thank you, kids!) I really do believe that they come to bring healing to the world, and first and foremost they are here to do that in their own families if we are open to allow for that. It has really been miraculous to see that the less that I am holding on to my expectations of how I think things should be and the more I am open-handedly accepting what is, the more the “what is” in my own family has been positively shifting without my help.
So when challenges arise, and they will (a lady I consider a mentor of mine calls these “gifts in funny wrapping paper”), what is your perspective? Can you believe that they are happening FOR you and find the lesson that is meant to help you level up? Can you let go of the outcome and just ask what is it that you are supposed to take from this moment and use as a tool for your own growth? If you can, that will start to shift absolutely everything.
*Often people hear that term and they automatically assume it refers to cases of abuse or huge, life-altering events, but this is not necessarily the case. Yes, “childhood trauma” can encompass some pretty horrific things, but it can also encompass things as simple as not being understood or validated, or it could include someone who was born with a hypersensitive nervous system which makes the world feel scarier, and they didn’t yet have the opportunity to learn ways to manage or more importantly calm that down through neurological reorganization. So when we talk about “trauma” it can run the gamut of human experience, but what is most significant is the individual response to that experience.