I haven’t really shared a whole lot about my health with you and that’s because I’m still figuring it out, still trying to get better and still unsure how to write about it. One day, I will share more with you because I think it would be good for me and, who knows, it may help someone. Overall, I think it’s healthy to get your story out into the ethos–it may lead to connections and shared experiences with others you didn’t know could happen. So I will do a post on more of my health experiences later, but lately I’ve thinking about why I have so many health problems as an adult.
I grew up in a white, middle-class family, went to a private school, had food on my plate and was provided great opportunities, yet it was a very challenging childhood, to say the least. I’m thankful that I had a roof over my head and had basic necessities and a lot more to live. On the flip side, being a child of divorce and getting caught in the middle of an ugly separation, one that was drawn out for years and filled with resentments, yelling, custody battles, child support disputes; as well as all the guilt, shame, control and lying that was trickled down to my sister and I–it’s just too much for a young one to handle.
Yet the most challenging thing was: I was raised by a narcissist.
I’m at a point in my life where I’m starting to realize how much I was robbed of a childhood and simultaneously I’m becoming more accepting of that fact. I’ve always known that the way I was raised has given me immense mental, emotional and physical health problems.
The thing about being raised by a narcissist is you can not be a carefree child. You just can’t. There are too many rules and regulations that are demanded of you by a dominating parent. Being a child of a narcissus, I was essentially an extension of my parent’s reflected self, i.e. how he chooses to present himself to the world. You are a pawn in their game of impressing others. Frankly, it is a job. And there are hard repercussions of not upholding that job, of not performing well. It really is something that you have to survive. And how you survive is by being perfect–their idea of perfect. Doing things the “right way” is what got me through it unscathed in a lot of ways. And in many other ways it compromised my well-being. I just didn’t know any better than to abide and please my parent, as children do.
So being an emotionally and socially scarred adult makes it really hard to happily and confidently live your life. Both my sister and I can attest to this. We’ve had such a difficult time dealing with the perfectionism, low self-esteem and the lack of identity that came from our childhoods. For me, it’s taken so long to find who I am, love who I am and allow myself to just be me. I’m still working on these things, but it’s certainly better than it used to be.
Therapy helped. So did yoga. Finding a patient, loving partner helped immensely. The practice of observing oneself and letting go has helped me the most.
That amount of stress on a little body doesn’t do good things to it. I really think that the realization, as an adult, of what happened during my formative years and then the attempting to release those toxic experiences sets off disease and illness that may have been there for years. I am not an expert, but these are things that I believe. I experienced them and have seen what they did to my body and my mind.
You learn to accept those dark childhood memories as an adult and you find ways to hold close to your being, those light-filled moments that without a doubt saved tiny pieces of your young, true self. Pockets of light to rediscover later on in life. You find out you’re a little wing and have the ability to rise above the rain and walk through the clouds.
I’ve come a long way and am so proud of myself. I still have a lot of releasing to do, but I’m here. I survived. I am living the best life I can now and always getting back to where I belong.
My mother met a man who gifted me some of the best moments of my little life as a young girl: summers spent on an island. Those memories have given me many different kinds of emotions that have evolved as I’ve gotten older. They used to make me sad and long for those days again. But now as a 29-year-old woman, I feel so lucky to have had those experiences. They still light up life today and remind me that I had glimmers of a real, unadulterated childhood. More about the place that let this little wing fly here.
Photo by Linda McCartney