Lightbulb Moments and A Holistic Clearout
By Sinead C Kavanagh ©, 15th September, 2020
During Lockdown in Ireland I found myself pondering the lack of contact I was experiencing. There’s just myself and my daughter, Aliçia at home. I come from an estranged family and so the family unit as most would know it, is quite small. We have a fRamily unit instead — those friends who come to mean so much and are there through thick and thin that they are the friends who become family, (see https://bit.ly/3bZpIza ). I had thought I was doing okay with the self-isolation, using the time to get jobs done around the house without distraction and spending some time reading, writing and being a bit introspective. At the same time I was mindful that my daughter may not be managing quite as well. She is used to her peer groups, extra-curricular groups and general buzz of life around us, being out and about and having fun, when doing so was the norm. Lockdown proved to be quite a different space for each of us.
With the light of self-awareness shining on these thoughts, I explored why my comfort was as such that the imposition of lockdown was not affecting me overtly and why my daughter’s experience was so different to mine. I realised that growing up in a household where self-reliance was the order of the day, while everyone just took care of themselves, there were no champions or wing(wo)men. I learned from a young age, to do what I needed to do, to mind myself, take care as best I could and not to be any trouble. The reality of the latter aspect was that I do not know what support there would have been for me, were I to have been any trouble. From my recollection, my older brothers had dibs on that moniker and so I doubt there would have been much time or tolerance for any crap out of me.
My daughter’s experience, however, has been greatly different. I have long been aware that I grew up with an almost solitary existence. I never wanted that for her and so I have always endeavoured to ensure she knows I’m right here for her, I have her back and it really doesn’t matter what might go pear-shaped for her in life, I will be right here for her, whatever she needs. Not to the point of stupidity I might add but as a parent, Mum and someone who loves her dearly, I will always fight for her.
As a self-reliant person, I may have been seen by others, to have ‘issues’. You know the kind, always doing for others, nothing is too much trouble, smoothing troubled waters, papering over the cracks and bailing others out of all sorts of situations. Invariably, as a society we say that is a person who has ‘issues’, a ‘want’ or is ‘needy’. Yes, as a child, teenager and even as a young adult, I suppose I may have been seen as ‘needy’ and having a ‘want’. My ‘need’ was to have a sense of place and belonging, to feel I held a space somewhere, with some group, a kinship to others and a place of safety. My ‘want’ was to see the good in others, to accept people where they were and hope they would do the same with me. I ‘wanted’ fairness, care, support, and the promise of acceptance. I could see now, quite clearly that those same ‘issues’ were not actually mine. They were not of my making at least, but somehow in life they had become my property and so therefore my ‘issues’…..within my ownership if you like.
Now how did that happen? Well I will tell you exactly how it happened. I picked up the bags — the bags of crap that belonged to others containing the doings that needed to be done, the troublesome acts there were no trouble, the troubled waters and the cracks. More than that, I didn’t just pick up the bags, I picked up the crap and put it into the bags and then I picked up the bags. Keeping things tidy, minding the appearances, doing for others, smoothing troubled waters, and papering over the cracks, because that’s what I had been taught. Children learn what they live, and I learned how to have a ‘want’, how to be ‘needy’, how to appear to have ‘issues’.
Can you identify with that? Does this story resonate with anybody else?
When you visualise this as your reality, very quickly you realise those bags of crap stink. They really stink and you would not dream of carrying them around in your pocket, never mind through the greater portion of your life. So what did that mean for me and my ‘issues’? Well those well-worn, as in, ‘held-on-to-my-person’, ‘issues’ needed to go. They were not mine. They were not serving me. They needed to be left behind.
The traits that I now own, purposefully and in a cherished way, historically and maybe even now, made or make others uncomfortable. They are an inconvenience for some. You might question why I use that terminology, so let me explain. If you are carrying around other people’s trash that means you know what is in the bags. You know what they have dumped, don’t you?! That makes you quite knowledgeable, in all sorts of ways.
For me, being the person, I am, with my personal values and moral compass, this has meant in the past, I have protected a lot on behalf of others. Poor behaviour, inability to deal with life, with people, situations, jobs — wow as I write, there is so much I have protected for others, over the years. But to what end? Instead of being a ‘cleaner’ and a ‘fixer’ that was valued — think Winston Wolfe (Reservoir Dogs, an old-school movie reference!), I became a seer, someone who knew too much and as a result was distrusted, disliked, put down and made insignificant, scapegoated. How best to keep the holder-of-secrets quiet, than to silence them with shame, remove their importance in that life……
Did I mention this stuff was bouncing around in my head during the Lockdown? By June, my brain is constantly on fire with thoughts, ideas, realisations! It has been literally like trawling through the archives of my mind, rooting out incidents, insults, hurts and pivotal moments. Lifting them off the shelves and depositing them into poop bags for disposal. They have resided in my hard drive memory for waaaaay too long and quite frankly I need the space now. I’ve so much else worthwhile to store in there.
It has never been unusual for me to be introspective or to reflect on what is going on around me, within me, with my thoughts or emotions. I would love to see introspective thought on every school curriculum, as part of the Wellbeing programme. It would allow our kids to grow up learning how to offload the baggage of others, stand in their own light and shine. I am quite happy to do that intensive, emotive work, I think it is healthy and healing. The huge difference now though, is that I am also happy to talk about doing it and my learnings from it. I do not mean in a sordid ‘air-the-dirty-linen-in-public’ kind of way. No, it’s more a case of lifting off the dust covers and finding really ugly furniture that has no place in my home or in my heart.
Almost immediately, once choosing this path, it is no longer odd nor does it feel strange to me, to admit to having had ‘issues’, or a different approach to life, having values that differ to others or looking at the world through my own eyes, with my own perspective rather than the views dictated to me by others throughout my life.
I have always known I cannot be all things to all people. A people pleaser since childhood, I have recognised for some years, I cannot please everyone. Now though, — now, I am no longer trying to be all things, despite knowing I cannot be. It is the definition of madness isn’t it? Repeating the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome. I have stopped and I am proud of myself for that. I now have relearned what I have lived for so long.
So what is the basis of all of these revelations? Is there a singular message? Well I have thought about that and deduce there are two, — awareness and perspective. I could tell you all about those, but best leave them to another time. That is quite enough for now. 😉
#lessonsfromlockdown #theessays #theholisticparent #sineadckavanagh #framily™ #philosophy #familydynamics #learnedbehaviours #learnwhatwelive #livewhatwelearn #peoplepleaser #meitheal #community #support #care #love #learning #personalgrowth #personaldevelopment #childdevelopment #parenting #children #childhood