When Gaby was born, I plunged into a deep depression. It didn’t match the symptoms of postpartum depression, so I didn’t seek help for it. Partially because I didn’t really trust the ‘experts,’ having previously experienced a year of therapy which didn’t do anything for me, and partially because I felt like I should be able to pull myself out of it on my own.
I did manage to finally pull myself out of it, after 16 months.
For years I couldn’t figure out what that depression had been about. But I realized over time that what it was about was that ‘I’ wanted to feel the way my daughters did! There I had 3 live examples of beings living as though they mattered, with an intact sense of self, with a knowing that their needs would be met, feeling wholeheartedly loved.
And there was a deeply damaged little Eliane in me screaming “What about me?!?”
How was it that they got to live the way they did when I lived with such a deeply ingrained sense of something being intrinsically wrong with me, feeling that I was disgusting even? When I wasn't able to feel love, I walked around with my needs SO unmet, when I was SO longing for all they matter-of-factly had?
And how could I, from my place of emptiness, now fully meet 3 humans needs, all by myself?
At that moment, when Gaby was born, though I didn't know it at the time, started my own ongoing journey of healing.”
This story really struck a chord in Dawn, a mom of 2 living in Germany. The day after our call she posted the following in our program’s wonderful Facebook group:
“So...the call was fun! A totally new experience for me...very interesting... One thing that came up for me was triggered by something Eliane said...the whole 'what about me?' thing...Honestly, I feel such utter RESENTMENT sometimes towards Elijah...this is going to sound very childish but it needs to be said...how come he gets to have all his needs met when no one was there to meet mine? Why does he deserve to feel worthy and welcome from day 1 whilst I'm sitting here doing 'inner work' every single day just to make right 25 years of messed-upness? Why should he have someone to validate his feelings and for his rage and sadness to pass freely through him whilst being supported every step of the way by someone that loves him? Where are all the people to meet my needs? Who's making me feel worthy and welcome? Who's validating my ugly feelings and letting me know it's okay and that I am safe within those feelings? What about me??? I hate to say it, but... (it feels like) IT'S NOT FAIR!!! I guess I want what he has...I know self-love is crucial, that maybe I can almost mother myself back to feeling centered and worthy...but sometimes I'd really like for someone else to love me unconditionally too...to do the loving for me...to bask in love without having to work for it... Anyway, again feeling very grateful that I found this program and for all the wonderful people I'm sharing this journey with. Thank you. :-) “
Your post transcribed my own feelings and frustrations as accurately and clearly as if you’d pulled them directly from my mind (and the mind of every other young parent I know). During a recent conversation I had when feeling exceptionally weary, I described the experience of parenthood as "virtually everything relaxing, rejuvenating and pleasurable about your life becoming irretrievably scattered as your entire existence transitions into one entirely focused upon the preservation of a creature with inexhaustible demands, and only the most minimal, fleeting capacity for gratitude."
At the very least, we can take solace in the realization that so many of us share this experience—the burden of providing perpetual, continuous care while forgoing your own needs and desires. You give until you feel like you’re empty, and then keep giving. You have my gratitude for being courageous enough to share these personal (and somewhat painful) thoughts, and providing an avenue for people like me to gather strength and encouragement.
Here is the one caveat/correction I’d contribute to the conversation: the need for validation—to be cared for, to be supported and encouraged and loved and appreciated by another human—is NOT childish. It is one of the most fundamental and basic human instincts; it is something we innately desire in each and every one of our relationships, and it is nothing to ashamed of. It’s true, in some sense, that the specific manifestation of our needs may be shaped by old wounds and unresolved childhood issues, but to “need”—to require help and care and encouragement—is universal to every individual of every age.
This need is a basic one, but it is not childish. Sometimes, our self-perception becomes so warped (whether through notions of ability and achievement or through strictures of duty and obligation), we imagine those basic needs no longer apply to us. We confuse basic human desires with immaturity, as if somehow we’ve transcended the fundamental characteristics that make us human!
Please believe me when I say that I empathize with every ounce of your frustration and resentment, your doubts and insecurities. But please don’t cling to that undeserved sense of shame. As parents, we have to wade through endless demands and emotional deprivation, but that doesn’t mean dismissing our sense of self, ignoring our own needs and desires. It just means that fulfilling those needs will be tougher—sometimes tougher than we’re prepared for. Thank you, again, for your honesty and authenticity.’ Johnny Snyder
So once I got over being jealous of Haley for being married to such an amazing man (as most women were in the group!) here’s what I responded:
“Okay, I'm finally ready to respond to this. One thing that I want to say, to all of you, is that what's being discussed here I also see as a wonderful opportunity for our healing.
I've been doing inner work and coaching for 16 years now, and one of my big frustrations has been watching people settle for ways of living, relationships and situations that made them unhappy. And even when I would encourage them to do inner work to clear the way to them having what would deeply fulfill them, when I would tell them that they didn't need to suffer in this way, they still wouldn't find the motivation or commitment to do what it took to heal themselves. UNTIL IT STARTED AFFECTING THEIR CHILDREN!
The beauty in this whole situation is that our children trigger our most wounded parts. Because of it we react inappropriately and hurt them to some degree. And THEN we often find the motivation to work on ourselves. What we weren't willing to do just for ourselves we're now willing to do for our children. And in the process of clearing what gets in our way of being the parent we want to be, of having a deeply happy and peaceful family, we heal ourselves. In this way, if we're open to it, our children are the catalysts to healing our own wounded child, so that we may also live from a place of inner freedom, peace and joy, a place of wholeness."
Our jobs are incredibly tough because we’ve committed ourselves to breaking the generational patterns of pain and dysfunction. It’s SO hard yet so needed. And if you’re reading this chances are that you have what it takes to do it and make a massive difference in the world!
Spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson said “Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.”
This is the critical work we’re doing. And what Parenting For Wholeness is dedicated to.
And now there’s another thing I want to address from Johnny’s post:
Our needs DON’T have to go so unmet!
There are resources for you. Parenting doesn’t have to be so hard.
There are 3 things that are needed here, in my opinion.
1. To build the strong parenting foundational skills of getting on the same team with our children and stepping firmly and cleanly into the trusted leader role which they need to thrive and we need to have ease and order in our homes and lives, so that our needs don’t feel so unmet.
2. To do the inner work needed, which is highlighted in your reactions to your children or the places where you’re not able to put in practice the parenting skills and approaches you know.
3. To create for yourself the support you need for your parenting life to be manageable and smooth, which we go into in my programs, as well as identifying our stuff and beliefs which get in our way of being able to create that support in our lives.
My two complementary programs are designed to provide you with the majority of the support you need to have ease in your parenting, create the support you need for yourself and your family and efficiently and effectively start your healing journey directly as it relates to your children and your parenting.
If you want ease and harmony in your family, and want all the members of your family to live from a place of wholeness, check out my Parenting For Wholeness CLEAN PARENTING Program by clicking here. If you’re ready to dedicate 7 weeks to build your clean and effective parenting foundation and are willing to take an honest look at yourself, this program very well might be for you.
Going through this program will not only significantly impact the quality of your family life and relationship with your children, but it will also qualify you to participate in my DEEP HEALING Program, which is all about dealing with our reactions with our children, healing ourselves, and meeting our own needs.
Feel free to email me at Eliane@ParentingForWholeness.com if you have any question, wonder if the program is the right fit for you, or to request a scholarship application if you have no way of coming up with the full tuition for it.
SUGGESTIONS: If you liked this article, you may also enjoy: