Wednesday, January 8, 2014
The Woman and The Child: Which Am I?
I'm a woman when I'm able to trust myself and my ability to handle whatever comes my way.
I'm a child when I feel frightened and small and threatened.
And only recently have I become really aware that I can control which "me" arrives to face whatever situation has arisen.
This past week, for example, I've been cranky. The holidays have been long and, since I work from home (a generally silent home), I've been getting little done. I missed working. I missed quiet. I missed my own company, which felt drowned out by my husband's larger-than-life personality.
I resented him and began counting the days before he would return to work.
But in the process of recognizing that I was looking forward to him NOT being here 24/7 was the recognition that he might feel the same way. And that is terrifying. It's one thing for me to admit that I've had enough of him…but quite another to acknowledge that maybe, sometimes, he's had enough of me. My "child" is triggered, fearful and anxious. Abandonment seems imminent.
In the past, I might have been aware on some level that my fears around abandonment loom large. I've long known that I hate being left…I far prefer to do the leaving, even for something as innocuous as a trip to see a friend.
This time, however, I understood on a deeper level just how much my "child" distorts my thinking. Something as normal as a husband getting on my nerves gets blown out of proportion and I convince myself that our marriage is doomed. Or more to the point, that I will be left.
I've learned, albeit slowly, that this is old stuff. This is my "child" curled in a ball, feeling powerless and scared.
So I tried something different. I imagined myself being left. I imagined that, even though there was absolutely no evidence that my husband was planning to file for divorce rather than simply returning to work after a long holiday, I was being abandoned. I imagined that he was having another affair and I would be blind-sided.
My heart beat faster. My breathing became shallow.
And then…I realized that I was not a child. I was a woman with all the resources available to me that women have. I could contact a lawyer. I could lean on friends. I could access whatever I needed to get myself through a challenging time.
I've done it before…and I can do it again.
And in that moment, I realized how often I relinquish the floor to the child I was instead of the woman I am.
I hear it sometimes in the letters you send me. I hear the fear of abandonment. I hear the anguish of those who feel small and powerless. I hear how betrayal triggers our deepest fears -- that we're unlovable, that we're not enough, that we will be alone.
But within those letters, I often also hear something great. Strength. Determination. An ability to rise to the occasion. Some will say they take heart in others' stories of survival because that means that they, too, can survive.
Acknowledge that scared part of yourself that is triggered by betrayal. But be sure to remember too that we women are a force.