In this post, I take a question from a reader, Andrea.
“Hi Sigrid :) I would love to get your feedback on an issue I have not been able to let go. I am extremly grateful for my 2 little girls, and my wonderful husband. And as much as I am so happy and grateful for this moment, I struggle with the passing of the ‘baby phase’ which I’m sure is normal. I kept myself VERY busy, over busy, during the first years of motherhood. I needed to prove myself. In the midst of taking so much on, I struggled with PPD for about the 1st year after my 2nd daughter was born.
I see signs now that my disconnection in the early developmental years has affected the bond I have with my daughters, esp my oldest. I was a fear filled, disconnected, angry mom behind closed doors. I was able to see myself and realize that THAT was not who I was, and was not the kind of mother/role model I wanted to be for my girls. Looking at the model I had (unfortunately, my mother suffers from OCD and depression, so is not always emotionally available), I realized in order to teach my girls to love themselves, I must learn to love and accept myself.
I’ve since emarked on a wonderful journey of self discover thru personal development work that I have been participating in. I am able to see why I acted the way I did, although, I have yet to fully forgive myself. I know ‘I should’, trust me. I believe carrying this around only contributes to the exact outcome I am trying to avoid, and yet, I see the consequences of my behavior in my relationship with my daughter and its a daily reminder of the damage I have caused. I feel resistance from her. And even at her young age, she carries so much of the past. She says in her little voice ‘remember that time mommy….’ and its often a negative experience.
I want to share the best of me with my girls. I want to release the past. I want to teach my girls to love themselves, and that family is SO important, and I want them to feel loved. I am worried that my past behavior has some how irreversably affected my ability to bond with them. How can we move forward when all I want to do is correct the past. If you have any specific suggestions for me to apply to the process I would be so thankful!!”
Thank you Andrea for your honest and open heart and for sharing your frustrations with all of us. I know many mothers can relate to you right now. No matter what you feel you have done to “damage” your children, I want you to stop right now! And understand this –
children are WILDLY forgiving. I am going to be bold here and suggest here that the only reason your daughter is bringing up the past is because you do. Whether you do it verbally or in your head, it seems very much like you are parenting with one foot in the past. You tell me with such loving words that you want to share the best of you with your girls and teach them to love themselves. The only way you can do that is to stop looking at the past and understand that your children WANT to feel good, they WANT to be connected to you, they WANT to feel love from you right NOW and that the only thing standing in the way of that is your focus on the past.
You can have all that you say you want by doing these 5 things with ALL of your heart and mind –>
1. In your journal, write down all the things you LEARNED from your past in this situation. What new insights about yourself and your role as a mother did you realize by traveling down your road? Forgiveness becomes less of the issue when we are able to extract the good in a situation.
2. Feel what you feel. When regret or sadness regarding your past show up, just be with them. They are just feelings and will not hurt you. Really, they won’t! Breathe into these feelings, and really feel them. Don’t engage with them (you know you are engaging with them when you feel yourself sinking into them and feeling like shit about yourself), simply let the feelings be with you. Most of our stress comes from fighting our feelings. We don’t want to feel bad. Just let them be there and they will pass. I promise. You can actually do this intentionally – find a place to sit alone where you will not be disturbed and bring these feelings forth on purpose. Remember to breathe.
3. So now, when regret pops up say to yourself STOP!! Either out loud or in your head. And then focus on THIS MOMENT right now. And see the beauty, see the flow, see what is good in every moment. There is alway something good in any moment, this I promise you. You just have to look for it. Get curious about the moment, about your children about anything that is going to please you in the moment. It could be a cold glass of water sitting in front of you, or a clean house, a warm bed or even a color that you see that pleases you. Find anything in your environment in the moment that is going to bring you back to NOW and to the good feelings in this moment.
4. Get grateful for what you have. And you have so much to be grateful for mama!! Make expressing gratitude a daily ritual. Start a gratitude journal where you write down at least 5 things at the end of the night that you are grateful for. Also buy the book, The Magic by Rhonda Byrne – SUPER book to help cultivate the habit of appreciating your life.
5. Forgiveness. Much of this work can eliminate the need to forgive yourself. As we focus on the positive we naturally lift ourselves up out of despair and feelings of self-loathing. If you still feel the need to focus on forgiving, try this excellent forgiveness meditation from Jack Kornfield.
Hope these things helped my friend!!! Again, thank you for sharing your struggles with the rest of the TJM mommies.
Have you experienced the same kind of feelings as Andrea? Share your thoughts below!