Did adults teach love or fear?
A few mornings ago, a deeply rooted fear approached the surface of my awareness— it may be a major source of my anxiety— the fear of adults.
Adults— these taller, authoritative and not always welcoming figures who literally, and often figuratively, look down on us when we are small. I guess it is one reason why it has been weird to be one and why, in many cases, especially in parenting, I got it wrong.
Who taught me to adult, and how was I taught?
I tried QNRT (Quantum Neuro Reset Therapy) recently and the practitioner asked— what happened between ages 9-11? Searching, mostly I came up blank, as though this entire span of my life I blacked out. However, what I do recall, an image that also came up in an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy session: little me is standing in line outside Ms. Odegard’s 3rd grade classroom. This image of my small self, being towered over by Odegard, folds inside of itself head first, as if choosing at that moment to go some place no one else would see me— EVER. Odegard was a mean, witchy-looking woman (more witch of the west, not south). She scared me, and away, inside myself, I went and stayed. Early experiences of bullying only solidified my existence there, with the added compounding affect of: I’m ugly and weird. I’m too much and I bother people just by being me. But it wasn’t me— I mean maybe the vulnerability of me likely made me a target, but it was also what I wore.
My mom gave love through buying me expensive things. She didn’t have a lot of money, just credit and expensive taste. Let’s just say I was the first person in 6th grade to have Guess jeans— the infamous triangle on the back pocket I exposed by keeping one part of my shirt tucked in at the back. Every bullying event was around something I wore from the barrettes that were pulled out of my hair and stomped on by dirty blonde-haired Allison, to the pink hat that matched an entire pink outfit that was snatched off my head by Jessica. The next day she gave it back to me in a brown paper bag. My hat was in the bag and a big clump of dog shit was in my hat.
I easily learned it is not okay to “show off— ” as if that is what I was doing. I was wearing what I had and loving it, until that happened.
I understand that these stories aren’t about the scary adults, but about mean kids, likely acting out because of the scary adults in their lives. Which brings me back to them, and what they mean to us when we are little.
The source of (pretty much) everything is in these young, developing years, and all around us are adults, these taller people that are supposed to know more than we do. So, we listen to them. We watch everything they do and because we are so spongy during this time we absorb a lot. In a way, we absorb them.
We can absorb their unprocessed and unregulated emotions. We can absorb the actions, behaviors and words that are done and told to us. Therefore, depending on what we are absorbing, we can believe that we are good, bad, worthy or unworthy, not enough or too much….And we can learn patterns of behaviors and thought that protect us and then as adults, harm us.
When there is a problem, there is not something to do, there is something to know.Dr. Raymond Charles Barker
Many seem to be returning to this childhood time, realizing this is the source of the pain, the repetitive and protective patterns and habits, the suffering. Once understood, which is a process, the more pure, real parts of ourselves can risk showing up and we welcome in a new experience of adulthood. One where, instead of feeling tight and constricted within ourselves, we feel more spacious and free. It is from this spaciousness that we present as an adult that won’t scare and shame away the smaller people.
Thanks for showing up,
~Nikki, The Soul Reporter