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My perception of myself was preventing me from doing the most important thing a parent needs to do - love without condition.
I've been contemplating the concept of perception this week; that is, how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. I've always perceived myself as a strong, passionate woman, but until I met Mr Kind, I never had the opportunity to view myself as someone who could open up into vulnerability or be someone who could be loved by a man.
I have always perceived myself as someone who...
...was introverted but who could, if necessary, slide into the social world that we inhabit in order to fit in. Ultimately I actually didn't WANT to be in a world where I felt so different from other people in interests, worldview and values. I've spent my lifetime seeking this "tribe" of people who see the world in the way I do, but then realised I was actually isolating myself from everyone around me and by default contributing to the increasing separation that we have from each other.
I have always perceived my inner self as unworthy and undeserving of love and acceptance by others and no greater lesson was learned this week than from the School of Parenting - Teenagers. One of my greatest achievements did not live up to my behavioural expectations of her. She let herself, her school and me down. I fell into a pit of despair, self-loathing and self-blame. What could I have done differently? I must be a terrible mother to raise a child who would do this? It's my fault. My self-flagellation is limitless. Did I really do my best? What can I do to prevent her from making these terrible life choices that will lead to only negative things later on?
Many times people tell me not to take on the decisions made by my offspring, but how can I not when I have been their primary caregiver - there is no-one else to blame. As a single mum, I know the statistics for positive outcomes for my children are worse than for children with two parents, and I tried so hard to...but I thought failed in passing on my most important things - my values. It was then that I realised. My perception of myself was preventing me from doing the most important thing a parent needs to do - love without condition. I was so wrapped up in my own self-flagellation that I couldn't see her behaviour for what it was - a test of her own boundaries and of mine, a test of her values against mine and an opportunity to try on a new identity or way she could perceive herself (by no means that doesn't absolve her of the behaviour, I'm still rightfully angry about it).
When we are parents, it's so easy to slip into the self-blaming pattern, as I did and to be honest, I'll probably continue to do so out of habit. But then I remember the golden rule of life as suggested by Don Miguel Ruiz in the Four Agreements - never take anything personally - easier said than done! What's at stake here is both of our perceptions of her are changing; she is no longer my little, adorable, funny baby, but instead she is turning into a woman and trying on identities and challenging values to figure out what hers are.
In the meantime, I need to trust in my perception of myself of an introverted, bookish, free-spirited woman who is also figuring out who she is without the sound of children's laughter in our home anymore and love my daughters for the women they are becoming, even if their version is different from what I imagined. Being a parent is not easy - it is both a perception and a reality - from the moment we become a parent our perceptions of ourselves and our purpose in life change and then just as quickly they are almost adults and we are re-evaluating our role in both theirs and our lives.
I perceive myself to be a woman who has done her very best to pass on her values of family, creativity, adventure, spirituality and learning, I can only hope that whatever values they choose, it makes them happy. May you love your children, yourself and each other unconditionally, the world needs the peace that starts within each of us.
©Alyssa Curtayne 2019
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