Bury your parents…psychologically speaking
Playing with my toys, dreaming of worlds that exist only in my mind. Sometimes dreaming of walking on that beautiful beach they just showed in a TV program. Being abruptly brought to reality by a scream like “Ale stop playing!! I can’t follow the news”, or by an imperative order that seems so urgent.
No, it is not happening right now if that’s what you are thinking and yes, I let you see my childhood through my eyes for a moment. I still remember how I caught myself thinking that I was looking forward to becoming an adult. “When I become an adult, I am going to do whatever I want!” That was my promise to myself.
I was truly convinced that I would become an adult when a certain day would occur, i.e. turning 18. A day that is established by a human convention, the calendar. When I finally turned 18, I was so proud of myself and so scared. What does an adult do? How is an adult supposed to behave? What can I do and what can’t I do?
“When I become an adult, I am going to do whatever I want!” That was my promise to myself.
I was craving for finding someone who could teach me how to be an adult. I changed many teachers, but nobody was giving me what I wanted and the worse part was that I didn’t really know what I wanted. I was so focused on finding the way among the huge variety of “must”, “should”, “would”, that I didn’t pay attention to the whole picture. Day after day, month after month, time passed and I was still struggling with questions that didn’t have a clear answer. In the meantime, I continued to do what I was supposed to do. You know, it feels safe and it was good for my ego. I felt temporarly accepted when the adrenaline kicked in at the smallest praise. “Good job Ale”, and a voice inside me would scream “you made it!!!”. The voice jumping around in my brain kept me hooked to the do-what-you-are-supposed-to attitude.
Until one day, when I realized that I had been blind for a long time. I didn’t ask myself one of the most terrifying, though very simple, questions: what does being an adult mean to me? A question that surprised me for its intrinsic value and simplicity. Giving an answer to what an adult is, instead of how an adult behaves, would make everything simple. Instead of collecting behaviours, often clashing with each other, that didn’t belong to me, I could establish what a human being is. To use a metaphor, I was trying to force the pieces of different puzzles together still pretending to create a coherent image while what I could do was to simply define the idea of puzzle and make one by myself. From this point on, behaviours would derive.
If you were to ask yourself what it means to be an adult, what would you reply? The answer I would give deals with only one idea: freedom. To me, being an adult means being free to shape myself as I want, without being afraid of what other people think or say. But then the consequent questions are: who are the people whose judgements have the biggest impact on me? From whom did I learn to feel afraid to redefine my own values? Who taught me that daydreaming was stupid, that seeking inspiration in nature was for naive children and that a life without constant hard work, discipline and battles to win was worthless?
I didn’t ask myself one of the most terrifying, though very simple, questions: what does being an adult mean to me?
In my case, those people were the members of my family. The ones who gave me an education and deprived me of the right to shape my world. They wanted me to conform to their rules and values. Now, I am perfectly fine with a person wanting something from me. I am not at ease with a person who forces me to give her whatever she wants. I am not rejecting all the values that were taught to me. What I am rejecting is believing that certain educational dogmas need to be universally accepted. In my opinion, a more interesting educational approach arises whenever the educators don’t make what they teach their god, allowing space for doubts and criticism. My point of view felt so good to me that I started living what I am convinced is a powerful educational approach. In doing so, the inevitable clash of mentalities between me and my former educators took place.
I knew that the clash could potentially open a deep gap in the relationship with my family. I embraced the unknown because I experienced how fruitful my approach was. I gained more and more strength until I was able to claim my right to redefine my values. I was able to look back at my educators with different eyes in which the light of freedom was sparkling. Freedom from the need for approval, freedom from the fear of being judged. Freedom that allowed me to step out of my nest, spread my wings and fly. If I interviewed myself I would ask:
- Were my educators disappointed? — Definitely! They were really upset. they couldn’t recognize me anymore. Consequently, they got scared of losing me. A period of misunderstandings came and that period is still going on. I am quite confident in predicting that more misunderstandings will come.
- Was it painful for me? — Oh yes, very painful! I had to tear apart a skin that wasn’t mine and be patient in nurturing the growth of a new layer of skin. I went against the grain being consequently rejected by my family.
- Would I make the same decision if I travelled back in time? — Absolutely yes!!! I have never felt so free in my life
I buried the idea that the role of a parent needs to overlap with the people who welcomed me in this world.
What did I then learn during my process of becoming an adult? I learnt that a person is not the role. The members of my family had the role of educators, but now I can look at them as the people they are with all their virtues and their flaws. I made peace with the idea that the role of a parent needs to overlap with the people who welcomed me in this world. I can be the parent of myself by nurturing my values and strengthening my will to put those values into practice on a daily basis.
When I look back at how I evolved, I realize that a child was taught how to be tough by being aggressive and angry. That child turned into a scared human being who could only keep people away from him. Bit by bit, the child realized how distant he was from himself. He started loving the imperfect human being he was until he understood how precious self love is and how much responsibility he holds towards himself. He doesn’t need people to impose him ideas. He can choose to take care of tender and respectful relationships where a dialogue is considered as a way to grow, not to gain self esteem by humiliating others. The child decided to fly out of the nest, grateful for all he received and enthusiast for all he can become. He buried the role of parents. He started his journey on becoming an adult.
I then feel at peace with myself and my life choices. I allow myself to dive into possible scenarios. I then shake my head when I decide that daydreaming can give way to something else. Enough daydreaming for today. My smile gets wide at the silence in my head: no calls to duty, only choices.
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Originally published at www.yougrowwegrow.net.