I have an interesting dynamic with my kid. His becoming a toddler was what kicked off the flashbacks of my abuse as a toddler. In my post Triggered by Child’s Birthday, I shared how my son’s 7th birthday set me into a tailspin because my abuse became significantly more severe at age seven.
For whatever reason, a part of myself sees my son as an extension of my inner child. I have to remind myself that he is not me. While I had nobody to protect me as a child, he has me, and I will keep him safe.
Last week, a child in my son’s school lost his mother in a car accident. The child is only five years old and was in the car crash that took his mother’s life. Obviously, anyone with any connection to this family was upset, but my reaction was much stronger than I would have expected, considering that I never met the mother and do not know the child very well. (I tutor the older children in his class but never worked with him.)
I finally realized what my problem was. I have a deep-seated belief that the world is an unsafe place and that I am the only thing standing between my son and severe abuse. Seeing a young boy lose his mother triggered my fears of leaving my son unprotected. Watching a woman around my same age lose her life so suddenly drove home how suddenly I could be taken away from my son. Even though I have no fear of dying, I have an intense fear of leaving my son unprotected.
So, now I am trying to focus on dismantling my incorrect beliefs that were shaped by the abuse I suffered. My son has a very different life than I had. Even if I died tomorrow, he is surrounded by people who love him and who would protect him. Unlike my parents, who chose to hang around with very sick people, I have developed many healthy friendships. I have no question that these friends would look out for my kid. Also, my husband is very different from my parents and would keep our son safe as well.
It never ceases to amaze me that the abuse truly permeated every aspect of my life. I am also always surprised that I continue to heal different parts of myself, even areas that I thought were already healed. There always seems to be a deeper layer that needs attention.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt