Annie would say she was absent from school the day this lesson was taught. I guess I was too.
Who knew that feelings were so important? I am learning so much from this book my counselor recommended.
I have learned that I’m an Avoider Parent. I have learned that giving comfort teaches our children to turn to people and relationships, and ultimately to God, in times of distress, rather than trying to find relief from pain by escape or addiction. I have learned that our right brains have stored emotional memories from our first couple years of life that can affect us as adults. I have learned that it’s never, ever too late to start learning about emotion and teaching our children about emotion.
The most poignant learning for me, however, relates directly to what I’ve faced the past month or more with Story and her bathroom anxiety at school:
After a good deal of self-reflection, I can see that I have lived my life trying not to be, or to feel, needy. I have thought of neediness as weakness. You are on your own, so don’t be needy.
This is just one lie of many:
If I don't need anyone, then no one should need me.
If I don’t need anyone, then I can control my life and what happens to me.
If I don't need anyone, then I can deal with my own feelings in my own ways, separate from others.
BUT…to shut down feelings is to shut down an essential part of being human, so here is the sticky note I made for myself the other day:
I spent some time recently trying to reframe this human need to be “needy” in a more positive way. What word or phrase could I use to imbue the idea with a positive association in my mind?
Lean into, look to, depend on, trust in.
Parts of a whole.
”Jars of clay.”
Strength in weakness.
And then today, just this morning, the word came to me. Tandem. I met my friend Melissa at Tandem this morning, and I took my girls to Tandem last week (a Halloween dress in May!). I frequent this place that reminds me again and again what their tagline is: “Together is Best.”
I want to live in tandem with my family, with my friends, and with God. I want to stay in step with the Holy Spirit, daily, so I don’t succeed at the wrong things. I want to see the places that need tweaking and stay open to being needed and being needy myself. I want to feel so I can know what I need.
I want to get to know these beautiful girls, how they feel, what they are like, what they need. I am excited to have summer break on the horizon, which I’m deeming the Summer of Feeling. We are working on some summer ideas as a family, as we seek to feel emotions and to need one another by experiencing life together. I hope and pray there will be lots of Tandem in our future, and lots of living in tandem.