Growing up

I've been in a bit of a developmental eddy lately.

It's been approximately two and a half years since I ate the foods that, for me, are directly analogous to drugs for a drug addict, or alcohol for an alcoholic. I haven't always eaten perfectly healthfully or moderately, or even uncompulsively, but I have abstained from what I accept is an addiction to the best of of my ability, as made possible through a lot of gut-wrenching honesty, accountability and surrender to the need to learn -- and the need to exercise discipline in the learning -- how to live my life in way that makes staying "present" to it possible.

As a result of these almost two and a half years, I am starting to recognize patterns of behavior and their sources in a way I haven't had the clarity to do before. Just lately, I've been feeling a lot of anger and hurt leftover from my childhood and recognizing where it comes from -- the specific things that happened. None of it is like suddenly realizing you were abducted by aliens or a victim of incest or anything nearly so dramatic or dark. All of it I knew as part of my history, but feelings I never acknowledged -- covering them immediately up with a sugar/chocolate high -- have finally bubbled to the surface and want to be named for what they are and recognized as appropriate to the experiences from which they stem.

And they are.

But they're also -- some of them -- over 35 years late. It's kind of a conundrum. I recognize the need to honor them, but I also recognize the need to frame them as from the past, about events that are over and done with -- facts of my history that sinking into the feelings they spawned, but were buried for so long, will not alter or improve. And which, in fact, expressed and experienced now, interfere with the present moment, delay my experience of what is happening now, and often prompt inappropriate responses to it. Maybe, if I lived alone, that history is a deep dark well I could crawl into and wallow until all the emotional intensity of those events from the past was spent and over. But I don't live alone. I live with a husband I adore and two small kids I also adore who need my attention and engagement. I have commitments -- explicit, implicit, emotional and logistical -- to friends, family and community which I need the wherewithal to honor.

On one hand, I need to be functional and attentive to the here and now, loving to the people I am with, and the moment I am in. But on the other hand, there is a -- justifiably -- very hurt, lonely, and scared little girl inside of me clamoring for reassurance and attention and love, who actually does also need those things in order to release me to be an adult.

There is a medium here, a middle way, and I'm weaving and veering this way and that way across it -- but it's the guideline. I'm trying to use it to keep my bearings, bringing my swerves to one side or the other shallower alongside its course.

Yesterday, the following very clarifying thought came to me:
A child learns love by receiving it; an adult learns love by sharing it. The child in me that needed love she didn't get will always lack it, as a fact of the past she lived through. I am not that child anymore; even if she does still live in me, we are not living in the experience she had. That is over. NOW, the best way to "get" the love "she" and "I" need is to share/show/experience/have/give love to others; we will learn it together, experience it together, and -- I pray -- she will keep us honest about soaking it up as it comes, about letting it sink in until our parched self is lush and juicy with it.

I don't expect myself to do this perfectly. I just pray for the ability and willingness to keep learning how to do it at all.

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