The first time I met an adult who took the time to get to know me and thought I was really cool, made a huge impact on my life. Up until that point I was the kid that everyone pushed into the back corner and no-one wanted to hear from. Adopted by my grandparents out of a sense of duty, their existing kids resented me. At least my brother was a boy, and boys had value. I was just another girl.
I don’t remember anyone really spending time to get to know who I was as a kid, so having someone who did, seemed magical.
It was a moment of validation. It was a shot in the arm and encouragement that I could actually be who I was, as different as I was from all the people I saw around me. It gave me armour against the barbs and the neglect. But . . .
. . . it was fleeting.
That person came and went in my life and I never saw them again.
Not having an adult who knew me or believed in me, as a constant in my life, left huge scars. I did not even know what qualities of worth I had to offer the world until I was married. I did not know how smart I was, or talented, or that I was a good person. People understand bullying and unkindness and how it impacts a child but resentment, neglect and absence of affection, also scars.
I had to fight all my own battles. I had to parent myself emotionally. And most of all, I had to have the strength to cut the ties and walk away. I know I have no family. It took me quite awhile to understand that that was not my fault. Like many other people I have had to come to terms with how toxic those people were for me, and accept that their issues are their demons, and not mine.
It has made me acutely aware of supporting my own children to be themselves. It was made me insist on reaching out to children around me that I see struggling, and to support parents to accept their children for who they are. Our children are not us. They have a different path, in a different time, with different circumstances and companions. They are motivated by different things, and have different goals and different tools. It is not my job to put them in a cage and tell them what they must like and do. It is not even my job to tell them who they are.
It is my job to support their efforts to answer all those questions for themselves. It is my privilege to be able to share that exploration at times and to love them as they reach for the stars and fall short, and try again. I give them both their roots and their wings. And something magical happens. Within that role I learn that I am not the child that was unwanted and ignored. I heal.
It is the circle of life.
It can take an entire life to undo damage from our childhood . . . if you are lucky. Some people never achieve it. Childhood is so incredibly fleeting, it seems but a moment in the lifetime that follows it. Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best that they can possibly be.
If that was the only commitment each of us made in this life, to be that person to one child, we could heal the world. All around us are the broken people who never had a single person walk with them through their lives. We see people who were never told that they mattered, who grew up without anyone ever believing in anything they could do. We see people who no-one has ever taken the time to get to know.
That is pain.
And the reason we are lost.
One child. You will see the difference it can make in his life, and more importantly .. . the difference THAT child will make in the world.
We can never say that there was nothing that we could do to stop the world from heading towards its own destruction because we all have the ability to do exactly that. Perhaps we are so caught up in the fantasy of the hero who has to have some kind of superpower and save the entire world in a way that they are forever famous .. . that we have lost our own sense of both reality and power.
We all deserve it.