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March 17, 2009 / allyo

Projecting

Like many of my better post, this is indirectly inspired by a post of Dawn’s. I’m going to paraphrase my comment there over here to begin. Basically she’s talking about how her own experiences as a child are affecting a (good) transition, and even more so because the age of her oldest child corresponds to her age when her family went through some difficult times.

My own childhood trauma happened at age 4. When Jamie turned 4 last last fall I found myself projecting a lot of fear onto him. Where I had been laid back and happy to let him find his own way I had become overprotective, hovering, always worrying. I’d lie awake at night worrying that he’d grow up without any friends, that he’d be the weird kid, that somehow I was doing it all wrong. That our lack of money, our inability to have a stay at home parent was going to mess him up but good.

This was all mixed up with all the other pain and sorrow of last year and with a rough patch in our marriage. Plus the fact that his temperament these days is all me. Sure, he has his dad’s wacky sense of humor and flair for making me crack the heck up, but the cosleeping, the hugging, the snuggling – basically his need for loving, physical reassurance is me. Trust me – MD is NOT a fan of cuddling.

Growing up my dad provided a lot of this tactile affection but I only saw him once a week. My grandpa g was the person who filled this need in me. He died when I was a freshman and I remember telling my grandmother that she would have to get over her aversion to physical affection because I needed HER to fill that need for me now.

Jamie’s like that – he knows what he needs and he isn’t afraid to tell you so. He’s very good at expressing his feelings. I’ll ask him if he’s sad and he’ll retort, “No, I’m MAD!” It’s all there on the surface, even when he’s being quiet and still.

And I was like that too. I remember how much I needed to talk about my parents’ divorce. Never mind it happened before my memory. It impacted me daily. Not only on holidays or birthdays or Sundays that were always reserved for my dad’s visitation schedule. It was the 1970s and we were Catholic. One other girl in my class had parents who were divorced and at least she lived with her mom and step dad. I was a true anomaly. But whenever I’d try to bring it up my grandma would shut me down. The divorce, the two scary years when I was in my mom’s custody, and the court battle that pitted my grandparents and my dad against my mom were all events that my grandma needed to put behind her. But in doing so she slowly taught me not to ask for what I needed. I’m a little better than I was during much of my adult life when I’d as soon die as ask for help, but it is still a huge struggle to speak up.

I think that this difficulty with asking for help, along with my childhood trauma, and the lonely grade school years when I had no friends made me hyper-reactive for awhile. And like Dawn says in her post, I would have tears in my eyes for no reason, all the time. The loss of my mother and any chance at reconciliation and Jamie turning 4? A double-whammy. Many times I didn’t know exactly why I was crying. It just hurt.

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3 Comments

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  1. LittleWit / Mar 17 2009 2:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. Hugs!

  2. MystikMomma / Mar 17 2009 7:14 pm

    Nice work here… I think all children of some trauma, grow up to question their parenting. How can we avoid it? We look into these little innocent eyes that we created and we are transported back to a time that wasn’t pleasant. We remember what was going on in our life at that age. We remember the secrets, the lies, the sickness that surrounded us and at times we still feel the pain.

    Then a shocking realization happens that we are now the parent. We have this charge to create a happy childhood for our children, because no matter what happens, they will NOT suffer like we did.

    Projection happens, we recognize it and try to do the work necessary to get both our children through it, as well as the inner child we still carry around.

    Trust me I have already had some ugly moments and had some terrible reactions along with some centered, focused reactions that were responsible parent like. It is HARD, very hard to get through.

    I keep reminding hubbie there are parts of this parenting that he is going to have to take over. Some topics, I am just not equipped with the skills to tackle. I just don’t know what the normal reaction should be.

    You have a wonderful partner and he will help you as you help him get through life and help guide Jamie.

    This is good stuff, blogging it out and unraveling the mess that was our childhood… good stuff indeed.

  3. dawn / Mar 18 2009 8:37 am

    I thought of you when I wrote that post and of my friend who’s mom died when she was eight and spent her daughter’s eighth year terrified to leave the house. I know my trauma isn’t nearly as overwhelming (I hesitate to call it trauma at all) but thinking about our talk about Jamie’s age made me realize why I was such a mess.

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