The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, January 24, 2014

Out of the Cradle...

“OUT of the cradle endlessly rocking,

Out of the mocking-bird’s throat, the musical shuttle,

Out of the Ninth-month midnight,

Over the sterile sands, and the fields beyond, where the child, leaving his bed, wander’d alone, bare-headed, barefoot…” -- Walt Whitman

This is important enough that I wanted to share it again.  The traumas (or nurturance) we receive in childhood can affect us for a lifetime: aligning our values, limiting our dreams, degrading or elevating our self-worth, literally grooving our brains with pain or pleasure, contorting our bodies with trapped emotion…

Such simple reasons why I’ve been willing to sacrifice anything for my children. Twice, I’ve walked away from the career I loved, because there was something more important: Nicki.  Jason.

I see myself in them, that is all.  I feel the connection, that is all.  I know how badly, achingly badly, it hurt when my father was not there to raise me.

My mother and father divorced when I was about…what?  Five?  Six?   I’m not sure.  I do know that I have no memory of playing ball with him, or wrestling, or anything like that.  And that, for reasons I did not discover for another fifty years, he was never there for me afterward.

I was so hungry for that energy.  Being raised by my mother and my sister Joyce, I certainly had the love I needed, but not the…force.  The Yang.  The ability to respond.   When other boys bullied me, pushed against me, I just wilted.

So hungry that little boy I was.  So desperate not just to understand what it was to be male, but for a male to be willing to love me enough to teach me.

Despite the fact that she had been a professional model, mom didn’t date much that I recall.    And for all I know I was a part of that.  I remember one day when I was perhaps seven, when one of her few beaus was at the house, sitting on the couch, and I curled up on a chair behind the couch like a little kitten or puppy.  Trying to be as cute and adorable as I could be.

Won’t you be my Daddy..? Everything inside me screamed.  Am I so ugly, so stupid, such a twisted thing that no one wants to be my Daddy..?

What a hole in my heart.  One it took another twenty years just to BEGIN to fill.  One I’ll never pass on to my children.

Every day I deal with clients or students who are dealing with the consequences of a childhood of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or scrambled input.   Obesity, addictions, cutting, bulimia, abusive relationships, anger issues, PTSD and attendant stress/strain related disorders…it is killing people

And can offer two basic pieces of advice:

1) Heal your own heart, and heal the relationship between the “child” and “adult” parts of your personality.  The Ancient Child meditation was initially created for this mighty purpose.   

2) Find a child to care for.   Re-commit to your own children. Reach out to a niece or nephew, join Big Brothers or Big Sisters, adopt.  Get out of yourself to heal yourself.

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.


No comments: