Alzheimer's, Challenges, Family, Feelings, Health, Life, Love, Relationships, Writing

15 Empowering Things to Tell Your Kids (and Yourself)

AWR say I love u a lotIn the summer of 2012, I was cracking up (not in a good way). I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. So I did both. Often. And intensely.

Things were going seriously south. I was at my wits’ end, about to break apart. Luckily, I have enough life experience to know when it’s time to call in the cavalry.

I went online, googled the name of a wonderful therapist (S.Z.) whom I’d seen for several months in 1989, and amazingly was able to find her! Doing so blew my mind – the bits of it, that is, that remained intact after too much alone time with someone whose mind was also being blown (in a tragically different way) by Alzheimer’s disease.

I won’t go into all the sordid (and joyful) details now. They’re not the subject of this post, but rather of a play, and possibly a book, on which I’m working, and hope to complete before I die; death being the final deadline for pretty much everything earthly.

The word deadline, by the way, was born somewhere between 1855 and 1860. It was the boundary around a military prison beyond which a prisoner could not venture without risk of being shot by the guards. As in:

“Walk past that line buddy, and you’re gonna’ end up deader than a doornail.”

Whoa! The origin of “deader than a doornail” is less clear; you’ll find a possible explanation here.

One thing for sure, I was feeling imprisoned in more ways than one in 2012. And while there were no guards on the rooftop waiting to kill me should I try to escape, Alzheimer’s and my caregiving role had created a deadline around the perimeter of my shrinking space that was as real to me as that faced by escape-minded prisoners in the 1800s.

Problem was, part of me was dying by choosing to stay; another part would die if I chose to leave. Deadline either way. Rats. I needed some options for living!

Thankfully, S.Z. came galloping onto the scene – flag waving, bugle blaring – to rescue me to help me rescue myself. Coincidentally, in addition to being a top-notch therapist, S.Z. is also a champion horsewoman. So the cavalry idiom/analogy fits to a T.

Little girl eyesOver a trio of emergency sessions, we talked about the little girl in me (<=that’s her looking at us from all the way back in 1957), how she may have gotten broken, and what I could do to take care of her and heal myself. My adult job is to see her, hear her, and make a clear boundary when others say destructive and hurtful things to me, and thus, by default, to her as well.

S.Z. shared a short list of “good parent messages” (developed by Jack Rosenberg and Beverly Kitaen-MorseIntegrative of the Body Psychotherapy Rosenberg-Kitaen Central Institute Inc.), to help me back to a level of wholeness that would allow me to continue to care for my Mom and myself.  Yes! I DO get to the point eventually and no sooner.

This may all sound a bit hokey, but it made a big impact on me. I wish my parents had said these kinds of things to me when I was a little girl. It would have been helpful, then and now. On the plus side, they were pretty well versed in these seven powerful secrets for parenting girls.

The additional good news is I can say the 15 messages to my adult self (and my inner little girl), to help me heal me, and protect her at the same time. Even better news is you can use them too.

If you are a parent, say them to your children to help them grow up to be healthy, whole, fully functioning adults. If you need healing (like me), say them to yourself, to rebuild your emotional core.

Without further ado, here they are (trigger warning: you may or may not be able to say them to your child or your inner child without becoming deeply emotional):

  1. I love you.
  2. I want you.
  3. You are special to me.
  4. I see you, and I hear you.
  5. It is not what you do, but who you are that I love.
  6. I love you, and I give you permission to be different from me.
  7. I will take care of you.
  8. I will be there for you; I will be there even when you die.
  9. You don’t have to be alone anymore.
  10. You can trust me.
  11. You can trust your inner voice.
  12. Sometimes I will tell you “no.” When I do, it’s because I love you.
  13. You don’t have to be afraid anymore.
  14. My love will make you well.
  15. I welcome and cherish your love.

Share with yourself, your kids, and others.


12 thoughts

  • I found a link to your blog on T.K. Coleman’s recent blog post, “What side am I on”.
    Nothing hokey about anything you have written in this post. Thanks you so much for sharing the 15
    messages to your adult and child self that you discovered through therapy and work on yourself. I needed to read them all and will be saying them to myself and my inner child from today on. One particularly hit home for me in a place inside that so needs to hear it, #9. You don’t have to be alone anymore.
    A wonderful and moving post. Thanks again.

  • This is the second post of yours today, about children, that has come my way. I feel like the Universe is trying to tell me something. My daughter, who lives 1200 miles away, paid me a surprise visit and was here for the weekend. She’s like me in that she has strong opinions and voices them passionately. We rarely agree on any given subject so that makes for some very heated discussions. On your Twitter post the word “hostility” jumped off the page which led me to think about how our exchanges might appear hostile. I don’t feel that way toward her so nothing could be further from the truth but I see how she may “take it” that way. In your blog, it’s #6. I’ve never said that to her which makes me feel so sad because we are so different. Sad for her and for me. On the flip side, I feel blessed that I paid attention to the gentle tap on my shoulder and that I know it now. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, Susan.

    • Thank YOU, from the bottom of MY heart, Patricia.

      And isn’t it interesting that you and my Mom share the name Patricia? The Universe is a strange place indeed.

      #6 also resonates powerfully with me; you will see it clearly in The Play (in the works).

      I’m not sure to which Twitter post you refer on children…? You say the word hostility struck you – which post was it exactly? I have so many (most of which are auto tweeted), that I lose track 🙁

      Isn’t it wonderful that you have raised a daughter who believes she has a right to an opinion, as well as the right to express it passionately, AND that she feels she can do so with you, despite the conflict that may ensue… What a great gift you have given your daughter. We need more mothers to do the same.

      I know this is personal, but I wonder if you intend to share #6 with her? And if so, I would love to know what happens when and after you do… 🙂

      So glad we connected.

      • TheTwitter post is: Amazing Women Rock ‏@AmazingWomen 15h
        Instructive #PINK Muahs to: @marygiuseffi @KMErickson @TDarisiOHG @jrzygirlinfla

        Thank you for the kind words. I am not lacking in parenting regrets so that was very welcomed. One of the things that I did recently “say” to my daughter (via text) was that if I knew then what I know now I would “mother” her so differently. I always was a late bloomer.

        I will definitely share it with her – thought I would wait and maybe say the words when it seemed fitting but you made me look at it again, Susan. Now I’m thinking that it would be more meaningful if I started a conversation and shared my revelation upon reading your blog. Wish S.Z. would come galloping to my rescue. 🙂 I will certainly let you know how it goes. I appreciate and welcome your interest. I’m looking forward to sharing and especially looking forward to getting your take on the outcome.

        To the Universe!

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