There is a whole population out there of parentified, uber-responsible, probably over-functioning people who have missed the boat on being taken care of. One of the hallmarks of this population is the absolute misery experienced when asking for help ….if they even permit themselves to do that. That’s kind of a sin isn’t it, this asking for help? It demonstrates some sort of flaw or weakness when we finally face the fact we can’t do it alone. And it never ever occurs to us that we shouldn’t face it alone! And if any one of our loved ones presented themselves to us the way we present ourselves to the world (stoic, self-contained, but suffering, miserable) we would tell them why aren’t you asking for help. There is sometimes a palpable sense of shame when asking for help, or letting the world know we are hurting. I should be able to deal with this, if I can’t do this who will, I’m better than this, if I break down, the world as I know it will end. Don’t kid yourself there are times when every parentified kid has had thoughts like this.
For a while, I was taking a yoga class. It was life changing. I had been struggling, my body not cooperating as I wished it would. My lesson in all this was to let go. I didn’t need to be so I intense. I could learn to relax into a pose. I could count on the pose rather than the pose count on me. That last line may sound crazy but I thought I was on to something.
It’s amazing all the things a yoga practice can teach you, and all the places in your life you can apply that to. I’ve said more than once already that applying the principles of yogic posture – smiling collar bones, heart forward, relax the jaw, relax the eyes – to bike riding has changed the experience dramatically.
Then there is the care. A gentle touch from a teacher to correct your pose, a gentle encouragement to go further, the unsolicited attention to bring something better to you, to ease your suffering. The kind of care that many of us parentified kids yearn for yet bristle against. Unless of course, you are beginning to relax into that, to let go into the receiving of that care. No small feat!
And yet, and yet … Melting into the care offered by another, allowing yourself the softness required to receive. And it’s the softness in your own heart, for your own self, gratitude for the care yes, but toward yourself for softening long enough to receive such a gift.
Can you imagine, that’s available to all of us.