A Living Room Stories “Wisdom For My Younger Self” story by Carolyn Dalgliesh
Presented April 3, 2014 at The Living Room
There you are at about 10 years old looking out the third floor window as tears stream down your face. Your sister had been missing for a few hours and you were filled with fear and sadness that something horrible had happened. You begin to pick-up the bedroom that you and your sister share and you notice how this helps calm the chaos you are feeling inside. The organized external environment settles the overwhelmed inside. A wave a relief fills you when hear your sister has been found safely but an important pattern has started.
A sweet, feeling girl, you are often overwhelmed by what the world presents to you and this becomes a major obstacle and also one of your strongest gifts. You are soft and round and hear often “you have such a pretty face” which you begin to learn is code for “you should lose a few pounds”. But this softness your body has makes you feel safe and protected. Throughout your life, you often hold back as you work through the worst case scenario in your head in almost any situation. But you also have a few experiences of unexpected courage – times when you do something so far outside of your comfort zone that you begin to see you hold a hidden strength deep within you.
I stand before you today still holding some roundness and softness though I don’t appreciate it’s purpose like I did years ago.
I still often hold back in life as I work through the worse case scenario in my head.
I still embrace the power of organizing the external environment to support my internal chaos. But I see that it is my bridge to connecting the way I think life should be and the way life actually is.
So here I am – someone who has organized my whole life and then I go and fall in love my complete opposite – I fall in love with Chaos. He is name is RON. He is big, loud, and messy. Surprisingly – I am able to adjust to his chaos and actually begin to appreciate it.
Then on April 11, 2001 chaos came in a 7 1/2 lb package. I feel instant love and instant fear. As my child begins to grow and show signs of developmental delays – I begin to feel I have a child I don’t think I’m supposed to have, one that I don’t think I’ll be able to support, one who is on a path I don’t think he’s supposed to be on. HE IS, in a nutshell, The Extreme version of my overwhelmed younger self. Ironically – he craves the very structure I had started to move away from.
But this child, and his sister who came along soon after, come with many lessons – the most important being the gift of investigating a few important illusions I had grown up believing.
1) The illusion of Parent / Child Organizational Chart
- I believed in the illusion of the parent being in control
- That the Parent would teach the child
- That I was leader of the ship
2) The Illusion of my story as the Parent of a Special Needs Child
- This illusion allowed me to Play out the Role of VICTIM
- Explore the belief that children are supposed to be a certain way
- The illusion that my child was the one with special needs vs. me being the one with the special needs.
3) The Illusion that Chaos is something that can be Controlled
- For me – focusing on details in a situation can be a pattern of resistance
- Explore the idea that perfection is often rooted in guilt
- Like many other external forces, Chaos / Clutter only have the power I have given it
13 years later – here I am. I wrote a called a book called “The Sensory Child Gets Organized” – something surprising on so many levels. One being that I almost failed English in middle school multiple times and have the attention span of gnat. Another being my propensity to control things – something that can get in the way when you are working with a big publishing house. But with this book – I learned to LET GO in ways that I had never been able to before and while the goal of this book was to help parents, the book helped me infinitely more. I’m thinking my next book should be “The Sensory Parent Learns to Let Go – The Journey of Letting go of Illusions and Finding Truth”.
The Wisdom I would share with my younger self turns my old beliefs upside down:
TRUTH: The Child Often Teaches the Parent
* Your Children come with wisdom
There will be a time when you will lecture your son on his resistant behavior as a new tween and he will look at you and say “It must be hard for you to teach me to be independent and not need you anymore”. He will see the truth before you do – that you are the resistant one – resistant about letting him go.
The time you will push your 9 year old daughter into therapy because of your “challenging family experience” and her response was “I think you need the therapy -You get so attached to things”. And she will be right.
* Know that Your Children will Teach You: One will show you what you’re here to do with your life and the Other will teach you about yourself.
TRUTH: The Only Special Need is Your Thinking
Your unexpected parenting experience will be your opportunity to unplug from illusions – take it!
The journey will not be about accepting your children exactly as they are but in accepting yourself exactly as you are.
TRUTH: Life is Chaos
Learn to use organization and structure as a path to forgiveness and acceptance vs. a way to control a situation
Learn to live through your own internal wisdom vs. the external plan. Like your children, you came here with wisdom too – you’ve just forgotten how to listen to it.
My biggest piece of wisdom for you – my younger self – is to learn how to EMBRACE CHAOS. Know that truth is stronger than chaos. Like this image behind me – the pieces of chaos in life can look rough and disconnected when analyzed separately but when you let go and allow them to come together for the greater purpose, a beautiful story will emerge.