An Open Letter to the Child We Forgot to Parent
Dear Younger Self,
Today, I felt compelled to write.
Write you, or us, a long overdue message of thanks.
You were just a little girl, all alone, doing what was needed to keep us loved and secure. You did your very best to be who everyone wanted you to be. To do what everyone asked you to do. To give up parts of yourself -- emotionally and physically -- because in order to be loved and feel important, you had to earn it. All you knew was chaos and confusion, yet you created order and structure to make our world feel safe.
You were the brave one, making decisions that no child should have to make. Living in a world where your only protection was hiding your hurt away in your journals and numbing your fear and pain with food. My heart breaks over and over for all the hurt and suffering you experienced. I’m so sorry you had to do this on your own.
Dear sweet girl, I apologize for not taking the reins earlier. You needed me to grow you up, and instead, I let you, a child, lead in an adult life. You were asking me to take over, to be the adult and protect you. To teach you a different way to live -- for both of us. And I was too scared to try. I was too consumed with the need to be important to others, that I lost my own significance to myself. I loved hard, but I didn’t love myself. I failed you, I failed me, I failed us.
I’m ready to grow us up together. I will take the lead. I’m ready to hear what you’ve been asking for: love and safety. I’m ready to commit to us. Taking the energy we have spent tending to everyone else’s needs, and instead, I will focus on our needs first.
Today, we heal together. We navigate our hurt in healthy ways. We feel safe in asking for guidance to deal with outdated patterns: like why we are so wrapped up in people pleasing and our irrational fear of abandonment. We see clearly why we yearn to be significant in this world and how the overwhelming need for stability still gets mixed up with the attraction of chaos.
Precious child, I love you. All of you. And I love us. All of us. Just as we are, right now.
Today, I promise to be the adult, the parent, and allow you to grow up in a safe and loving space.
Please forgive me for ignoring your cries...our cries...for help.
The truth is, sometimes, the child that is hardest to parent, is ourself.
Selena Maestas is a mother of two and public speaker living in Oregon. She believes hugely in self care and loving yourself, and she makes this wildly clear with her efforts running The Love You More Project. You can check out more information about her, and the project, here.