I was holding a small, shaking kitten wrapped in a towel.
Like the old days of foster babies I was rocking back and forth, gently gently.
I was repeating softly, “You are loved, you are safe, you are cherished…” Grubby and frightened, this little kitten had been found stray in a parking lot and brought to the rescue where I volunteer.
Shhhh shhhh, soothe, soothe…
Suddenly i realized: THIS is what i wanted as a small child but didn’t have.
My parents, my “caregivers,” lacked the essential skill of giving their children a sense of belonging, of safety, of being loved.
Yes, we were provided with food–I might not like the canned spinach or the frozen lima beans served for dinner, but we never worried about going hungry.
Yes, we had a nice house that was well cared for. Yes, we had comfortable beds with clean sheets (and our mother ironed them back in the day!)
We didn’t worry about food, we didn’t worry about shelter. We had warm clothing for the Oregon winters, and bicycles to ride all over the neighborhood in the summer.
But I think we all had big holes inside where that sense of being loved, of mattering, was left empty.
Whether it was the abusive words or abusive hands, or for me as the youngest, simply being left un-comforted and in constant fear, that hole in our being was left dry and empty.
My big sister’s response was to love without condition all children, i think especially the ones who struggled to fit in, to be accepted.
She’s been gone now, ten years. I believe that hole inside her helped wear her down, to lose hope. I hate that so much.
I seem to have chosen Nurturer too. In fact, I can’t even fathom how someone could not love their child with their whole heart, could not want to fill that space in them with a sense of safety, of the knowledge they are fully loved. The innocent deserve no less than our protection.
I believe in a Creator of this vast and complex universe, and that I’m part of that creation. That I’m here to learn and grow and love.
I also believe we can learn at any age to love ourselves, be our own safe spaces, and cherish our uniqueness, no matter the messages our early lives etched into our bones.
Because I am learning.
This blog has been that journey, the faltering steps, the falling into the same hole over and over and pulling myself out.
I’m thankful for your company, my fellow traveler!