Walking on Fresh Grass
It's my birthday today. Oh no, here it is again. That feeling from my childhood; the high expectations that will never be met. We are on a short break near the sea. The glassy water today was luminous and reflective. It mirrored my emotions and made me think back.
I was taught to live from event to event. Being the youngest of five, all my clothes and toys were hand-downs. I was bought my first pair of new jeans when I was 13. Birthdays and Christmas were the only times I received new things. “New” has an allure for me that I haven’t been able to get rid of.
I cry every birthday. Not because I am getting older and not because I don’t get enough presents, but because I have been given a template in my childhood that said “birthdays should be the best day of the year and make you the happiest you have ever been.” I have such high expectations of the day, of those around me, of getting lots of lovely presents that will make me happy. I cry because that conditioning is so strong that no matter how hard I try to not have expectations; I always feel let down.
Christian sees people regularly that have much, much more difficult templates from their childhood: sexual abuse, violence, damaging parenting. Pretty hard to smash those templates.
Parents’ behaviour becomes a template for children’s lives. A model through which they see themselves, express themselves and handle life.
We all have childhood conditioning of some sort that is unhealthy; that we need to work on. Conditioning that hurts those we love, ourselves, or sets our expectations of life and others so high that we are constantly disappointed. This negative conditioning can be so powerful that it wraps chains around our heart that we can’t even see. Identifying it is half the battle.
Christian and I often talk about the conditioning from our childhood that ties us in knots. We can see it in each other. High expectations on birthdays is only the gateway to much bigger issues that spring from my childhood.
When I returned from my walk, Christian noticed my tear-stained eyes.
“What’s wrong my love?”
I just waited.
“Birthday blues huh?” he whispered as he hugged me.
It is soooo good to be known. It heals so much. This is Christian’s real gift to me, and it is enough.
I have always actually had a hard time with the artificiality that occurs when people open birthday presents.
The “Ooh what could it be?”
The “Oh that’s just what I wanted”
The “You always spoil me”
So many packaged responses. We are all made up of very complex emotions aren’t we?
Now I have to confess that I actually love gifts. But…
The best gifts are unrelated to special occasions or saying sorry.
They are given at spontaneous times.
They are often small.
They don’t always have to have monetary value. (Like our gift ideas in our December blog).
In the afternoon I was still feeling let down and a bit empty. We watched the fiery ball of the sun delicately balance on the horizon then slowly lose its grip and disappear beyond the waves. The real gift was sharing this with someone who knows me well and is by my side.
364 days of no expectations stretched out before me.
Welcome to our blog. Each blog contains a little story of our journey and an insight drawn from Christian's 18 years of clinical experience as a psychiatrist. The central ideas are in bold. We post every fortnight and would love to hear your comments. Looking forward to travelling with you in this amazing journey called life.