I have chosen change. I have chosen the harder path for my life that means fighting against my childhood and experiences that held me back in order to be free, in order to be an unfettered me.
The first time I actively chose change was when my eldest was born. On my return from the hospital with him I sat down and painfully contemplated the reality that one day I would have to divorce his father if I was going to protect my child by giving him a safer and more loving upbringing than I had. It took me a few more years to carry that out.
In the same vein the second time I chose change was when I threw out my then partner and father of my three younger children. That too took me a number of years to achieve and there was an incredible amount of emotional pain.
I chose change when I sought counselling. I later chose change when I chose to pay for private counselling, having chosen to believe that I was worth it.
Change meant rupturing the close relationship with my mother, by choosing to no longer collude with her against my father.
Change has meant accepting the relationship I have with my parents, and indeed the childhood they gave me, and to stop wishing it could be different.
Choosing change has meant thinking really hard about how I parent my children, how I bring them up with the minimum amount of hang ups (at least) to be decent human beings who strive for their own growth, capable of making their own decisions.
Through counselling and parenting I have considered how I have changed and what led me forwards. Considering who I am and who I want to be is in a sense the biggest change of all as I have always been either the product of my childhood, or a mother, but without a real sense of identity or autonomy beyond that.
My search for self has therefore led me to choose change again, this time to embark on what has turned out to be four years of learning about counselling with the initial aim of learning more about myself that had turned into a desire to become a professional counsellor.
What have I learned during these four years?
# to understand how the decisions that my parents made, and theirs before them, informed our family life and my upbringing, and in turn, not just to accept this and stop being angry at them but eventually to forgive them.
# to find, with the person-centred approach, a framework that helped explain how I was who I was and who I was, that made intuitive sense.
# to consider what I actually believe in, morally, ethically, personally, politically etc. To really consider my values and principles, what it is that I choose to consider important that isn’t an introjected view.
# to find, the parallels between the PCA and the child-centred approach that my parenting evolved into and through that external validation come to accept that I am more than a good-enough parent. I still hesitate to say that I am an excellent parent but I am proud of the adults that my children have become and am always grateful for the occasional explicit external validation from them.
# to begin, through pride in parenting, to develop a more positive sense of self, which is where the greatest struggle remains
Choosing change has always seemed to come with immense personal emotional pain, especially when it’s an important change. I accept that it may always be thus but shall not let it stop me seeking growth.