As we dive into our series on connection, I thought I might share a recent post I made on social media. We have many more of you reading this newsletter, so it provides me with an opportunity to help you get to know me. As professionals, we strive to keep our personal and professional lives separate; but often it makes us feel inaccessible. People wonder how I could relate to what they’re going through. Or, people wonder why I LOVE working with children. We all carry stories. We all have experiences we’ve gone through that shape us as experts. As it relates to connection and its importance, especially one-to-one connection, here is my story.
I still remember my six-year-old self, staring out the window, holding my Holly Hobbie suitcase, waiting for my biological father to arrive. I was restless and wiggly and excited for him to pull into our driveway. My parents divorced when I was just 1 1/2 years old and I lived with my mom and step-dad, Jack. Friday nights was his night to pick me up every other week.
5pm became 6pm. Every car that whizzed by was a hope of his arrival. 6pm became 6:30 and soon my mom came up to me and whispered softly, “I don’t think he’s coming sweetie.”
Again, I thought. Disappointed again.
My mom said in a reassuring tone, “Don’t worry. We’re so lucky. Daddy Jack and I love having more time with you. Let’s have dinner and watch a movie and read books.” She made me feel like she was secretly hoping for extra time with me and reframed my disappointment and rejection into an opportunity for connection.
The experience of rejection and missed opportunities with my father was not new and continued most of my childhood. Always, my mom and step-dad would scoop me up, pick up all of the sad, broken pieces and assemble me back together. Eventually, I would make the decision to cease visits with my father and Jack became my dad in every way.
The connection I had with my mom and dad, Jack, is immeasurable in terms of the resilience it created for me. To be wanted, truly wanted, as a child is the greatest gift of security.
When people ask me why I became a psychologist, my experiences growing up shaped who I am today. When I look at children, I truly “see” them – and I am committed to helping them feel known and loved and cared for. So, I work with parents and professionals to ensure that every adult knows how to build resilience in children through connection. And, so that every adult knows it’s not too late to repair themselves and heal if they did not grow up knowing this type of connection.
Some reflections for you:
With whom do you connect with meaningfully?
Who shaped how you connect with others?
Is there trauma you carry with you that prevents you from connecting?
Have you had to re-learn how to connect because of early childhood traumas?
Who is your role model for connection?
Are you learning how to connect with your child?
And importantly, did you know it’s never too late to learn how to connect? We can break cycles and create new, meaningful connections.
I’d love to hear from you. Your story of connection or your story of triumph to find connection after not receiving it as a child. I’d love to hear about barriers to connection too. This will guide our series on connection. Let’s dive in friends – bravely, together.
P.S. If you’re interested in breaking cycles of toxic parenting, I hope you join me and Hayley Runnels of The Undone Mama. It’s never too late to reset and heal.