By Jenny Chapman
What is it that makes us feel welcome? Does it come from the way others treat us, or from our own sense of self acceptance? I think it comes from both. We need a level of self-acceptance to sit comfortably with the acceptance of others.
Last year my world crashed around me as I dove into a black pool of depression and self-rejection. I isolated and gave up on myself, my work, my friends and my lover. Every day, and this was the worst because I could see myself doing it, I rejected my son and his needs. I spent days in bed and did not want my son around. Not because I didn’t love him, but because I felt I had nothing to give him, and to be awfully honest, I preferred most times to have my head in a book. I palmed him off to friends, family and his father, much more than was necessary. But being a single mum, he was around—and had to wear whatever I dumped on him. He was not welcome, and though I tried to mask it, in his own four year old way he knew it. The memory of it horrifies me.
Slowly his behaviour changed as his sense of being welcome and accepted diminished. Nothing changed about his needs, but his sense of freedom to come and go in my presence obviously started fading. He became more wary; not knowing if or when he would be pushed away. He became clingy. He changed to being more ‘contrary’ and behaving from a base of frustration and uncertainty rather than contentment. He changed to inappropriate attention-seeking behaviours. (And I wallowed in exhaustion, sadness and guilt.)
Thankfully I have been learning ways of coping that suit our little family. First and foremost was to heal the fractures of the bond between my son and I. I am so thankful for the resilience that is in a child. I’ll share another time, how I have discussed depression with him. We enjoy a wonderful intimate relationship again now.
Through my experience I learned that one of the most important things we can do for our children’s self esteem is make sure they know they are 'welcome' in our home, our workplace...our personal space. It MATTERS. Our facial expressions and body language, MATTER. That their company is welcome, MATTERS. And, knowing that we want to be in their company, MATTERS. It’s not always easy, I am the first to admit.
Welcome=acceptance=self acceptance. I think it's the foundation of our 'social needs' as human beings. I think that this early sense of feeling ‘welcome’ as a child, becomes the foundation of our own self-acceptance, and avoids that gnawing, insatiable ‘need’ that many of us experience, leading us to make all sorts of choices and behaviours that invariably leave us, still wanting, in fragmented relationships and communities.
Be welcome. A magical element of being alive and part of an amazing world.
Be welcome to our Barefoot community, where our passion for parenting, community and our earth mingle together in words, provoking thought and discussion.
Be welcome, to read each others' stories of life, love, loss, and laughter.
Be welcome. Welcome to read, share, comment (please do!)