After emotional trauma, the main objective can be to reclaim what we have lost from life. Can we remember the parts of ourselves that have been untarnished? It’s worth taking some time to ask ourselves who we were before abuse or the traumatic events? Did someone or many people ask us to be someone other than ourselves? It is essential to take time during the recovery process, during individual counseling sessions, with a support network, or with people we trust, to find the authentic self.
TRANSCRIPT: Finding Yourself after Trauma
Hi everyone, welcome to Thanks for Sharing. I’m your host, Jackie Pack. So in July of 2017 during a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters, the ranking Democrat on the committee, asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin why he hadn’t responded to a letter she had sent him in May requesting information about Trump’s financial ties to Russia. When Mnuchin responded by complimenting the congresswoman for her service to California, Waters chastised him from wasting her allotted time and urged him to answer the question. When he continued to dawdle, Waters responded, “Reclaiming my time.” She repeated the phrase, “Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time.” Until the committee chairman silenced Mnuchin.
Now I chuckled at this at the time. I didn’t find it just funny. I also found it inspiring, though, and there’s been a couple of times since 2017 that I’ve pulled it up and watched it. I was grateful that, as a woman, it was a woman who was calling him out and reclaiming her time from somebody that she thought was wasting it or dawdling with it. Her interaction with Mnuchin inspired a lot of women who feel pushed around to start pushing back, and maybe not just women. Women are not the only ones who are pushed around.
Reclaiming means to regain or to resume possession of something lost or taken. When we talk about reclaiming the self in therapy, which we talk about a lot, one of the questions that we have to answer is who are we reclaiming ourselves from, or who or what took possession of us?
Now if you grew up around chaotic relationships, you may think that chaos is exciting and it’s passionate. You might even believe that chaos is very similar to love or that love is about control, obsession. In a situation like that, safety would feel like boredom. On the other hand, you may have grown up in a home and with a family that was disconnected and disengaged. Closeness to you might feel threatening. Being known would feel invasive, and safety feels empty or alone.
Often our family systems created a need to look for external solutions to our internal problems. This is where addiction and relationship dysfunction enter into our lives. In addictions and other dysfunctions, we’ve lost our way, and in the process of healing and recovering, we need to reclaim what we have lost. This usually requires us to go deep into our pain and the underlying feelings that we have fled from or that we have found external solutions to cover up.
Often I tell clients that you have to allow your littlest boy or girl’s heart to break so that your functional adult self who we are developing in therapy can step in and learn what to do. This is your present self, your wise self. However, often we can’t move away from what we are until we thoroughly accept what we are, what we were, and what we had to be.
Now each of us has an internal narrative about our life, and we use this narrative as a way to see the world and explain it to ourselves. When I’m doing coaching with other therapists, I often will tell them your client’s narrative is the story that they can live with. It may not be accurate. The majority of the time in therapy, in fact, we find that the story is missing some pieces or it had a better outcome than the reality.
Now those in recovery know that we regularly rewrite and retell our story so that it includes new perceptions, understandings, and conclusions. In fact, recent science has revealed that as we do this, as we re-write and re-tell and add to our story accurate information, we appear to actually rewire our brain by building new and more functional neuropathways. Over time as we continue to re-write and re-tell our story to ourselves and to others, it makes sense that we would strengthen and deepen those neuropathways, providing evermore support for our recovery and healing.
Some of those perceptions or understandings about ourselves that we are re-writing or re-telling include things about what do you know about yourself? What speaks to who you are? What is important to you? What do you think about? What are your passions? What makes you smile?
Recovery or therapy is a process of making sense of our life. Now for addicts when they were in the throws of addiction, much of what they did made no sense to others. Often as I’ve talked to clients who have dealt with addiction in their lives, they will acknowledge that it made no sense even to themselves, and by the time they were ready for recovery and they were willing to commit to therapy, their whole life no longer made sense to them. This is often the case as well for those who experience childhood trauma. Their feelings, their actions, their behaviors, what they do and don’t do often make no sense to others, and it’s a mystery to them.
Now there are some concrete ways to do this, make sense of our life. I’ve had more than a few clients ask people in their lives that knew them or knew their family. They’re asking them questions. They’re interviewing them to get information that maybe they lost ahold of or they forgot that they knew. Sometimes they didn’t know this information.
For me, this process of interviewing people around me actually left me with more questions than I had answers for, and so that wasn’t necessarily beneficial for me, although it was telling to me that a lot of the people that I was asking some of these questions to didn’t know or didn’t have answers or didn’t even ask the question themselves, and so that was good for me to know that I come from a story where people don’t really know the story.
Another concrete step that I think we often overlook is asking ourselves, taking our own inventory. Oftentimes in therapy, we start to open up to what we don’t know that we actually know and to what we don’t know that we don’t know. We’re open to answers that before would have been too much or scared us or kept us running.
So a big part of therapy is to start to make sense of all of this, and I think that process continues as long as healing and recovery are maintained. Even when the truth is difficult and painful, facing it sheds light on the past, and it allows us to increase our awareness about reality, the reality we’re living in, the reality that we came from. This awareness can move us into insight, acceptance, openness, responsibility, and accountability.
In therapy, it’s common when healing from trauma and attachment wounds to do both a trauma egg and then an angel egg. So a trauma egg, if you haven’t heard of that, I think both the trauma egg and the angel egg were developed by Marilyn Murray. So the trauma egg, ideally when I’m working with clients, I like to get some of those big like poster paper post-it note kind of things, poster paper size, and we draw an egg on it, and I have them start, I usually have them start in the lower left-hand corner of this egg-shaped oval that they have drawn, and they start to… how am I explaining this because you can’t see me? So they’re writing out the different traumas, so typically this is taking a trauma timeline and putting it into something that’s drawn.
So they’re starting with maybe their earliest memory. Sometimes clients are doing it in a timeline, and oftentimes they’re organizing it in other ways, but this is a way of organizing the data that they have. So they’ll draw a simple, some kind of picture that goes along with the memory, and then they draw kind of a little parenthesis-type shape over it so that’s encapsulated, and then they go to the next one and they draw that and encapsulate it. They draw, and they keep going until they’ve gone through their entire trauma timeline.
Then I have them in the left-hand corner write out three to five adjectives that describe dad, and in the bottom right-hand corner, three to five adjectives that describe mom, and then at the top, above the egg that they’ve drawn, I have them write out, based on this trauma timeline, what is the mission statement that you received? This is usually something negative in their life or something that has become for them a personal negative belief about themselves and that they’ve started to carry out in their life.
So we start to create this awareness around it. Now that can be an overwhelming activity to do. I’ve done my own trauma egg, and I don’t even know how many trauma egg sessions I’ve sat in, whether it was in individual therapy or in group therapy, but people start to connect to it. There starts to be awareness, acceptance, insight that starts to come from doing a trauma egg.
Now on the other hand, we do an angel egg, and so again, similar outline. We draw kind of on a bigger piece of paper, we draw an egg-shaped oval, and this one is our angel egg. Again, starting at the bottom, we start to draw experiences. So again, a symbol, stick figure kind of thing doing something to that effect of moments in their life that were meaningful. Maybe they were experiences. Maybe they were places or people in their life that made them feel calm, collected, secure, comfortable, connected, empowered, or when you experience growth and acceptance.
Now usually these are experiences where there was maybe some profound joy or serenity, feelings of well-being or of being understood, being known, being seen and being part of something bigger. So I encourage clients to think of times when they were happy, when you felt carefree, spontaneous, at ease, or when something wonderful was happening and you were a part of it.
Then in the bottom left-hand corner, I have them write three to five core traits about themselves, and then in the bottom right-hand corner, I have them write three to five strengths that they possess, and then at the top of that, again what is your chosen mission statement?
Now for me, by the age of two, I was mothering whatever I could find. My mom used to tell stories that when we went grocery shopping, she always had to go to the produce department first and get me a bunch of bananas that I would then cradle and hold as though it was my baby, and then I would behave the whole rest of the shopping trip. I was fine as long as she started with the bunch of bananas, put it in my hands.
When I was young at my Grandma McAdams’ condo, I was outside exploring, and I found a rock that was just right for me to hold as my own baby. My grandma let me take it home with me, and my mom would tell me that I carried it everywhere. I would wrap it in a blanket and rock it. I had a little rocking chair that was my size, and I would rock it and hold this rock and kiss it, until one day my mom thought she was being helpful, and she drew a face on the rock. I can still in my head picture the face that she drew, and I was upset. I was mad. She said that I was so upset I just kind of walked away from the rock and stopped mothering it and really didn’t have much to do with it after she had done that.
As I got older in my teen years, I didn’t want kids. I didn’t back then really understand why. I just knew I didn’t want kids. When I would hear my mom tell those stories of me as a small girl or even see pictures of my younger self with that rock all wrapped up in a blanket and me rocking it in that small rocking chair, it was hard to connect with that part of me, that part of me that I had been.
Years later, as an adult and a therapist and a mom and wife, when I learned about the angel egg and did my own trauma egg and angel egg, there was this person on my angel egg. I always had remembered him. It’s not like it just kind of manifested when I was doing this. It’s not like I had forgotten about him, but he was a part of my early childhood memories. He was a babysitter I had as a young girl, and I would often say he was the older brother I never had but always wanted. I had so many good memories with him and of him.
A lot of the memories I have… so at that time, my house… behind the house that I grew up in, there was a field. It was just open. Eventually, probably maybe by the time I was 12 or 9 even, that field was sold and it was developed and houses were built and all of that kind of stuff, but when I was young, when we moved there, it was just a big field. So there were a lot of times where when he was babysitting me and my older sister, those are the memories I have. Me, my older sister, and him, we would go out and we would explore in the field. I have so many memories of being outside with him when he was in charge of us.
I also have memories of just singing songs. I remember just memories of just all three of us kind of singing at the top of our lungs to songs that he had introduced us to. I think most of them that I at least recall that we would sing were kind of popular songs of the time that would have been on the radio or that he had the record album to, and we would play those and we would sing these ballads, and we would just sing these songs.
I also have memories of him doing my hair. Like many little girls, I did not enjoy the process of having my hair done, unless my babysitter was doing it, and I just recall he would just put my hair in all these different ponytails, usually more than the typical one or two that little girls had their hair in, and regardless of how he did my hair, I always felt amazing when he did my hair.
I also remember this particular bedtime story. I don’t know if he always told it at bedtime, but I remember it would be like a bedtime story that he would tell us, and it has such a great beginning, and then it just kind of goes nowhere, which was kind of the fun part of the story, and so it starts out, I’ll tell you because I still remember this to this day. It starts out and it says, this is what he would say to us, me and my sister as we’re like intently listening to him, hanging on every word that he would tell us.
The story starts out: It was a dark and stormy night, and a ship was out to sea, and the captain said, “Jack my boy, tell us a story.” So Jack began, “It was a dark and stormy night, and a ship was out to sea,” and the captain said, “Jack my boy, tell us a story.” So Jack began…” and it just repeats itself. But isn’t that such a great beginning? We would always sit there hoping he had more to the story this time, and it was just one of those stories that just was a loop and just repeated itself, and I never knew what story Jack was telling, except the same story that started Jack telling the story.
I also remember one time my mom’s siblings… so I think it was my mom, maybe my dad, I don’t remember if my dad was there, and her siblings. So my mom came from a family of six just like me, and my mom was the oldest. So we all went hiking up Mount Timpanogos. Mount Timpanogos is this pretty big mountain in Utah County. It’s a pretty I would say maybe moderate hike, and we all went, and I remember making my babysitter, his name was Jerry, I remember making Jerry carry me. It was Jerry and then his younger brother, Doug, and then my aunts and uncles and my mom, and again I don’t remember if my dad was there, and my sister who was two years older than me. I remember it was hard, and I pretty much got worn out the first little bit of the hike, and so I insisted that Jerry carry me, and from what I recalled, he did. He totally carried me most of the hike.
Now years later, when I was in sixth grade, I was at kind of a summer camp but it was only a month, so not the whole summer. I was at summer camp with a friend of mine, and the last… we did like these little hikes, not hard, pretty short hikes, and they kept telling us that we were getting ready to do a bigger hike at the end of the camp, and so at the end of the camp, we hiked up Mount Timpanogos.
Now when I went with my family and with Jerry and made Jerry carry me, we were going up the front side of Timp, and so it’s from what I remember, it’s been years since I’ve done this hike, it’s kind of a paved trail. Again it doesn’t make it super easy, but it’s a little bit easier hike than if you’re going up the back side of Timp.
So when I was in sixth grade, that summer we did the back side of Mount Timpanogos, and I just remember that hike. I knew it was a little bit harder than the front side of Timp, but I just remember thinking like, oh my gosh, I made somebody carry me up this hike. This is a hard hike, and I made somebody carry me.
So I have that memory with him, and then just this… This isn’t necessarily a memory, although I can… he’s one of those people that when he smiles, he smiles with both his mouth and his eyes, and I could always picture his smile, but along with picturing that kind of that picture memory, I also had this feeling memory of how seeing him smile made me feel, and it just made me feel like everything was good. Life was great. I was fine. I was secure, and we were going to have a good day.
Now he was only in my life for a couple of years, and then he and his family moved away. I would sometimes talk about him over the years. Obviously, my older sister remembered him, and she was in a lot of my memories with him, and my mom of course remembered him. My mom had actually been his schoolteacher. That’s how he was introduced into our life. My mom taught at the elementary school where he was going to school, and in the kind of the town that we lived in, she taught at that elementary school, and so he was one of her students. So she of course remembered him. My younger siblings didn’t really remember him, but they would hear us talk about him from time to time, so they more knew of him, but didn’t necessarily have memories of him.
Then as I got older, I didn’t really talk about him anymore. I remembered him, but I didn’t necessarily talk about him, and that one song that I associated with him the most, there were a couple of songs that I can still to this day can remember, and I know that he was the one that taught them to us, but there was one song in particular that whenever I played it… My mom had the album, the record album. Eventually I had the cassette tape, and I still to this day have it on my phone. It’s a John Denver song. I’m a huge John Denver fan, and probably a lot of that is due to my babysitter Jerry. There was this one particular song, “Sunshine on My Shoulders.”
Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high
So when I played this song, it brought back memories of him, and even more than memories, like I said, it brought back the feelings I had about me when he was around, feelings that made me smile, that reassured me, that made me sentimental, and they always made me feel expansive is the word that I’ve used. I don’t really know a better word for it, but it made me feel open and expansive and like I could do anything.
Again those aren’t necessarily the lyrics of the song, but that’s how that song always made me feel, and I kind of had this one memory that I would maybe pinpoint. I don’t think it was like in this memory we were listening to this song, but I have this memory that goes along with that song, being outside. My house had been built and then we moved into it, and at the time we moved into it, there was no yard, and so I’m sure, much to my parents’ chagrin, I loved playing in the water and making mud, and so I just have this memory of playing with the garden hose, watching the water and making mud.
There’s not a memory of me like playing the mud or anything like that, but just playing with the water in my tank top and my shorts, and again the sun would have been on my shoulders, and anytime I kind of just get that glimpse, it’s hardly a memory, it’s just kind of a glimpse of a memory, and that song, I just feel like everything is fine. It’s just a calming, reassuring feeling that I get.
When I was young, I used to wonder if our paths would ever cross again, if somehow, someday chance would like put us in each other’s path again, and I was certain that I would recognize him. Well six years ago this month actually, December, my mom unexpectedly passed away. She was 68 when she died, and we think she died of a blood clot. Like I said, it was unexpected, and she passed away on December 30.
After getting through the funeral and all of the things that go along with death initially that you have to tend to, those of my siblings that were living here in Utah, so four of the six were living here in Utah, we started going through the house. My mom and dad moved into this house when I was three years old, so that’s 1973, and then my mom passed away the end of 2014, so she had always lived in that house since then, and there was a lot to go through. If you’ve ever had to do this, then you know what this process entails. It’s a necessary part of getting the home ready to sell and move forward, and it’s so much more than that.
My mom was also a saver, and she had filing cabinets, and they were full of papers and different things like that, and as me and my siblings would sit in a room and we’d go through it and try to empty it, we’d go through every single thing. Sometimes you’d open something and think, oh there’s nothing in here that we need. I mean, my mom had the original loan paperwork from 1973. I’m thinking to myself in 2014, how in the world is this needed or necessary or helpful? But we had it.
And so you might start out thinking like, oh this is all just garbage. It just needs to go. And then you’d find one, two, maybe three things that you actually needed from that pile. So when the next pile came and you thought that it was all just unnecessary and didn’t need to be looked at, the last one had taught you there were three things that were necessary, so you’d go through paper by paper and piece by piece of everything in that house.
So my siblings and I worked on this every Saturday. We started not the first Saturday in January, but the second Saturday in January, and we would spend about five or six hours every Saturday through mid-May. So four of us working for five or six hours every Saturday for four months. That was a lot of time, and then there were some nights during the week if we had time that we’d get together and again do some of the work, and a lot of times our spouses would come and help, but they didn’t really know what to go through, and again this process was so much more than just going through stuff.
So we were going through all of this stuff, and we had finished the upstairs and we were down in the basement, and we were actually going through the room that was my room when I was a little kid and had been my room until I moved out of the house. So I moved down when my younger two brothers were born, so the two after me. When my second brother was born, my older sister and I moved downstairs to that basement bedroom.
So that had been my bedroom since I was six until I moved out at 19, and then when my youngest two siblings, brother and sister, were born, then my two brothers moved from their room upstairs down into… for a while, they were in the room next to us, but then eventually they moved into what was my old bedroom.
So it had changed. It wasn’t a girls room anymore. It was a boys room. But I remember sitting there on the floor of their bedroom, on the carpet, going through this box, and my other siblings and all sitting there going through boxes, and I came across my babysitter’s wedding invitation that probably would have been in the 80s. I don’t remember the date on it, but it probably would have been in the 80s, and for the first time…
I had this maybe like I’m going to come across his path someday. Maybe chance or something random is just going to happen, and our paths will cross, and that was kind of where that had left. It had never crossed my mind that I could look for him on social media. I think just because my memories of him were early in my childhood when like the internet and social media was like not even a thing. It had just never crossed my mind to look for him on social media until that moment.
So I’m sitting there on the basement floor, and I’m thinking, why haven’t I looked for him? So I picked up my phone, and I opened Facebook and I did a quick search for his name, and up pops him. I immediately recognized him. I recognized his eyes. I recognized that smile, and I sent him a message through Facebook and just said, hey, I don’t know if you remember me, and this is what’s happened, and this is currently what’s going on, and I just thought of you. I sent him a friend request, and then I basically sent him that message.
Then I put my phone away and got back to work and went through what we needed to get done that day. By the time I got back to my house after leaving my mom’s house, he had responded. He had accepted my friend request, and he had responded, and he had said to me, oh my gosh, I can’t believe that you remember me, to which I’m thinking, remember you? I have vivid memories of you. You were a significant part of my life, and I don’t remember what else he said in the message, and then he basically said, hey, can we arrange a phone call?
I think at the time he was sitting at an airport when he got my message with his mother, gave her the news that my mom had passed away, so we got on the phone that night, and I don’t recall, maybe like an hour conversation, him telling me kind of where he was in his life, me basically this is where I am, this is married, kids, just kind of different aspects of our life, what he did for work, what I did for work. He asked some questions about what had happened and how my mom died and some different things like that. We had a phone call, and we said let’s keep in touch.
So, you know, I mean a couple of texts every now and then, nothing major, but he was basically back in my life, and my sister, my older sister, so he obviously knew her, she lived out of state, and so she was going to be in town. It was like in the springtime of that year, she was going to be in town, and so I had reached out and texted him and said, hey, my sister Tammy is going to be in town. She would love to see you, I would love to see you, would it work for the three of us to get together and go to lunch? He responded, of course. I would love to do that. We set up a time, we set up a day, we set up a place that we would meet.
So we get to this time. I left work. It wasn’t a far drive from my office, and so I get to the restaurant that we were going to meet at, and he pulls up and gets out of his car, and I was just kind of getting out of my car at the same time, and of course I just recognized him. I would know that face, I would know him anywhere. We gave each other a hug. I had gotten a text from my sister saying she was running a little bit late, so we went into the restaurant, got a place to eat, we’re just going to wait for her to get there before we ordered and stuff.
So I was asking him, we’re just kind of talking a little bit. I was asking him, “I don’t know what the age difference is from me to you, and I said I don’t even remember how old I was when you babysat me.” I told him, I said, “In my memory, I think I was six and seven years old.” He said, “Oh well that explains why you think you remember me.” He said, “No, you were three and four years old.” Which at the time really kind of confused me. I didn’t think that I was that young or even that I had memories from that young of an age. I said to him, “Well maybe all of these memories that I’ve associated with you I just kind of randomly associated with you, but they’re not actually connected to you.”
He said, “Well this is why I’m so surprised that you remembered me because again, you were three and four years old.” Which really would have made my sister five and six, so even she was fairly young. He said, “Well what memories do you have?” So of course, where I started, I told him, I said, ‘Well I remember this story.” And he kind of got a little smile in his eyes, and I said, “It was a dark and stormy night, and a ship was out to sea…” and he kind of started chuckling, and he said, “Oh yeah, that’s me. That’s me. I would tell you guys that story.”
I said, “Yeah, and I remember these songs, and I think you taught us these songs.” So I started naming the songs, and he was like, “Yeah, yeah, I did teach you guys those songs. We would sing them and just belt them out.” I said, “Yeah, and then I have this memory of you, I feel a little bit better if I was only three and four years old, but I have this memory of you and your brother coming to hike Mount Timpanogos with my aunts and uncles and stuff.” And he nodded and said, “Yeah, yeah that was me.” And I said, “And I made you carry me the better part of the whole way up there?” And he was like, “Yeah, yeah you did.”
I said, “How old were you?” And he said, “Well I was ten and eleven.” Which also kind of took me back a little bit because that’s really young, and he was a profoundly significant positive influence in my life, and he was telling me on that particular hike, he said, “Yeah, there were times I got tired.” I’m like, “Yeah, of course you did. You’re carrying me. Even though I was three and four, a three and four year old, they’re heavy when you’re climbing, and you…”
He said, “I would ask other people to take a turn carrying you because you were not going to walk or hike, but nobody really wanted to.” And inside I’m just like, oh my gosh, the safest person in my life was a 10-year-old boy. Where were these…? My aunts and uncles were older than that. I mean my youngest aunt would have been like 13, 14, but still, that’s older than 10. Some of my uncles would have been teenagers. If my dad was there, certainly he should have felt some responsibility for me, and yet he didn’t.
So we got to talk I don’t know how long. My sister came, and we started talking and just going down memory lane and talking about different things, and he had questions. I remember him telling us, he said, “When your mom hired me to babysit, she told me, ‘I don’t care what the house looks like. I don’t care if it’s messy. I don’t care what you guys do. I don’t care what you guys eat. Your job is to make these two girls happy.’ And I remember thinking to myself, looking at how young you were, three and five, why aren’t these girls happy?”
I don’t know that I wasn’t happy. I was definitely happy whenever Jerry was in my life and whenever he would come. I remember my mom sometimes telling me that like on a weekend or something if they were going out that she would get a different babysitter besides Jerry because she would say Jerry needs a break. He’s with you guys all the time, and I was so offended, like a break? Why would he need a break from me?
So he did. I said, “Well you did your job. You made us very happy.” And as we talked, he shared that he was aware at 10 and 11 years old that my parents had a really unhealthy and dysfunctional marriage, and as we shared they had been married 28 years when they divorced, he was surprised they made it 28 years, and I said, well not without some scars. That marriage left scars on all of us.
It was just so good to reconnect with him and have him back in my life and to be able to have some of those conversations. I’ve been really blessed a couple of times I think just… I don’t know if it’s blessed, I don’t know if it’s chance, but to have conversations with people who were able and capable… not that they always know. I can’t necessarily… I mean, I could interview them. I basically did with Jerry, but he was 10 and 11 so his information was somewhat limited, but to be able to go back and to talk to him about some of those things and hear him talk about my mom. Like I said, she was his schoolteacher.
My mom when she was a schoolteacher, she usually taught fourth grade and sixth grade. There was a brief time period I think two years that she taught kindergarten, but typically she taught the older grades, fourth grade or sixth grade, so growing up I could never remember how that all worked with Jerry and what age he was when she taught him. She was his fourth grade teacher, and so just kind of putting some things together and being able to say like, yep, that part of my timeline lines up, or this part of my timeline had to be adjusted. There were things that had to be adjusted.
But after talking to him, like I said, I’ve had that John Denver song “Sunshine on My Shoulders” on my phone since I’ve had phones that could hold music and be the same thing as an mp3 player, and there is this one verse that… well, there’s two verses actually. So the first one says:
If I had a day that I could give you
I’d give to you the day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I’d sing a song to make you feel this way
If I had a tale that I could tell you
I’d tell a tale sure to make you smile
If I had a wish that I could wish for you
I’d make a wish for sunshine for all the while
And I think I knew that. I think I knew going forward in my life that Jerry wanted me to be happy, and that if he could, he would make me happy because he did for the two years that he was in my life. Sometimes our biological family our family of origin, may not always be able to provide the kind of modeling that we needed or the nurturing that we needed, the love we needed. So in recovery we decide to supplement our family of origin with a family of choice, a collection of surrogate relatives that we choose to have in our life.
It might be a mother or father figure, a mentor, a sibling you never had, a best friend, an uncle or an aunt. Often after my clients have done a trauma egg and then done an angel egg, I’ll say to them, “So what did you have? Now that you have an accurate inventory, what did you have, and what didn’t you have, and where is your family of choice? Where do you need them to be?” And we start to become creators of what we longed for and what we deserved.
Angie Viets, a clinical psychotherapist and eating disorder specialist, asks this question: “Consider who you were before you were being asked to be anything other than just you, before life and hurt and loss got in the way.” Who were you? For me, the things that come up, I was carefree. I was spontaneous, spunky, daring, loving, open, trusting. I had to ask myself, how do I reclaim those things so that I can be that again? And that’s been a lot of the work I’ve done as an adult and that I think I will continue to do in many ways and in many paths of my life going forward.
What are you reclaiming? Who were you before you were being asked to be anything other than just you?