Amy feels like she’s lost herself in all this parenting and busy life thing and she’s deeply unhappy. There are things to do, people to look after… but there’s not much in it just for her. In her therapy, we are on a mission to find her lost self and bring her back so that life will feel like it has some purpose and sparkle.
I ask her about creativity in her life. “I used to paint and draw” she tells me wistfully, “I was really good at it. My mom saw me one day sitting and drawing and she was surprised I drew so well. She bought me pencils and stuff to draw. I loved it.”
Then she tells me how the family split up and money became very tight and she had to get a job, even at 14, to help out and buy things she wanted. So life became serious and there were things to do, people to look after… Drawing was really nowhere on the priority list. What, we wonder, if she starts drawing again as a way of reclaiming that loved younger part of herself that was put on hold when life got serious.
Suddenly her eyes widen, her hands fly up to her mouth and she gasps, “Oh! I projected onto my child so badly the other day!”
Now I hear all sorts of confessions from people and when she said this I thought she was about to tell me how she feels really bad about some incident where she blamed her child for something that she knows is hers. It was something like that, but not quite.
Here’s what she told me:
“As we were leaving a shopping center the other day we passed a store that sells toys and stationary and bric-a-brac. I told my son and husband to go ahead to the car while I popped in to get something for my son. I don’t normally do that, just buy him something, but I felt it would be nice to get him a little gift. So they went off and I entered the store and quickly browsed through. I saw a set of children’s paintbrushes and thought that would be nice so I got it for him. When I got to the car they were waiting for me and I handed my son the paintbrushes with a flourish and said, “That’s for you”. They exchanged a look between them. “You got him paintbrushes?” my husband asked me. I could see they thought it was a strange gift but to me it felt like just the right thing. Now after our talk I can see those paintbrushes weren’t for him at all! I think I need to go home and use them.”
Are you doing anything you’ve been saying is for your children, that is actually for you?
Did either of your parents ever do things “for you” but if you think about it you can see it was actually for them?