Do you have emotional pica?

We all have our own emotional childhood trauma. Some of us have differing degrees than others. There are those of us that had a fairy tale childhood, where we got everything we ever wanted and needed and then some. Others had to scrape by, were poor, or had many traumas to work through. However, all of that is relative.

I know perfectly normal people (whatever normal means these days) who had the perfect childhood and yet that is just what it looked like on the surface. They had all they needed and wanted, and yet maybe they did not really get what they needed most — a deep connection to those around them. That happened much later in life for them. Without it you do not always know what you might be missing. For those that had a childhood of heartaches and challenges, they might have learned early on to deal with the shift and feel deeply and in adulthood finally find out what it is like to have a normal life.

I am of the latter variety. I recently read this line from Kim Korson’s book: “I Don’t Have a Happy Place: Cheerful Stories of Despondency and Gloom,” and it was like an aha moment for me: 

“Buzz suffers from a bad case of emotional pica, an insatiable craving to fill himself up with the sand and dirt of childhood he missed out on. It’s draining but (on my compassionate days) I understand it. I roll my eyes while rolling out pizza dough or ordering the piñata because I know what it feels like to be slightly defective. And so when Buzz said to me, ‘Kim, we’re going to Disney World,’ I wanted to politely decline and say there was no way in hell I was making that trip, but I smiled and nodded, then took to the bed, and secretly thought, Good grief.” Page 224

I was pulled in with the mention of emotional pica. We all have some version of it in our life. Chris is great about making sure I fill out my days with things I never got to do as a kid. He is overly conscious of it. I am one to be frugal, say no to something, or say something is not needed or extravagant and he pushes me to pamper myself and do the thing(s) that I never got to do before.

While I hope it is not draining for him to be so conscious of what I lacked in my childhood (does he have my emotional pica?), I do know I can assure him we will not be going to Disney World any time soon.

I can be taken care of. There will be enough.

A quote can sometimes sum up your past, present and maybe even your future. Although probably hard to truly find a quote to sum up a future that has not happened. While reading “The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money, and Miracles” by Marianne Williamson, I came across an idea that sums up an aspect of my childhood. It is hard to walk away from ideas and experiences that were ingrained in your thought and life at such a young age. At times I feel like I am still being chased by this idea:

“’I have an issue about being taken care of. I never think that there will be enough’.” Page 109

Maybe it was because for many years of my life (and my sister’s) we had to fend for ourselves. We were not taken care of. We were the caretakers for my mom, dad, and grandma. So it does not mean that no one cared about us, but it does mean that we were rarely looked after, watched, parented, or cared for in the way we should have been. It took me until I was much older to truly understand that my childhood was not like my peers’. Jumping ahead to adulthood where I have evolved, grown, and become my own person over the years, I still have a hard time with being taken care of. Chris is really the only one in my life that I completely allow in to dote on me in that way. Maybe I am that way because of so many years where I had to figure it out for myself and be creative for how I was going to fend for myself that I have a hard time allowing others to jump in. The sad truth that runs through my mind: They were not there before so why should I expect anyone now?

About their being enough… When there is not enough money in the bank, when you are not allowed to go about normal school activities because you do not have the proper attire, and when you are the recipient of the food bank, you begin to wonder if you will ever have enough from day-to-day. My problem now in adulthood: while I know from the top of my head to the tips of my toes that I have enough, I still have never shed that little birdie on my should that says: “There might not be enough. Save ’cause you never know. Do not get that because you spent too much already.”

I know I have all that I need right now, but I am still learning to let others care for me and I constantly battle that little birdie. Some things never change, but maybe little by little I will wear myself down and change my mantra to: “I can be taken care of. There will be enough.”

It’s a good start.

Happy Birthday, Penelope

My sister is having a big birthday today. It is funny when you think back to when you were a kid, milestone birthdays really mattered. When you turned 16, 18, 21, 30, 40. They do matter, and maybe they always will, but sometimes life just happens and a birthday is just another day. Maybe I feel that way because growing up birthdays and holidays were often a non-event in my life. Real life shit was happening and was often way more important than getting one year older. Due to that fact, I do not put much stock in Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and many other holidays. Often I think we wait for these Hallmark holidays and take those moments to spend time with our family, buy them gifts, or even to pay attention to them. Rather than wait for those dates on the calendar, why not make them important all the rest of the days of the year?

I digress. It is my sister’s birthday. I told you all that back story to say that while she might have too much happening in her life to worry about her birthday I want to share what she means to me.

We have been through a lot together. I will not go into detail, but we had to grow up early and fast, and that does something to a person. My sister spent her teens taking care of me and my mother, and holding my father up in life. She spent a good part of high school never sleeping through the night because my mother needed her (and I was too heavy a sleeper to know otherwise). In so many ways she was a mother before she left high school without ever giving birth. There were times during that period when we fought horribly with each other. Each trying to find our own place in a world where the adults in our life were dropping like flies. Both badly just wanting to be loved, to be held, and to know that somehow everything would turn out okay. That we would be okay. No one was there to tell us that, we only had each other.

As each adult we took care of passed away and our own adult lives began to take shape, I watched my sister become a child again (in a good way). She adventured down many different life courses learning and charting her way. Sometimes creative, others financial, and others to find the stability we did not have for many years. She continues down that path, always curious for a new and engaging endeavor, never willing to stay in something that did not nourish her soul. In addition to all her travels and professional explorations, she has explored writing personally and professionally, taught herself how to cook (we did not learn from our mother, and I still have not learned), and now she has paved the way into motherhood.

I have loved watching her this past year as a new mother. I see that she wants 100 times more for Charlie than she ever had (and I want that for Charlie too). While she is a quiet, gentle mother she is also a rock for her. In some ways I see my mom’s quiet strength come through, always wanting to teach us and understand the context behind something. I know that she will always encourage Charlie to try new adventures, be okay with her being as Punky Brewster as she wants, while also being sure she knows she is loved. As our lives have ebbed and flowed from childhood through college to adulthood, Charlie has helped to bring my sister and I even closer and make our sisterhood even stronger. Wanting to protect a little one makes love fierce and strong, and reminds you of all you already have in life.

Happy Birthday, Penelope.  You are loved, everything will be okay, and I am always here.