"Everyone's deepest need is just to be seen and heard and to know that they've made a difference in the world."
I think we all remember the moment when we stopped being the obedient child, we stepped into adulthood and began to parent ourselves. It's that pivotal moment when you finally put your needs and the needs of your family before the limiting beliefs adopted in your childhood.
For me, that shift occurred a blustery winter morning in January of 1991. I had just moved back home to my parent's house in the midwest after living in southern California for a few years. An emotional divorce had left me with few financial resources or the energy to try and make my way without any real support system. I felt like a total failure and I was terrified to ask my parents if they would take me in. But my need for security and safety forced me to throw my pride in the trash and go home with my tail between my legs.
It had been a hasty engagement driven by the desire to finally feel safe and protected by a man whom I loved. He was also the first man I had ever dated that my father approved of. He was smart, athletic, confident and came from a long line of military men. No one blinked an eye at our quick walk down the aisle or the fact that I was barely 21. This was my journey to explore alone.
Relationships are never one-sided. Regardless of the dynamic, it always takes two people to thrive in a marriage or destroy it. Details aside, I left that marriage replete of any self-confidence, in fear for my sanity, and convinced that I was unworthy of any kind of love.
So on the cold January morning, my father finally decided to ask me why I left the marriage. In his eyes, I was a quitter and my dad hated quitters. As I began to describe the emotional and verbal abuse I endured he turned to me and said, "Well you must have done something to deserve it."
I was speechless. Although I was aware that I had contributed to this divorce, I didn't believe that any person should have to withstand the humiliation and degradation that became the norm towards the end of our marriage.
Then, almost as if a veil lifted off my dad, I saw a little boy sitting in that big easy chair. He was no longer my dad shaming me for my failed marriage. He was a little boy, looking at me, almost pleading with me, wondering what he did to deserve to be shamed and verbally abused. It was a grace-filled, magical moment when in an instant I finally understood why my dad was the parent he was. He was parenting the only way he knew how; exactly how he was raised by his parents.
My heart broke open for him. I knew right then that I had a choice to make. I could write my dad off and limit my relationship with him or I could choose to love this broken, little boy who was just trying to do the best he could, the only way he knew how.
I coach because I believe that at the very core, everyone's deepest need is to be seen and heard and to know that they've made a difference in the world. It is my honor to hold a non-judgmental space for my clients where they are free to interact with their own little boy or girl, to face their fears in a safe, nurturing space.