I look at this photo, and it reminds me of some very happy childhood memories. That’s my younger brother, Don, and I perched up on the front of our folks’ car. I’m guessing we were probably 3 and 5, or maybe 4 and 6.
We loved going to this farm! It belonged to our great aunt and uncle — Aunt Annie and Uncle Homer. They were two of the sweetest, most loving people, you could imagine. When we were there, we were constantly exploring and having great adventures.
That’s the first thing I think of when I look at this photo. Then I look at it, and I think about how young and innocent we both were. We had no idea at that time how our family would be turned upside down a few years later.
I look at the little girl in this photo, and I think about how trusting she was that life would stay happy, and that the adventures and fun would continue. It wasn’t to be. When I was 12, and my brother was 10, our mom had what they classified then as a complete nervous breakdown. She was hospitalized, and with the exception of short visits, she was not a part of our daily life, the rest of our growing up time.
We didn’t have a bad life. We always had a roof over our heads, plenty of food to eat, and loving people around us. But there were radical changes in our day-to-day life. I had to instantly grow up. I had a younger brother to help look after, and household chores to do. We were alone quite a bit. Our dad worked nights, and had to sleep in the day. I think my brother and I were pretty sad and lonely a lot of the time.
More changes came after awhile. Our parents divorced. Mom, for the most part, regained her emotional health. Both remarried, and each had another child. Mom wound up moving to California, while we stayed back in Illinois, with our dad and stepmother.
The reason I’m sharing all of this with you is because it’s important for all of us to have a sense of caring and compassion for our younger selves. I’m sure that there must be some who have had picture-perfect childhoods, but that isn’t true for many, or maybe most, of us. Our childhoods mold and shape the adults that we later become.
Think about yourself as a young child. Imagine pulling your young child-self closer to you, and whispering your love and acceptance of her/him. Cherish that young, innocent being that you were. Recognize your wonderful qualities, and celebrate your resilience and victory over any adversity you might have experienced.
You’re here today. You have a purpose for being. All of the past ages you’ve been have carried you forward into this time and place. You matter! You’ve always mattered!
Until next time,
Thank you Linda. I greatly appreciate your post.
Thank you, Amy! I’m glad it came across okay to you. I think having compassion for our younger selves is an important concept. It can make a big difference to our sense of self today.
Oh, Linda, what a poignant, touching post…I so appreciate your authenticity and courage in sharing such a painful childhood experience. Knowing that, I admire you even more for the empathy you bring forward in supporting so many others to accept and love those younger, hurt parts of themselves with compassion, so they can move onward and create the lives and relationships they dream of. Bless your service!!!
Thank you, Teri, for such a glowing, loving response to this post! I very much appreciate it.
What a fantastic insight you have shared and also opened up for us. Your elegantly simple retelling of your young life, paired with a darling photo, is a fine example of simply looking at what happened, honoring the past, and being open to the thoughts, feelings, and lasting effects, from that looking. I remember coming across a photo of myself–probably age 10-11, in my ranch clothes of cowboy shirt, jeans, boots, braided hair, holding a kitten (or two!) from the barn–and instantly remembering that solid happy feeling of a younger me. I look forward to getting to know my younger me a bit better. Thank you so much!
Thank you so much for your kind words, Danielle! I’m glad that this post touched you, and helped you connect to the younger you. I think it’s an excellent idea to spend some time getting to know that part of you. Your memory connected with your photo sounds like a very happy memory, and deserves to be honored. It can be very important to recognize how our experiences in childhood have impacted who we are today.
What a fascinating introspection Linda. It’s fun to look back and think about how I was back then.
Thank you, Lynn! I’m glad you enjoyed it. We all grow and change with passing time and varied experiences.