I’m Going to Brush Your Hair
This post is for those fearfully sensing depression creeping in with the season change.
I see you. I hear you. This is real. I’m WITH you. You are not alone.
I see you as the holiday season and the winter months inch toward us.
I see you fearing descent…anticipating the struggle with the darkness.
I see you tending to your heart like a parent tends to a small, hurting child.
Sometimes it is hard, isn’t it? Tending to a hurt child is challenging.
I hear and sense the panic in your voice. You don’t want to spend time with this part again, do you? You want to tell her to get lost. To shut up, already.
Stop whining. Stop making such a big deal out of things. Stop pulling you down. Stop being so sensitive. So easily bothered.
So frustratingly…FEELY. Just STOP it.
Can you see her? Can you see this sad, depressed part?
Close your eyes. How old is she?
9? 12? 6?
What does she look like? Scared? Tired? Maybe, even a little disheveled? Ok, maybe a lot disheveled?
Hair in her face. Unbrushed. Unkempt. Greasy. Hasn’t slept or showered much in days. Barely gotten out of bed. Skinned knees.
Showing up…but showing up hopeless. Dejected.
She’s with you every day, isn’t she?
Sometimes she isn’t as loud.
Some days she doesn’t try to get your attention as much as others.
Other days, she grabs your heart and squeezes the life out of it.
Like a scared little girl, clutching someone’s hand, who isn’t sure anyone will catch her as she is falling.
I’m curious. Is there another part of you here, too? That part that tells this little girl to be quiet? To shut up? A part that says: “Get your shit together, idiot.” “What is WRONG with you, stupid?” “Good grief, you are such a loser. Depressed AGAIN?”
How old is that part? Is that the teenager who finally realized the vulnerability of your childhood wasn’t safe?
Better buck up, work harder, and get harsher? That seems to help things…function.
Too bad functionality doesn’t always equal healthy.
Too bad getting things to WORK isn’t always the same thing as getting things to be WELL.
Man, I feel for that part, too. She is so scared. Her fear shows up differently, but it is just as intense.
Ok. Here is my truth. I have hope for you, friend. I do.
And, here is what I hope you will do.
Here is my HOPE for you in this season of darkness…this season of light AND darkness because the truth is that there is so much LIGHT from the holiday season it can hurt your eyes and make the darkness even more profound.
I hope you will raise up your wise, loving, self- parenting core self.
Put your hand on your heart.
She is there. I promise.
And, you need her.
Probably the first job of that core, wise, loving, parenting self? Let that adolescent part of you know that you are in charge. She doesn’t have to take over.
You hear her. You get her. You get the frustration. You get the angst and anger.
But, she has got to settle down. No name calling. No “shut up”. No “get your shit together”.
No, YOU calm down, adolescent, edgy self.
You aren’t running this show. No house run by a teenager functions very well.
Let’s be clear who is leading this life. YOU are. Your core, wise, inner self. Not that angry, hurt teenager.
Maybe she couldn’t trust someone in the past to lead and take care of things… but she can trust you.
Teenagers have to be told they aren’t in charge every now and then. Even our own internal teenager parts. Houses where the teens are in control are chaotic, edgy and unstable.
(And all the parents of teenagers or who have ever had teenagers said AMEN.)
Now. That little girl. That sweet, hurt, disheveled, exhausted, scared little girl.
The one who wants you to curl up into a ball and stay in bed until someone comes to save her.
It is time to let her know that someone IS coming.
It is time to let her know you are going to take care of her, too. She can trust you.
You aren’t going to lock her up or belittle her. You are listening.
You are holding her like no one else ever has.
Whether she is 9, 12, or 6…what would it be like to wake up in the morning and acknowledge her?
“Good morning, sweetheart. I know you are here with me. And, I am going to get you ready for the day just like a good mom would. I am going to brush your hair. I am going to wash your face. Feed you breakfast. I am going to take care of you. All day. You don’t have to do this alone. You don’t have to be afraid. Or exhausted. You can rest. You can even PLAY! I am going to be the mother you need.”
On days she is more scared than others, you will let her be…scared, tired, worried, sad. You will give her room to cry. You’ll sit with her. You will let her know that so many of her feelings are normal and fine and not scary.
Nothing to belittle. Nothing to shut down.
This part is important, friend. So, so important.
You’ll also let her know that she isn’t in charge either.
You are going to take care of things. You are going to lead and live.
She won’t have to take over because she doesn’t have to. She trusts you to make room for her in ways she never experienced before.
You will have to patiently keep telling the teenager part that she isn’t in charge. That you hear her. That her feelings are valid, but they aren’t running this show.
Or, maybe you experience that part more as a harsh, critical parent. Whatever that scared, rigid, bullying part looks like…she doesn’t have to be in charge.
She doesn’t GET to be in charge.
She can relax. She doesn’t have to get harsh and work harder to keep the younger part from being vulnerable. She can settle down.
And, let you lead. Because you CAN, friend. You CAN. Your wise, core, inner, parenting, self is strong can get stronger. It is there. I promise.
Darkness and light are coming. In this holiday season…and in every season. Over and over and over again. Darkness AND light. Always.
Both bring wisdom. Gifts. Struggle. Challenges. Both call on you to parent yourself well…to lead from your core, wise self. To let your child play and rest. To make room for your teenager to be edgy and mouthy without taking over. And, grace. Darkness and light call on you to open yourself up to lots and lots of grace.
That is my biggest hope for you this season, friend. Lots and lots of grace. I see you. I hear you. This is real. I am WITH you. You are not alone.
***Most times this kind of work is best done with a skilled therapist. Good self-leadership means finding and using the care you need. Don’t talk yourself out of parenting yourself well in that way. Your mental and emotional health need regular checkups, too. If you resonate with this kind of work you might enjoy a therapist who uses a theory called “Internal Family Systems” or some other model that incorporates what is often called “parts work”. Additionally, do not be afraid to talk to your primary care physician about including medication as part of your self-care. That is self-leadership, too. Also, all pronouns in this post are female. I want to acknowledge the very real experience of depression by men, too. Please, change the pronouns to what fits your experience.
Thank you! Again, this really hits home…right now! Sometimes we have to be reminded that all of these feelings are normal. I love reading your posts . I am sure that you help many “see” themselves. It is so hard . It is such a good feeling to know that someone understands and that they are not alone.
Angela, thank you so much for commenting. I am so glad it hit home for you! Yes, feeling seen and heard is incredibly powerful and healing. So very much.
LOVED this! Thank you so much for talking about the sweet, inner child so many of us carry! I have been working with mine a lot lately and this really helped me get a better grasp on how to self-parent and what that convo can look like. So many deep wounds we carry can be healed ever so gently if we have the right tools and guidance. Thank you so much!!
Elizabeth, thank you for these kind comments. I am so glad it resonated with you. I have found both personally and with clients that this can be such powerful…and ONGOING…work.