She learned that from me (Guest Post by Kim Van Brunt)

She — the girl closer than my skin, the one I love as deep as an ocean and higher than the mountaintops and everything big and bold and bright — she is so much like me that I ache.

Feelings hurt, she explodes back into the house, taking it out on anyone, anything, screaming to diffuse some of the pain twisting her heart.

She learned that from me.

Proud of the outfit she put together, she marches into the van for school, sparkly sequined hat and all, and then just before we pull up to school drop-off she pulls the hat off, casts it aside, smooths her hair, wary.

She learned that from me.

Asking tentatively, because she’s already put it on, if she can wear eyeshadow today because “I want to look pretty today, mama,” and my heart breaks open and I even get a little angry as I repeat “You are ALWAYS pretty, honey,” and not today.

She learned that from me.

And just tonight, when I encouraged her to eat her last bites of dinner because she’s growing and I don’t want her to be hungry later, she says she needs to lose weight because her tummy sticks out too much.

My heart drops completely through the floor, my protective instincts rear up and I want to defend her from this lie, from whoever told her this, from the evil lurking, from the cynicism and pain that’s already knocking at her door — and then I realize that it’s me. It’s me she needs protection from. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned my desire to drop these extra 20 pounds in her presence, because I’m fairly careful, but even if I didn’t say those words, I know:

She learned that from me.

And it all crystallizes: I cannot give her what I do not have. What I do have, I pass on to her whether I mean to or not.

The hardest part? Is that the solution can’t be motivated by her. I have to cultivate self-love and self-compassion from within, and it has to be directed within. She can inspire it, but it can’t be about her. How easy that would be — I would scale that mountain in a day if I knew it was for her. But for it to really be genuine and true, it has to be for me. For me, in me, so that it can naturally flow out of me.

So that when I see her show such amazing empathy for people around her, I can say

She learned that from me.

When she becomes bolder in her choices and surer of her own likes, I’ll guess that maybe

She learned that from me.

When she cares about health because of a respectful relationship with her body and with food, oh how I long to be able to say

She learned that from me.

This — this learning self-love because I cannot afford to be selfish about not caring anymore — this is one of the hardest things I will ever do. But I’m inspired by the love I have for her, and pushed on by the love I see in all of their eyes, love for me, acceptance of me, embracing of me, and I know I’m on step one of a marathon, but I will keep going,

And then the perseverance, the hope and leaning into the pain

She can learn that from me, too.

Kim Van Brunt blogs regularly at kimvanbrunt.com.

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One thought on “She learned that from me (Guest Post by Kim Van Brunt)

  1. Pingback: Guest Post at Chasing Silhouettes - Kim Van Brunt

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