Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The Scarecrow of Oz - Or The Validation And Acceptance Of The Child

The Scarecrow Of Oz

This page is part of a course taken at The Recovery College
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I always knew I had a brain. Sometimes this led to arrogance. A feeling of smug superiority that my intellect was amazing.

Sometimes. But I knew it was wasted too.

They taught me at school to waste my brain. They taught me that my academic abilities were a burden to others. Over and over they told me not to shine. To be only quite clever.

They held me back. I was forced to push myself beyond the boundaries they set me. They didn't appreciate that. And if I happened to make an error in that wide wonder space beyond they slapped me back with full force.

They slapped me so much that I accepted their ways. I did only what was necessary to pass the exams they set. Nothing more. Because I knew they didn't want more. Most of them anyway.

As an adult I've been frustrated by this. Once you've intentionally switched much of your brain off and done your best to kill it it's very difficult to switch it on again. I still haven't succeeded and it's painful that my brain cannot do the things that it can do.

I think this was one of the factors in developing mental health problems as a child. It was a part of my crushing, my annihilation at the hands of the world. Just one part of having to be someone else and reject me.  How's that for an over-dramatic paragraph?!

You're right of course.  It is.  Yet it looks more and more like I have a disorder that comes about often through a combination of having a biologically based emotional sensitivity with growing up in an invalidating environment.  It wasn't that I had bad parents.  There was just invalidation based around that innate sensitivity, around my academic ability, around gender and probably around much more.  My parents did their best of course.  They weren't abusing me or anything like that.  Nevertheless the invalidation was there and it contributed to problems I now have and certain problems that I'm only just accepting I have.  More of that in a later post.

My functional brain – that just so happened to function well in the particular direction that can pass exams and sail through IQ tests – became dysfunctional.

The message here is not just to let clever children be clever to their full potential.  IQ and academia aren't the points here.  They don't make you into a superior person except in the world of IQ and academia, which we all know isn't the be all and end all of life.  Recently I've been working on a project with some learning disabled adults.  Great people.  Who just happen to have learning disabilities of various kinds.  The message here relates to them just as much as it might relate to me.

It's to let children be their own wondrous selves to their full potential. To encourage them in selfness.

The Bible says to “raise up a child in the way they should go.” Christians and Bible translations have so often got this wrong. They try to force a way upon the child – that the child should be a Christian too. That's the opposite of what the proverb says. The Hebrew is more concerned with “raise up a child in accordance with the pattern of their own character and attributes.”

That is, whoever the child is, encourage them – as long as love governs the encouragement and the child's actions.

It's not forcing our own hopes and aspirations on our children.

It's not imposing a religion or a dogma or a way of being and saying that they are doomed outside that imposition.

It's not telling a very, very clever child to be only a little above average.

It's not telling a child who may not have such academic ability or who can't ace IQ tests that they are anything less than wonderful for not passing every exam.

It's embracing the child when they dream, when they develop interests, when they turn out to be autistic or neurodivergent in other ways.

It's not pushing the child into dreams, failed or otherwise, that belong only to their parents or guardians.

It's loving the child for the child. Not for who you want the child to be.

It's asking a child who they are.  And being excited when they tell you and show you, for their sake.

That's a path to a healthier brain, to happier children and adults.

That's a path I could never grant myself – let alone anyone else for I too was a hell believer and thought that outside of my own path there was only damnation.

And then, turning from the sky wizard of lightning flashes and spectacular show, I met the Oz wizard within. The ordinary person. Just me.

I said, “I have a brain. It's damaged in too many ways. Each week I want to hurt myself. Each month I fall apart. Each year I plan my suicide. Each day I want to give up. O wizard, grant me a new brain.”

The wizard spoke.

“You have the power to grant yourself a new brain. Though you may take a dozen helpful medications and see a thousand tremendous therapists, in the end only you can do it.”

The wizard spoke.

“Heal yourself. At your core you are already healed. Let that knowledge permeate your consciousness.”

Four years have passed.

I am still healing. Still finding out what my brain could be. Still learning each day and falling often. Still taking those medications.  I have a long way to go and yes, if a therapist can help I'll happily accept their intervention.

Looking to the sky god or the earth god for healing and succour is easier. But it's passing the buck and doesn't really wash away the brokenness.

Accepting the responsibility to heal yourself is far more difficult. It's a treacherous mountain route with loose rocks on every corner and more monsters and faeries than we could have possibly imagined.

It's the hard road. But it's the better road.

I choose to walk it.

Will you walk the yellow brick road of self healing with me?

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