I am giving myself a lot of kindness right now. Kindness for not knowing what to write in this blog. Kindness for the imposter syndrome I experience for not being a perfect Purejoy coach. Seeing through the lens of kindness is new to me.
Before Purejoy, kindness was a foreign language. I grew up in a house filled with criticism. There was always a right and wrong way of doing everything. Many cruel words were spoken. I also experienced a lot of silence along with the loneliness, so I filled myself up with harmful words to validate the silence. I told myself often that if things weren’t done perfectly that I was a failure, stupid, weak, and worthless. I was committed to the mindset that being successful meant being hard on yourself to obtain your goals. If I made a mistake, I berated myself for it.
Purejoy changed everything. At first the kind, loving voice came from people like Leslie, and the master coaches and group coaches. It was external. Committing to the SafeSeat process I soon internalized their voices, so when I was feeling shame it was their voices in my head giving me kindness. With a lot of practice I eventually heard my own voice saying, “Of course you didn’t want to do that. You were having a hard day. You love your child. You just forgot to pause and love yourself. .”
Last week I lost my sh*t. At the end of a long week of solo parenting, all 3 of my kids were melting down on the way home from an after school picnic. My middle child was “out of control” scratching her siblings causing them to bleed. I abruptly pulled the car over, yanked her out of her car seat and set her on the sidewalk. I yelled “It is not ok to scratch people!” and “Do you want me to leave you here?” at the side of the road. She screamed, “Noooo!” and clawed her way back into the car.
As I sat back into the driver’s seat I immediately experienced the sunken feeling of shame rush into my body. My heart was pounding. My inner voice started saying “What have I done? I am a horrible mom. I am traumatizing my child.” Right then I stopped myself. I put my hand on my heart and waited. After a couple of breaths I heard these kind words in my own voice. “Oh, my love. You were overwhelmed and scared. Of course you want to protect your children from getting hurt. Parenting is really hard.”
Before Purejoy I would have endlessly berated myself for threatening to leave my daughter on the side of the road. Stuck in the shame cycle I would have shut down and withdrawn. But now I could see the situation more clearly and approach it from a place of nonjudgement. Later that evening after SafeSeating and offering myself kindness I took responsibility for my actions and asked how it was for her. My middle child said she was scared and since I had connected with myself I didn’t need her to validate me by saying it was OK. First, I validated her feelings and then together we came up with a solution. She would wear gloves in the car to protect her siblings and remind her not to scratch.
So I ask you, the reader, who’s voice is in your head? Is it harsh or kind? Is there a kind voice of someone you know (a teacher, relative, loved one) that you can hear? Can you bring it into your head and your heart and make it your own?
Emily Zelig, Ph.D. is a Purejoy Parent Coach and Plant Ecologist. She is a disabled, autistic mom who is passionate about supporting families and celebrating neurodiversity. Emily lives on a mini homestead near Seattle with her husband, 3 children, and too many plants and animals to count.
You can reach her at email@example.com