I didn’t have a great childhood. I can count on one hand the positive memories I have of my mother. Now, I find myself a parent of a teenager, and as I raise him into adulthood I find that I am rewriting my own childhood story. At this time in my life, as I rewrite my past, I also find myself safe enough to process the emotions of my past that were previously unavailable to me. That’s one of the amazing things about us as humans; our animal-selves will protect us from things we cannot handle. This is why actively creating a life where we feel safe and carving out time for healing is so important.
By the time I was my son’s age, I had already been cast off. I had a history of days and nights alone. I didn’t have a stable home or parent figure in my life. I have no memories of an adult helping me learn boundaries and right from wrong, I was never grounded for coming home late, there was no consequences for bad choices, I never got help with homework or had to eat my vegetables. I have no memories of an adult listening to my troubles with friends or boys, guiding me emotionally, telling me that I mattered, sharing joy in my accomplishments, or making sure I was safe.
I do have memories of my mom coming home to our one bedroom apartment and waking me up and telling me to go from the one bed we had to the couch so that she and her boyfriend could have the bed, and then trying to fall back asleep on the couch to the loud noises of them having sex. I remember stealing toilet paper from the public bathrooms in town because we had none in the house for weeks. I remember lonely meals of weak coffee made from re-used grounds, and grits from the food kitchen.
As I watch my son at this age, I see how much he needs and thrives with a strong family and strong parenting. For a long time my story about my past was that what happened to me didn’t really matter because I was “mostly an adult anyways” when my mom checked out. That is just flat-out not true. Teenagers aren’t mentally and biologically developed to handle adult issues.
Now, my life is filled with meals together as a family, homework together at the table, my husband and I cheering on the sidelines of every single thing my son is involved with, afternoons of just listening to him share his life, troubles, successes, worries and hopes, play and laughter with his friends their families, strong community, clear boundaries, and evenings when my son, husband and I are just snuggled together on the couch. I can’t tell you the exquisite cocktail of emotions within me. Joy at my current life, pride in myself as a parent, grief and heartache for the injustices my younger self suffered, and compassion for my own mother. It is all there.
The more I parent my own child, the more I understand certain aspects of my story, and the more compassion I have for some of the choices I made early in my adulthood (like my first marriage to a drug addict). I even have tenderness for who I am now, the mental and emotional hurdles I have, and the healing work that I am still doing. This isn’t about blame or excuses – it’s about understanding. Trauma, abandonment…these things stay with us and become a part of our story. As I learn to have compassion for myself, my compassion for others grows as well. It really is true that if you could walk a mile in another person’s shoes, you would understand why they are the way that they are.
I have committed my life to healing and to helping others heal. It’s a courageous journey, my friends. It is vulnerable to have compassion for others. It is brave to re-write your story. It is valiant to go after your dreams and goals and become the person you want to be.
I am so proud and grateful for the person I am, the coaching and mediation work I do, and the life I’ve created. I’m also incredibly proud of you and what you’ve achieved. I might not know your entire story – but I know it took resilience and courage. I’m grateful for you. For the courage you’ve had to show up everyday. You are pretty incredible.
The greatest power we have to heal the world is to heal ourselves. To create peace in the world, we must first create it within our own hearts. This isn’t about finding the ‘silver lining’, it’s not an abstract idea, or a mental thought – and it’s definitely not about sweeping the unsavory parts of your story under the rug or pretending everything is rainbows and unicorns. This is an invitation to come into the light, to see the plain truth of your story and to accept all of it with open arms.
Mindy Amita Aisling
ICF Life Coach,
NFPT Fitness Trainer,
OMA Certified Mediator
Mindy Aisling is a certified life and business coach in Bend, OR, exceeding all of the educational requirements & training set forth by the ICF.
She has worked with such organizations as St. Charles Hospital, Soroptimists, The Dispute Resolution Center, Olympic Medical Center, Americorps, and Juvenile and Family Services.
She has been featured in the New York Times, The Seattle Times, The Bend Bulletin, The Peninsula Daily News, KOMO 4 TV, The Oregonian and many more. You can learn more about Mindy here.
Mindy offers professional, affordable online coaching to clients around the world, and local coaching to clients in Bend, Oregon.
Licensed and Insured