The core wound of Insecurity is powerful.
With a smile ear to ear, I posed with my son for a selfie. I was beaming with pride. He was frowning with self-contemptment.
You’d never know from the obvious frown in the picture that this kid just earned a trophy for first place goalie in the prestigious Lake Placid hockey tournament’s skills competition, and a bronze medal for his team win in the finals of the tournament.
This isn’t a brag post, believe me, …please read on…
This weekend, he and his teammates had the honor and privilege of skating on the same ice where the USA Olympic hockey team created the infamous “Miracle on Ice” by defeating the Russian team in that historical 1980 rivalry.
And this kid walked away with not 1, but 2 medals.
But It’s not about the medals. It never is.
All you moms out there would say his frown is because he despises pictures, especially when his mother demands them of him.
And you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. He does hate pictures!
All his peeps would say that his frown is because his hat shifted in the pic and messed up his hair.
And you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. He does hate when his hair gets messed up and ruins his “sty” (aka “style” for those who don’t have tween or teen boys).
All of our friends out there would say that his frown is because he is not one to boast and is admirably humble.
And you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. He doesn’t ever gloat, prefers not to ever share his successes, and never ever believes himself to be any better than anyone else at anything.
But what none of you would guess is that this frown is the result of such profound insecurity and anxiety.
You’d never know it from his super outgoing, hilariously witty, charismatic, incessantly loquacious, externally confident, and ridiculously adorable (ok this last one is biased, I know) ways, that this kid worries so much.
The real reason for the frown is an internal wound of insecurity.
Sadly, this kid is hard on himself. Really hard.
He can be in a game, face 45 shots flying full
Speed at his head, save 44 of them, but he focuses on the 1 that he let in.
His narrative becomes “I suck!”
Off the ice, everyone knows and loves him. He has friends, good friends who have his back always. And then there is one. The one who makes fun of him for being “short”. The one who teases him and calls him a midget. He focuses on that one.
His narrative becomes “I am shit!”
And when he perceives himself to be not good enough, there have been times when he has chosen to retaliate and hurt those who struck him first, only further validating his sense of himself as “Bad”.
As a mom, this is so hard for me to witness.
I work with kids and teens all day every day.
I work with parents all day every day.
And I know exactly how to help them through these situations in ways that quickly and effectively heal the root of these wounds.
But for me, as I witness my own son in my very humanness, I cry.
I cry for him.
I wonder what his future will Be like.
I worry that he will resort to ugly ways of coping.
I worry that he will limit himself.
I worry that he will be misunderstood.
I cry for me.
I wonder what I did wrong to make him this way.
I wonder what I could have said or done differently.
I wonder how my own wounds of insecurities have bled into him.
As parents, we often see ourselves mirrored back to us in the eyes of our children.
The truth is that he reminds me of me; As a child. And as an adult.
Always an internal pressure cooker of angst and insecurity.
Always working so hard to prove self-worth, because no amount of external praise and validation feels like enough or even feels warranted.
Always focusing on the one thing that is perceived to be negative, while ignoring everything positive and real.
It has taken me decades to heal my own wound of insecurity, though every now and again the bits of scabbing from my healing wound still bleeds.
But I can do something about it.
I now know how.
I try to teach this boy the way I would teach a client.
I try to teach him the way I have learned.
And sometimes I just break down and resort to begging and pleading with him through tears, “Please, please, please just feel good about yourself. Just celebrate your wins even for just 6 seconds! Just celebrate being alive!”
He is 11; and I am reminded of my 11 year old self and what I wish I could say to her if only I could turn back time.
I don’t want him to struggle the way I did. But just as I do with clients, I have to remember that this is his unique journey. And he has to walk the path, figuring it out himself while learning the lessons along the way, just like I did.
If I jump in to save him, I rob him of the opportunity to learn for himself.
I can mentor, but I can’t fix.
I can’t make him do things my way.
I can’t make him see the world through my lenses.
I can’t force him to handle situations the way I would.
There is only so much I can do to help, without it becoming enabling, and without it being disingenuous for him.
He has to figure out who he isn’t before he can remember who he truly is.
This is the life task for all of us.
“But I don’t want him to suffer”, I say to myself.
He may struggle, But suffering is always a choice.
I can only Hope that it’s not the one he makes, but if it is, I support him and will do all I can to empower him as he works to navigate this life.
In the meantime, I will proudly smile for him, always. He is such a good kid, and I am grateful to be his mom.
He may never be able to truly know the depths of my unconditional love for him.
I only Hope that he can discover the way towards unconditional Acceptance and love of himself. If he can find his way back to his truth, he will see what I, and so many others see, when we witness him.
And that’s the same advice for myself—-always, always, always, stay aligned with my truth.
And all I have to do for my kids is witness them unconditionally, allow them to be who they are without trying to change them, and light the way for their own journeys through the light of my own wounds.
I only need to offer care without control.
It actually is pretty simple, though it certainly doesn’t always feel that way.
Parenting can often feel hard.
This weekend is a reminder of why the greatest thing I can do for my kids, and my clients, is to continue to do my own inner work. That’s my lasting legacy.
To my awesome kid—I love you baby boy.
This world needs you just as you are, don’t ever change.
And congratulations to all the amazing kiddos who skated hard this weekend fueled by hearts full of love for the game, and love for each other. The camaraderie in this game of hockey is incredible, and I’m grateful that my family is a part of it.