Sunday, December 16, 2012

Re-Parenting and Play

Re-parenting is a term used by psychology people to describe the process of dealing with issues from  childhood by doing the things for yourself that your parents did not do. Words like trauma, abuse, neglect, dysfunction, and other fun terms are usually thrown around with re-parenting.

I take a different view of re-parenting. Once you're an adult, you take care of yourself. Parenting yourself means giving yourself what you need. If your parents did something well that you needed, then do a lot of that. The things they did not give you, or give you often enough, you can now do for yourself. Re-parenting is good for you whether you had an amazingly positive or completely negative childhood.

Today I had a play-date re-parenting session. Me and my woeful makeup kit. Now, my mother would have loved to have played make-up with me. I can picture her pulling out colors and lipsticks and brushes. But I had a strained relationship with her most of my life, especially as I became a teen. I was also bullied badly in school as a child, so my main goal in life until I was seventeen was to not be noticed. My half-hearted attempts at makeup did not improve my looks to my eyes, so I wore little or none, and to this day I don't wear much.

I got my hair cut today. I look pretty cute right now. So I felt the urge to pull out my facial crayolas and have a go. Fortunately, my husband had to run some errands, so I was alone and able to be a girl-gone-wild with makeup--at least as wild as I can get with a few tins of mineral foundation and powder and some natural tinted lip balm.

I didn't turn into a super-model. I liked the way I look with the makeup, but probably won't wear much more in public in the future. My eyes get tired easily, and I have never been able to stop rubbing them--so eye makeup pretty much leaves me resembling a raccoon. I hate the way lipstick feels. Since I also have sensitive skin, I only wear natural lip balms. To get them to look like more than a slight tinting of my lips I have to lay it on so thick that I leave marks on cups--which let's face it, is pretty gross.

Still I took a nice picture or two. More importantly, I had a lot of fun. I squealed at some of the pictures that made me look like a zombie gone for a Glamour Shot session. I tried on clothes. I pulled out my jewelry. I became Barbie's Friend: "I'm-Alive-And-Have-Realistic-Measurements-Teresa."

After I put  away the makeup, and changed into my sit around the house and write clothes, I realized I don't play enough. I distract myself plenty--Facebook, Internet, TV, even my beloved reading is sometimes just a way to cut myself off from the disappointments that sometimes come up in the real world. But they aren't really play. Play is, well. ..playful. Uninhibited. Joyful. It involves the same mind focus as meditation, and I'm sure has the same health benefits. I grew out of play early as a child. I was shy, picked on, and quite possibly depressed well into my teen years. My re-parenting gift to myself is play.

There are other, more serious ways to be the grown-up in my life. I am getting better at maintaining my health and home. I am specifying the things I want in life, and rolling up my sleeves to get those things done. These are fulfilling, and as I begin to see small progress in these goals, I am proud of myself. But by themselves, I become obsessed with who I want to be. By adding play--whether it's crawling around with my cat or pulling out my makeup--I can enjoy who I am, too.

Please take some time today and look at your life. Are there things your parents did for you that were great? Do you do them for yourself? Are there things you missed out on as a kid? It's not too late to add them to your life. Let me know how you nurture your inner playful child. And please, whatever your age or place in life, make a little time to play!

Thank you to contracox for the use of the adorable photo.

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