One of my favorite games when I was a child was to hold a mirror on my chest and look down on the reflection of the ceiling and walk around my house. I’d pretend I was walking on the ceiling. I have a few memories of doing this with my brother but mostly it was just me, alone in my room, walking on the ceiling.
Like most children, I just assumed everyone I met lived like I did. I had no concept of poverty or wealth. I didn’t know what neglect was and just assumed that everyone thought like I did about being a child; that childhood was to be endured and that happiness would come with the freedom of adulthood.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t have a happy childhood, just that the happiness was often hard earned. At an early age, I learned that I was responsible for myself and discovered that there were lots of way to escape my reality through television, drawing, and of course, walking on the ceiling.
As I grew older, I found new ways to escape that brought me further from happiness and eventually into a downward spiral of drug use and alcoholism. My optimism disappeared as adulthood approached and freedom from despair felt far out of reach.
Thankfully, I found sobriety before alcoholism could claim me forever. It was about a decade later than I had originally anticipated but I did finally reach adulthood and experienced the freedom I dreamed of as a child.
After a few years of nurturing my inner child, as a fully functioning adult, my happy memories outweighed the bad ones in every avenue of life. Everything I could think of that sparked a negative memory from childhood, I redid. While starting a stuffed animal collection in my late twenties may seem trivial, it did wonders to soothe my anxious inner child, who wished away her youth on the promise of better days.
It’s been the better part of a decade since I made peace with the first few chapters in my life. My inner child is healed and feels loved. The timing was magical, as soon as I could say with confidence that I had addressed the resentments of my youth, I found out I was going to be a mother.
Our children are now two and five years old. My inner child comes out to play with them and our home is a happy and safe one. My husband and I talk often about how we can continue to make strives in breaking generational trauma without whitewashing the past or minimalizing the importance of the individualized journey we all must make to adulthood. Like most parents, we’re just trying to do what we think is best for children.
The other day, our five-year-old jumped up on the dining room table and grabbed a mirror that was on the table. He immediately positioned it under his chin and started looking down as he walked towards the end of the table. I instinctively knew what he was trying to do, and grabbed him, setting him down on the floor and helped him position the mirror so he could continue walking on the ceiling.
My friend who was sitting at the table visiting with me, commented how intuitive the whole interaction with my son was. She then asked if that was something he often did with mirrors? I told her it was the first time I’d seen him do it but that I remembered doing that as a kid, so it was easy to help him.
My friend commented how she had never and would likely never even think to do such a thing. I laughed and asked my husband if he ever walked on the ceiling? Which he responded a quick “no.” It then occurred to me that perhaps this wasn’t a common game to play as a child and searched my thoughts for any memory of talking to my son or showing him how to walk on the ceiling, I came up with nothing. It appears, that he came to the game of walking on the ceiling organically.
Watching my son play with the mirror to pretend he is walking on the ceiling, warmed my heart and made my inner child smile. Another memory from my childhood made sweeter by reflecting on my present-day life.
Reflecting is a way to change our perspective and even our reality. To reflect, we need to tap into something outside of ourselves, but this doesn’t need to be a complicated pursuit. For me, watching my son walk on the ceiling was enough to shift my attitude for the day and fill me with gratitude.
It also reminded me that it is within my power to act if I’m feeling stuck in my way of thinking. It could be stepping outside on a cold day without shoes on. Or looking up when I would normally look down. Taking a shower in the dark. Acting my way into different thinking is a surefire way to expand my perspective and tilt my reality just enough to have a new experience.
Today, I will remember that in a world that sometimes feels out of control, I can control how it impacts me. When something doesn’t feel right, I can try something else. I don’t need to make huge decisions to cultivate a new attitude toward life, I just need to be willing to try and look at the world from a different angle.
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