St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:11 stated, “when I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Most people simply read that as a call for maturity and to grow up. It is debatable whether putting away toys and things that make us belly laugh and exemplify unbridled fun so we can follow a more traditional path less distracted is mandatory.
However, there is much more to it than that.
I was disciplined repeatedly during my early years, not necessarily undeservingly so, for I was a willful child. The problem didn’t lay with the necessity of guidance and discipline but the methodology. Physical discipline, for extremely sensitive children, such as myself, can be perceived as highly traumatic.
For me, these early childhood traumatic events shaped my perception and personality until I realized and decided to do something about it.
We make a great deal out of bullying these days, but what if the person that is doing the bullying is your parents? Yelling, pushing, cursing to motivate a young child to “behave” is nothing short of bullying. Some might say it was a generational thing or for others a cultural thing and dismiss it as a sign of the times. Regardless, this type of behavior by parents can have just as destructive effect as the usual school yard bully. There is only one way to deal with these childhood events that shape our future, and that is to let them go or as Paul writes, “put away childish things.”
There are a number of characteristics that I developed as a result of being physically disciplined by my parents. These are characteristics that I have struggled with all of my life. These include abandonment and betrayal issues, trust issues of others and my own judgement, self-esteem issues and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I can trace all of these issues that I have struggled with to interactions with my parents in my pre-school years. I know what your thinking, “Just get over it. You can’t blame your adult behavior on your parents forever.”
I couldn’t agree more.
So what did I do to heal and let these childish things go?
First, I had to detach from the issue at hand. I had horrible panic attacks which came out of nowhere and left me physically sick. These panic attacks arose anytime I felt like I was being abandoned or betrayed, whether it was the truth or not. I also felt these panic attacks anytime someone yelled at me. The interpretation of yelling can also vary from person to person. My fiancé is Italian and sensitive, yet she perceives yelling in quite a different way than I.
When I became aware that these panic attacks were sourced by ancient memories of when my parents yelled at me, I was able to detach from the memory. To detach from my memory was not easy. It took and continues to take me staying clear that “that was then, this is now. To remind myself that “This is not real” to bring me back into the present moment, using meditation and breathing exercises to help get oxygen to my brain to overcome the fight or flight response.
The same response that I experienced whenever I felt abandoned, betrayed or abused.