Growing up, my family constantly presented a façade that we were a happy, middle-class unit. We had a nice home, nice cars, good education — and things seemed great. However, even stable environments can become unpredictable. For me, the mental and emotional abuse and neglect were breaking me down for as long as I could remember. Thinking back to elementary and middle school reminds me of when I was constantly “sick,” in and out of the hospital and always in the nurse’s office. I am pretty sure it was just bad anxiety, which upon reflection is why I decided on reparenting myself.
I was not officially diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (and Major Depressive Disorder) until I was 12 years old. But after a few months, my parents stopped my therapy and medications. This did absolutely no good for me. This was the biggest act of emotional neglect for me. I remember my father telling me to “stop being so sensitive” or “stop crying before I give you something to cry about.” I was always afraid to ask my parents to do things and hang out with friends because I didn’t know what type of reaction I would get. If you have childhood damage as well, reparenting might be exactly what you need.
So, what is reparenting?
Reparenting is basically giving yourself something you feel you may not have received as a child. This may be communication, affection, discipline, or emotional regulation. In my case, it includes emotional support and stability.
Reparenting yourself sounds like something strange and maybe even difficult. But after stumbling across several posts on Instagram from some of my friends and favorite celebrities I decided to look into it. Dr. Nicole LePera, a.k.a. The Holistic Psychologist, has a great blog post about what reparenting is and how to begin on your own. This was my first step and the next step was to obviously follow her on Facebook and Instagram. There are so many articles and books to read on reparenting and it is truly something you can do in your own way.
For me, my first step was to realize what I missed as a child that I truly needed to change within myself. I needed emotional stability, support, and regulation. I found myself confusing being a “strong independent woman” with being stable and not needing any kind of support. However, when I began to read into these attributes individually, I recognized where I may fall short in these areas. Dr. LePera has so many posts that really get you thinking when it comes to reparenting. Many really made me stop and think, “Wow, this really applies to me. I need boundaries. This is retraumatizing and not reparenting.” Her Instagram is pretty much my Reparenting Bible.
Prior to reparenting, I would get so anxious and worked up if things went wrong. Whether big or small I would feel like it was truly the end of the world. But this reaction was simply because of the way I was parented. I was (and sometimes still am) hard on myself when it comes to some things or I have to consult others before making decisions simply out of fear.
I’m only 24 years old and I have been on my reparenting journey for about 6 months. I have recognized and forgiven my parents for the emotional and mental abuse I lived through. I have forgiven myself for the self-destructive behavior I have created as a result of the way I grew up. My next step on this journey is reprogramming my perception of myself inside and out. I am learning to be nicer to myself and even spoil myself without the guilt.
If you feel like you could benefit from reparenting but it may be overwhelming to do alone, I encourage you to look into a psychologist that could assist you in this journey.