Monkey on his arm

I recently met someone special and we got to know each other deeply very quickly. Probably it was because our friendship began on a different plane, free from this world of social posturing, empty chitchats and sexual expectations. It was simply a case of two souls meeting each other by grand design: we also happened to be reading the same book (Sapiens: A History of Being Human by Yuval Noah Harari) at the same time, albeit in two different languages. But right from the start, we spoke the same language, laughing about the same silly things and understanding the deeper things without the need for words.

He did not have a good time in his childhood. And like many wounded souls who were wounded by a parent, he did all the ‘bad’ things in his youth. It is the obvious course of action. As the Franciscan friar, Richard Rohr said, “If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it”. Pain is like a monster that cannot be contained.

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Photograph: Flight to light, London to Phuket flight

Few of us are fortunate enough to escape childhood unscathed, as childhood is the time we are most vulnerable to hurts, especially the hurt inflicted by primary caregivers (often parents). This is one of the reasons why my children’s father and I are absolutely committed to making our children’s childhood as safe, beautiful and magical as possible – despite the harshness of the world we live in – because we have seen enough people who are outwardly successful, yet these ‘accomplished’ folks are Walking Woundeds on the inside, their lives blighted by their inability to walk away from past damage. They go on, passing their pain to others, because that is the nature of the beast.

In his late 30s, this special person I write about is self-aware, reflective, gentle and deeply in touch with himself. I find that he has shown tremendous courage to face his past and evolve from it, rather than deny, run away, build walls. Totally not in keeping with the rest of his appearance, he has a prominent tattoo on his forearm to remind him always of his path towards transformation. Once we own something, we can begin to transform the beast within us into what we want it to be. Running away does not help.

It could easily have gone another way with this special person – as I have seen in several others – if he had not been brave enough to transform his pain. He could have gone on destroying everything in his path, and in the process, destroy himself. Rather, he makes the flowers in his path bloom just by being the way he is.

But what I find most amazing is the depth of love in him for his family. Today, he is flying home to be with a sick relative. This is something I resonate deeply with: he is not stingy with the things that matter most in life, namely giving of oneself freely still, despite past injustices that had been done to him. Of course, when you give generously, you leave yourself open to potential hurt down the line. But really, it is the only way to be, to find our own salvation in the good things we do for others in the name of love.

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Photograph: Views over Patong, Phuket. Its beauty escape many people.

“Mum, where are you?”

My youngest child is almost 17. She is a big and strong girl, larger in stature and more powerful than I. Yet she is extremely attached to her father and I.

“Where’s my Daaad?” She would ask and huff whenever her father is out of sight.

“Mum, are you there?” She’d stick her head into my room to ‘check’, her big, bug-like eyes missing nothing.

 In a year’s time or so, she would be flying the nest to go to university. The world is her oyster, but I think she will settle for Imperial, because it is in London and thus close to home.

“You should teach her to be more independent,” a few people have commented disapprovingly.

And recently, there was an article making its rounds, “I am raising my kids to leave me.”

No, we are not raising Georgina to leave us. We are raising her to have choices.

 Indeed, this supremely capable youngest child of ours has all the right tools to live independently, but the choice to be independent is entirely hers.  Practicality might dictate that she leaves her supremely happy and safe childhood home, but there is no must.

I once knew a lady who could not wait for her children to leave home so that her life could begin. She defended that aim ruthlessly and would not allow her adult children to come home even in times of need. This stance of hers has caused her living children grave emotional trauma, ranging from addiction to chasing for love in the wrong places and being unable to accept love when it happened. Always running away, because a safe place called home never existed for them.

Beautiful perfect house, nice-looking photographs on the mantelpiece but wounded souls carrying unhealed childhood trauma still, right through their forties.  

 Is it worth it, this independence thing?

To have a secure base is a gift and a blessing.  I am a strong believer in the evolutionary theory of attachment, namely human beings are born with the biological tendency to form attachments for the aim of survival. We need to be safe, to have a secure base, and then only we can achieve our best well and truly.

Two of my children who are in their twenties choose to live together, less than one mile from their childhood home. In fact, they recreated their childhood home that they loved so much. Close our eyes, and we seamlessly rolled back the years back to when we were young and the children were little. So easy. But perhaps it is because they never left. They slept in our bed for the longest time. And thus my thesis: attachment is the price we pay for that warmth and closeness with one another, and the joy and happiness that comes with that attachment.

This video by Omeleto about The Thank You Project says it so beautifully. As a medic, it struck a chord deeply in me.  Please click this link to view: https://www.facebook.com/omeletocom/videos/10154832249999494/?pnref=story

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Photograph: Omeletto

 “None of us make it into life or through life on our own.”

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Photograph: Georgina with her father.