“Wrong” Finale

I finally got it!!! I’m so excited!!!

Eva Sim-Zabka, my dear friend, colleague and possibility coach, coached me through the final piece of this last night. She is so good!

After my youngest sister was born, we moved, so I can place the creation of this life-long issue at age 8. At that time, I remember lying awake at night terrified. I had never been afraid of the dark or sleeping alone before, and I am sure that by age 8, my fear of going to bed alone would’ve been dismissed by my parents as unfounded. Still, I remember crawling into bed with my mom sometimes at that house, but have no memories of doing that at any of the other houses we had lived in. (Funny how I never before realized that the nighttime fears started here.)

That was also the period of time when I became unable to ask my Dad for help with homework (math) without bursting into uncontrollable tears. Up until now, I never knew why.

I also remember worrying that my mom & dad might get a divorce. I had probably seen Parent Trap, so I knew what divorce was. It was not very common back then, and I can’t imagine having to choose between parents, especially with my need for my dad’s approval. My older sister still says she wasn’t aware that our folks were having problems. Later, as adults, we learned they definitely were. So, since my room was adjacent to theirs, I must’ve been close enough to hear them argue at night, but I have no actual memory of anything they said. Still, I can’t imagine a kid in the next room missing the tone of voice or the rumbling sounds of anger.

Eva pointed out that since during the day no one talked about it, and my mom & dad pretended everything was fine, I would’ve felt isolated. That was so true! I’d finally been heard and understood!

Right then I got that’s why I have to do everything myself. And if everything (survival) depends on me, I can’t be wrong! There it was: “You can’t be wrong!” The threatening mandate, or “program” that ran my life until now. And I can see why–an 8-year old kid who can’t be wrong? That’s so scary! Wrong instantaneously became collapsed with dangerous (wrong = dangerous), and wrong became my biggest fear.

Now, here’s how right kids are: Back at that time, I started deliberately opening my curtains at night. That is so symbolic! Even though I was terrified of what might be outside in the dark, I would force myself to open the curtains. It was scary, but I had to know. After I would look, I remained watchful of the window, but could at least go to sleep. As a kid, I knew what I needed–concerning my fear of the night, my fear of divorce, and my fears in life. Now that I get it, I can see that I continued to act out the communication, “I need to know,” throughout my life.

No wonder I had to know everything! No wonder I became a fretful perfectionist! No wonder I had to do everything myself! No wonder I had to be right and couldn’t stand criticism! No wonder I went into my own world! That’s too much power for a kid–dangerous to be wrong!

Crazy. Here I was at the ripe old age of 8–dangerous. No wonder I had a thing about safety! “I” wasn’t safe. One of the reasons I married my husband was because I felt safe. It’s no surprise I had a focus on safety in my art conservation career and PTA work, and Language of Listening: SAY WHAT YOU SEE and Power Playtime make it safe for kids to “be.”

My new thoughts today are: “I am not afraid,” and “The only way to be wrong in writing the second half of the SAY WHAT YOU SEE book is not to write it at all.”

The threat “You can’t be wrong!” flipped to the relief “You can’t be wrong!” because that kind of wrong (wrong=dangerous) doesn’t exist in the first place. Same words, completely different meaning. Nice!

1 Comment

  1. Julia Kurskaya |

    It’s absolutely amazing how the words “You can’t be wrong” can be a threat and a relief at the same time! This is impressive. Thank you, Sandy.

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