One day, I was at my swimming class, when Andreea (my coach) told me she had something important to discuss with me about my oldest son.
I freaked out. “What did I do now? What other mistake? What am I guilty of?” I know that I tend to exaggerate.
I know I react like this because of the way my mother used to “harden” me with daily reproaches and affronts. But, though I know all of these, my first reaction is still feeling guilty and furious.
I took a few deep breaths, I gathered my courage and said that she should speak to me at that moment or else I would torment myself with all sorts of nasty thoughts until we can “seriously talk”.
Andreea started by saying how much she liked Rares, as he was a socially and emotionally intelligent kid, but it was painful for her to see him disregarding his body, his physical health. And, most important, that she believed it was his reaction to my disdain to sports and that he wanted to be like me in that respect as well. I was always declining to include sports in my life, so Rares was now copying me, whether consciously or not.
My first reaction was one of anger. “Of course, I’m guilty for all that Rares is doing wrong. I better not do anything anymore! I will die one day and we’ll see how you’ll feel without me, who you will affront then…” and other stupid thoughts in those lines. After a while, I realized I was freaking out and going out of proportions.
Just like my mother, obviously.
I took another deep breath and searched deep inside, beyond the anger. I found something that hurt even more. A deadly sadness. “I’m not worthy enough, I don’t deserve to live.”, those were the thoughts surrounding it. And, once more, I realized I was going over the board. I took some more deep breaths to calm myself.
I asked myself, with a bit more calm, where did that rejection come from. And the answer struck me with some painful memories. Memories that I had buried deep and that I would have hidden there for the rest of my life.
I remember that I was 11, trying to learn to ride a bike, while my dad was grabbing its back. How I was very afraid as I had already fallen and my dad kept on yelling at me: “You’re a good for nothing, a wuss, what the hell is wrong with you?”. He kept looking at me with disdain and disappointment. How I swallowed my tears in fear not to make him angrier. How I decided never to climb a bike again.
[ut_highlight color=”#ff6e00″] So now, at 46 years of age, when thinking about riding the bike, my stomach still clutches so hard that I can throw up in fear. [/ut_highlight]
I remember the same scenario happening when they first put me on roller blades, just that this time it was both my parents yelling. Both watching me with disdain at my fear and distress.
The same things happened over and over again during my childhood, on various occasions, but especially when they tried to teach me something new, that I’d been afraid of.
I managed to learn how to swim just because, being annoyed by my stupidity, they sent me to a class for small children. I was the oldest around them. “The village’s fool”. It was at that time that I discovered there are people who can teach you something without screaming, calling you names, being threatening.
I, also, realized that, though with the kids my age I loved to climb trees, run, wrestle, play football or do any other crazy thing we could think of, with my parents I used to avoid any sports endeavour. I read with them, did my homework, helped my mother in the kitchen, play chess or rummy.
The good part is that I grew into a literate adult, with a high IQ. The not so good part is that I remained with the fear and the idleness in relation to sports.
I told all of this in a few lines to Andreea and, in the end, she told me exactly what I was thinking myself. That, now, I had the chance to change all of it. And that by changing the way I looked at my body in a conscious and assumed way, I could give Rares a precious gift.
I painfully sighed. “Yes, you are right”, I told her. “It is a long generational trauma, probably. I believe that all my male ancestors had the same issue.”
She smiled and repeated. “Maybe, but you have the chance to stop this cycle of victims becoming the oppressors.” Or maybe she didn’t say that, but that was what I heard.
[ut_highlight color=”#ff6e00″]As I am action guy, I took immediately some decisions. [/ut_highlight]
First of all, I would tell Rares the whole story. To openly talk about my wounds that make me associate sports and suffering/humiliation.
The second decision was to go, from then on, together with him to different sport activities, like, for example, his karate classes on weekends.
Also, when the warm time came, to go out with him and play something, anything, together. Football, volley, badminton, basket, ping-pong, frisbee, climbing… anything.
For the sake of my sons I am ready to heal my past wounds and to finally learn to love my body and sports.
Did you have a similar experience? What did you learn?