Marital, Family or Individual Therapist serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana



Memories From Childhood Can Connect Us To Who We Are And What We Need
Written By: Mark Smith


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Like many local newspaper contributors, I am an aspiring writer. It is a newly discovered passion for me. In my very first writing group this week we were prompted to write something that included all five senses. I share it with you in the hope that it might both touch you and possibly stir some memories of your own. The first thing that came to mind for me was a very special and wonderful smell:



Wudge



I am little again.



She bounces around the kitchen all bubbly joy and smiles, lite on her feet, a twinkle in her eye.



Doris Day regales and brightens my tiny senses: Que Sera, Sera whatever will be will be, the future's not ours to see, Que Sera, Sera



The magical aroma of boiling liquid fudge dominates and warms our safe place. It was "wudge" to my little self, by far the most wonderful smell of my childhood.



What a perfect blend - soft sweet chocolate bettered by crunchy, salty pecans. It tasted heavenly. It was nurturing addictive motherly love. I would gobble it up until I was sick.



I longed for more touch from my sweet, angry, too busy mother but I gleefully consumed that which she offered. The special treat filled in what I needed and ultimately it wasn't nearly enough.



I am little still.



What memories do you have of your childhood? With every new client that I see I spend the first two hours just getting to know them. I ask them every imaginable question about every aspect of their lives - their parents, grandparents, friends, education, former relationships, career, kids, hobbies, siblings, etc. While most people can tell their stories with openness, heart and articulation, sadly some cannot. They were so close to the forest that can't describe the trees for me. I know there is much more there, but they just can't put their fingers on it. I tell them that I wished that I had a time travel machine in my office that I could go back in time to have dinner with their family just one time. Then I could return with subtle truths about who their parents were and how they impacted their little selves.



The reason that I ask all of the questions during the initial interviews is that I'm trying to figure out why each of my new clients married each other. I know that it wasn't because they both liked tennis or just because he thought she was so beautiful. How our parents love us sets the tone for how we will be loved for the rest of our lives. How they love us becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy for who will pick to carry on their loving or not so loving traditions. Let me encourage you to do a little exercise when you have a few minutes. On a piece of paper write down as many descriptive words as you can think of for your dad, your mom and for any current or former spouses or significant others. Do you see any patterns there? Had you noticed the similarities before? Now write down your three best and three worst memories from your childhood. You need to do this when you have some time, some tissues, and hopefully someone to give you a hug.



There is important information about you in both your positive and your painful memories. When I began to write about wudge I had all positive feelings and associations. But the more I wrote it came to me what it was that the wonderful wudge actually symbolized for me. It was more than great fudge - it was much desperately needed mother's love and nurturing. When I read my little story to my group I was very surprised by a few ancient teardrops. What did you long for as a child, but not receive enough of? Are you still longing for much the same in your marriage? There is a little one in you still. Give him or her a voice. Giving firm, positive, vulnerable voice to your needs is required for a marriage to be vital and connected. Most people are so walled off from their emotional needs that they can't quite connect with the ones that they love the most. Or they fill their emotional needs with addictive substitutes as I was trained to do as a wudge gobbling little one. There are many forms of "nurturing" substitutes for actual emotional needs - alcohol, food, drugs, sex, work, reading, TV, etc. These all feel great while you are ingesting them, but ultimately they will disconnect you from yourself and from the ones that you love the most.



Spend some time reconnecting with your memories and with yourself. Discover what your emotional needs are and then share them in a humble, disarming way with your spouse. See if there might be a few ancient tears hiding in your eyes as well. I suspect that there might be See you next week.





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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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