Early in the Loving Parent Guidebook, healthy early childhood development is summarized with a suggestion to further explore on our own. I did this and became fascinated with the concept of “mirroring.” That tender time, when a baby smiles into the face of a loving caregiver and receives a glowing smile in return – light and love. A simple thing. Who can resist a smiling baby. That baby was me.
But the years pass, and when that little one grows up and needs a reflection to make sense of fears, disappointments, anger, or frustration, that young person has possibly become not so lovable, and the mirrors have changed. Now the caregiver’s reflection is not the validating, understanding, let’s-work-through-this look, it’s darkness and disappointment. The inner child sees no “self,” and until recovery comes, gets swallowed into the dark shadows of codependency and dysfunction. That young person was me.
Today, as a recovering adult child, I am able to gauge how or if I am being mirrored. With longtime friends or in my LPG study group, there is reflective mirroring: listening, interest, conversation, smiles, and care. Definitely light. Sometimes, though, I have an experience where a person is unavailable, busy, or not interested. That person is not mirroring me and possibly it’s time for a conversation, or to uninvest in the relationship. Definitely not light, but it’s not crushing like it used to be.
As a loving parent, I look in a mirror, smile and reflect acceptance and love. I am able to comfort tears, soothe feelings, and celebrate joy. The source of my light and love is my loving HP. I am able today to be my own loving parent. I have a “self.”
To ACA, and to the 60 plus fellow travelers who volunteered 10,000 plus hours of their time creating the text and artwork for the Loving Parent Guidebook — I mirror me, like the workbook cover, and in thanks, I am mirroring you all with light and love.