Monday afternoon I sat on the sofa of a child counsellor who was getting to know my partner and me before starting therapy with my son. My son is nine years old and experiences severe panic attacks. I told the counsellor that it is almost as if, now that he is nine, he is more conscious of what has happened and it is affecting him tremendously.
The counsellor paused, then responded, “Actually Cara, I would like to disagree with you. In my opinion it appears that your son is more unconscious at age nine than he was in his earlier years and I want to help him reconnect.” He continued, “When children experience trauma, they often react with a fight or flight response. I want to help Cole reconnect to who he is on the inside so that the outside world does not seem so overwhelming!”
Wow, he was incredibly correct! When I think of my son now in comparison to when he was six, the difference is obvious.
Six months ago our family made the big move from Nova Scotia to Alberta, Canada. As much as I miss, the Celtic music, the ocean, and of course my family and friends, it was time to move to a place with more stability and opportunity.
Our family has gone through a tremendous amount of change in the past three years, and my son, who was six years old when it started, has been amazing, sensitive, and a coping machine. To briefly let you in on some of things that occurred during this time I will put them in point form:
- Our family friend was murdered by her husband.
- Her four daughters came to live with my mother and father only two months after my mother retired on disability.
- Three weeks later, my boyfriend of three years moved out on me without telling me.
- Two months after that, my mother had a life altering stroke that left her paralyzed at 63, and in a nursing home.
- I was asked by Child and Family Services to adopt our murdered friend’s three year old daughter (whom I love and think about often).
- Her and her sister came to live with us and I was then asked to instead transition them to their new home a province away. (Still chokes me up to this day).
- Since then we have moved three times and I have a new boyfriend who is like a father to my son.
My son is very compassionate and empathetic, and we are very close. As a single mother for seven years it is inevitable that our bond is strong, but the parts of my little boy, the one who used to express raw spiritual memories and experiences, was fading away.
Parenting definitely does not come with a guidebook and truthfully the whole cycle can be absurd if you think about it. We, Cole’s parents, in our thirties, still look around at our life and wonder how we grew up so fast. Now, this little person is staring back at you (usually a miniature version of yourself) seeking the answers; answers we are still trying to figure out in our adult years. Our goal is usually the same, “How can we avoid screwing up our kid(s)?”
For now the answer is, “I don’t know!” I think in some way it is enviable that we will be blamed for something because it is a vicious cycle. As for my own journey, all I can do is my best and help my little man remember his true essence when times get tough.
Our external environment can play such a toll on our spiritual selves, but at the same time, it is the fuel that helps us create who we are internally. I have personally experienced my fair share of adversity growing up, and the only thing I regret is not realizing sooner that I was capable of so much more than I allowed myself to believe I could achieve. I hope to pass on some of those lessons to my son.
In the meantime, I also have to be gentle on myself and realize this too is his path and maybe one day he will remember his connection to a higher power.
Here is an excerpt from the second book I have written in the Dear Cole, series.
When you told me about heaven you spoke with such conviction that I sat at your feet in awe, like you were an ascended master who was sharing the secrets of the world. This was not the first time you spoke of heaven. You began telling me about your past lives as soon as you could string sentences together. People might think that with my belief system I was influencing you in some way, but the truth was because of my belief system I didn’t want to influence you. I wanted you to be raw and tell me from your own mind, so I never told you anything about God, Angels or what I believed or experienced. Even if I did I’m not sure how I expected a two year old to comprehend the content of my conversations on this matter.
It was my thirtieth birthday when things changed . You were three years old at the time and I use d to tell you “Once upon time” stories about my childhood. At a family get together we had a little moment in the corner of the room where I decided to trick you and instead asked you the question,
“Cole, tell me a once upon a time about when you were born?”
You looked at me and laughed, but then paused and a serious expression came across your face.
“Mom, did I ever tell you I was a man once?”
A little taken a back I answered,
“No honey, you never told me that.”
As if the only thing holding you back was the ability to speak you poured out, “Yes Mommy, I was a man once and I killed and then I was a baby, but the baby didn’t last very long, and then I was in your belly and now I am here.”
The matter-of-fact tone in your voice gave me goose bumps and I questioned, “Honey, who did you kill?”
“Oh don’t worry mommy, I only killed myself.” With that last statement you skipped away while I sat there totally dumbfounded.
What did I just experience? I mean I knew I believed in reincarnation but to actually experience it coming out of the mouth of your barely three year old child was amazing!
Killed himself? For someone who only watches Dora and Diego with the occasional Back Yard Agains, how could you even possibly comprehend what that meant?
The next week you became very serious in telling me about your brother Billy that you missed very much. “He was my brother but that was with my other mom, before you.”
You always seemed to turn into another person when you told me about these instances, as if you aged twenty years in thirty seconds.
I knew what it was like to not be believed, so I never said a word; I only inquired very gently with open questions such as, “Really baby, tell me more, or what was that like?”
It was the day you told me about God that I felt as if I got to experience a miracle. Many sceptics would question the validity of this, such as you heard something from T.V. or at daycare, but the details of the memory were too explicit in my opinion to make it up.
I had just picked you up from daycare and you ran ahead of me up the stairs to our studio loft. I began putting away your things and preparing a snack when you looked up at me from the sofa and asked, “Mommy can I tell you about my brother Billy?”
“Sure honey,” I replied, “Anytime!”
I was not prepared for the extremely vivid recollection of your past life that you began to share.
“I had a brother Billy mommy, but we did not look like this.” You pointed to your arm and pinched your skin, “We were brown.”
You continued, “We lived in a black apartment building and my dad had a shop in the basement. My mom had to go away and Billy and I were really sad, but my dad did the best he could.”
When you expressed, “Dad did the best he could,” it did not sound like language that would come out of a three year old. I didn’t say a word and just continued to listen.
“One day mammy came home, she and I went for a walk, when a fast car came and hit me and my mommy, her body fell on top of me and then we flew up to God.”
You were so animated, your arms flying in every direction as you recalled each detail of your previous life. I stared at you, not really sure what to say next.
“Honey, what is God like, mommy can’t remember!” Looking to him for the answers to a question I couldn’t even believe came out of my mouth.
“Oh mommy, God is very nice!” you assured me with eyes the size of saucers.
Were we really having this conversation? I don’t know why I found it so unbelievable after all the experiences I have had in my life, but I guess when you do experience things you become even more skeptical of others. I never spoke to you about God, we don’t go to church, yet the rawness and the way you spoke of God was amazing. I also notice you never gave God a sexual characterization such as he or she like so many Catholic’s or Wiccan’s would. It was beautiful.
Just when I thought you were done you kept going.
“I use to play with God mommy, and then he showed me a picture of you.” You began moving your hands to demonstrate a flat surface as if you were looking down into something.
“You were in a forest. God told me I was a gift for you.” As if a switch was flipped you came back to your three year old self. “Can I have some fruit loops?”
I jolted up-right, not quite ready to come back from what you just told me.
“Uh…sure babe.” I stood up and went back into my motherly routine, but with the sensation of magic and love. I mean, I knew God loved me but to hear it put that way that I was thought of to be given a gift. The gift of you! It took everything I had in me to not shed a tear or gratitude.
You spoke about Billy for quite a while and about how you used to be a man that knew me. You even had a temper tantrum towards your grandmother when she refused to remember you before. I guess you stomped your foot and said, “Nana, why don’t you remember me. We were friends before when I was a man!”
Of course mom called me shortly later to ask what I was feeding you. I laughed and said, “Yes mom, of course, I am telling my son to get angry at you for not remember your past life. Yep, that’s it, you have it figured out!”
Over time you started to tell me less and less about Billy. One day while sitting on my boyfriend’s family sofa you whispered in my ears, “Mommy, I have a secret.”
“Sure honey, what is it?” I asked leaning in.
“You know what I told you about Billy? Well I made it up, I was just using my imagination.”
Remember, you were only three when you told me this so I had a suspicion that the word “Imagination” did not come from you.
“Oh really,” I responded, “Well that’s okay babe.”
Then you pulled me in again. “That’s what we will tell them okay mom? Nobody believes me.”
Ah-ha, I knew it! Something didn’t seem right here.
“Who doesn’t believe you Cole?” Already knowing the answer to that question he answered.
“Nana! She says it’s my imagination but you know Billy is real don’t you mommy? That is why I picked you”
I gave you a confirming hug and from that point on you stopped speaking about it, until Ottilia died.
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