Growing up, I was largely left to meet my own needs, sooth myself when I was scared, and manage my own pain. As a child, we don't really have the skills to nurture ourselves, so instinctively, we do what will help us survive in the moment. To keep myself "safe" I withdrew into my own little world...a world I could control and manage. In that world I was seen and my needs were met. In that world, I was special and safe and powerful.
Escaping through various means whether daydreaming or addictions or denial is both instinctual and learned. It can keep us safe in the moment but it does not create the rich soil our souls need to grow.
When I got married and had children, I did not know how to care for them. Every expectation from me felt like an impossible task. It felt like I was a toddler being asked to unload the groceries from the car and put them away. Emotionally, I was a toddler, still seeking out the person who was going to take care of me.
Because I wanted my family to have what I lacked as a child, I had to learn the art of caring. It didn't come naturally for me. At first it was painful. I felt I was loosing myself. At times I was bitter, angry and empty. Over time, however, I learned to do things that ALSO brought ME joy and nourished my own soul at the same time. I learned the art of nurturing was really an expression of myself, that would expand my natural gifting. I also learned the science behind nurturing, and that I could do certain things that would automatically, through the laws of nature, create healing for myself and provide a healthy growing place for my family. I learned bringing beauty into spaces gave me joy and it was not frivolous, but a necessity for authenticity and developing our specific family culture. I also learned that even though being touched overwhelmed me, physical connection was necessary for emotional connection. When I chose to hold hands, wrestle, and engage in long lap hugs, it went a LONG way for meeting relational needs, including my own, and buying my needed alone time.
Nurturing is both an art of expression based on who you are and your natural bent; and it is a science that can be learned and expressed with precision to most effectively meet the needs of the people and things around us that we care about.
What are your favorite ways to nurture and what things have you chosen to do based on the need of the one you are caring for?