I was allowed to cry over lasagna


When was the last time I truly allowed myself to be taken over by my feelings?

I guess I was about four years old, I had made lasagna with my grandparents who had left shortly after we put the food in the over to cook because my father had come back from work. I had waited on the floor in front of the oven for 30 minutes, observing the whole cooking process in detail, when I finally heard the timer beep my father took out the dish and dropped it. The kitchen floor was covered in red sauce, sticky cheese and shattered glass, and I was somewhere in the middle of it, unable to stop crying.

That moment I felt completely taken over by emotions. I felt disappointed that I was not going to be able to taste the food I had helped to prepare. I felt angry at my father for not being more careful. I felt fear caused by the sound of the fall and the disaster around me. I felt hungry, I felt sad, I felt confused… I just felt so many things at the same time, I was completely overwhelmed.

What happened afterwards was according to my parents’ usual reaction to my feelings. First my father just left me crying, he didn’t notice my tears. Then my mother entered the house and told em to stop being so pathetic, to get over it and help her to fix us another meal. But when I didn’t stop crying as she pleased, she reminded my father that I was his daughter and he should make me stop, so he grabbed me and took me upstairs, threw me against my wardrobe and told me I had to listen to my mother.

I cried myself to sleep that night.

I wrote about this memory before, about a year ago when I actually blamed myself for being too sensitive. In ADHD and Emotional Rejection, I said that the emotions I had felt that evening where caused by my ADHD devil, who twists reality or fails to see the whole picture. I did no say that my parents’ behavior was good, I was able to see that how they had handled my tears was far from healthy, I understood that they had failed to provide me the comfort and safety I needed, but I also blamed myself, for feeling too much things that didn’t truly exist. I blamed myself for feeling, but I guess I was wrong.

I was four years old! I was just a child that was upset about something and needed help to pass the sadness, or confusion mostly I guess. There had been clatter, my father had been cursing, the red sauce was everywhere like blood and I had been so proud that we were about to eat food that I had helped making and now it was gone. I was allowed to be upset, even if it was just for the confusion I felt in that moment, the whole scene is just a recipe for a child’s tears.

I was allowed to cry, and then there should have been a parent, there should have been someone that would tell me that it was so sad that the lasagna had been lost and that I did so well making it. There should have been someone who would tell my father to quit his cursing since it only made everything worse for me. There should have been someone who would pick me up from the floor and take me away from the mess to calm me down. There should have been someone who would have understood me, or at least validated my feelings, someone who would have made me feel safe in the chaos of emotions rushing through me.

But my parents where never these people. Instead of holding my hand while I grew up and discovered the world, they left me alone. I never learned what safety is, I never learned how other people can help and support me, I never learned that I have a voice that needs to be listened to. I was nothing, nothing for my parents, nothing for myself and nothing for everything else in this world.

“Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”

Catherine M. Wallace – Seven Don’ts Every Parent Should Do

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