Four-year-old Emily is angry at her mother and yells, “You’re a bad mommy!” Mother, pregnant, frustrated and exhausted herself, snaps back, “Be quiet, you are giving me a headache!” (I know that is not good parenting, but unfortunately it is all too common.)
Later when mother has severe morning sickness, Emily is scared because she knows that something is very wrong but does not understand what it is. Her immature mind figures out that if she can give mother a headache, she must be responsible for this problem too. After all, she still thinks angry thoughts when things don’t go her way.
Emily tells herself this story: “I’m a bad girl because I made mommy sick.” She then decides that from now on, she should be good and not make any demands or complaints and essentially freezes the exuberant, demanding, alive part of herself.
As a responsible and successful grownup woman, Emily has long since forgotten that she once created this story, but the story she now tells herself is about how much she is supposed to be doing. She exhausts herself by trying to take care of everything and everyone around her. She feels stressed and anxious about managing all the demands of her busy life.
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