Peace of Eden Series no. 20

‘Make your own recovery, the first priority in your life’ Robin Norwood

We can walk with the wild Meerkats of the Ungulungu family in the Meerkat Magic valley now. We can see where they go and what they eat. There is a sense of adventurous excitement and ‘wind-blowing-through-your-hair’ freedom.

The Meerkats on the outskirts of the groups seem much more vulnerable. Are they ‘rookies’, the forage-food-finding learners? More energy expended for less food?

As humans, we are more vulnerable the younger we are, more dependent on others to take care of us. The most resource-less baby born to any species is a human baby! We take five foundational years to develop the emotional, cognitive and psychological resources that enable us to leave the security of home and family to go to school. Compare that to the birth of a baby springbok or elephant calf that can stand up and walk immediately after birth.

We are most vulnerable when we don’t have enough good mothering (from our own mothers or fathers) in those initial foundational, growing-up years. Grant, the Meerkat Man, campaigns against taming meerkats and keeping them as pets. He mentions how as pets they never grow up, they constantly demand attention, beg for food and remain dependent on the human pet owners they have imprinted on. Unlike their wild brothers and sisters who are able to feed themselves from the age of 6 months.. How can tame meerkats possibly get enough species-specific mothering from a caretaker who is not even of their own species!? There are many physically developed human adults who are emotionally immature children inside, they too are demanding, irrational and don’t know how to ‘feed’ and take good care of themselves. Good mothering in any species engenders good self-care in mature adults.

The most vulnerable people I see as clients in my Psychotherapeutic practice are those who have been emotionally or physically abused as children, often by the very people who are supposed to love and be available to take care of them in appropriate ways. In order to survive they often have to be very vigilant and constantly preoccupied with taking care of the ‘not coping’ parent or avoiding the abusive parent. As a result they learn a way of relating that becomes entrenched in their adult lives. They have probably left home physically, but take with them these learnt ways of surviving, they no longer look out for the well-being of their mothers or fathers at their own expense, but now of their partners, their boss, etc. These adults experience an empty void inside and a sense of worthlessness. It is these people who are most vulnerable to being used, taken-for-granted and abused.

The answer: take a journey of self-discovery. Get the love and support you need. Take the risk of valuing yourself, listening to your own needs. Say ‘no’ when you are disadvantaged or compromised. Don’t rescue and take care of others who should be taking care of themselves, just so you can feel worthwhile. Connect with the special person you were created to be!

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us!, Ralph Waldo Emerson.