An exploration of what I meant when I wanted things as a child

  This is not the photo I'm referring to, but it's me and my dad in Jamaica.

This is not the photo I'm referring to, but it's me and my dad in Jamaica.

For several months, I kept a photo of myself as a toddler visible amongst my cluttered shelf of sentimental trinkets. Smiling, affectionate, ringlet-ed out and at The Cottage (my happy place), I didn’t see how that toddler could’ve possibly grown into...me. I kept it there as a reminder that this was who I used to be - I could get back to it.

A thing I’ve learned, however, is that who I was as a toddler really didn’t go anywhere. She was just suppressed, restrained, traumatized and could only focus on the black and white of things. I’ve been busting my ass through Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and through it, I've realized that I am an extremely judgemental person towards myself. I owe my child-self an explanation and a lot of compassion, so I decided to explore the middle path of my childhood desires and where I am now…

What I wanted as a child, what I really meant, and what I have now

What I wanted as a child: A “real” family.
What I really wanted: My parents to show me love the way I assumed everyone else’s parents showed them – the “right” way.
What I have as an adult: An understanding of my parents; an empathy I didn't know I could muster; a relationship with them that works for all of us - as individuals.

What I wanted as a child: A sister.
What I really wanted: Someone to be close to the way I thought I couldn’t be close to other people.
What I have as an adult: A group of loving, ambitious, talented, dedicated women who love me as unconditionally as I love them.

What I wanted as a child: A bigger bedroom.
What I really wanted: A safe space to feel free and comfortable with ample room to grow, where I understood my worth wasn’t confined to a tiny box.
What I have as an adult: A gorgeous apartment filled with a dog, love, laughter, bottles of wine, and parties (oh, and NO CARPETS...OR YELLING, unless it's funny).

What I wanted as a child: Straight hair.
What I really wanted: To feel like I was pretty.
What I have as an adult: A beautiful mane that represents both sides of my family; versatility; understanding that my hair is not an indicator of my inner or outer beauty.

What I wanted as a child: A different name.
What I really wanted: To separate myself from who I thought I was.
What I have as an adult: An appreciation for my (never shortened) name that carries an interesting history; gratefulness that my mom didn’t let my dad name me; an identity I’ve reclaimed.

What I wanted as a child: To leave the country and never come back.
What I really wanted: To feel like I could be forgiven; to find the ever-elusive “home.”
What I have as an adult: The feeling that Toronto truly is my home, no matter where I’ve been and how much I loved it.

What I wanted as a child: A dog.
What I really wanted: My own pet; to not be yelled at about it.
What I have as an adult: The love of my life, Evvy.

What I wanted as a child: To be understood.
What I really wanted: To know and love myself.
What I have as an adult: All that, and more.