I could be in this video. One of my grandfathers had Tourette’s Syndrome, the other grandfather had an undiagnosed movement disorder manifesting in physical and vocal tics. The onset of my tics was somewhere around age 5 or 6.
Other children would pull away from me, stare at me, laugh at me.
My lonely heart provoked me to try suppressing “the jerks,” as I called the jerky, persistent tics. Each new elementary school I entered (and there were 5 of them) brought new resolve to ignore the urges, quiet the sounds and hide the tics, to no avail. Finally, when I was ten years old, something happened and I don’t know what it was, but I was able to resist the urges. At first, I resisted only at school but gave in to them at home. Then, even the urges quieted and the struggle faded into the background of my life.
Partly as a result of this experience, I am mindful of how adversity has a profound impact on our life purpose.
I experienced adversity through ridicule and shunning for five of my early years. Therefore, I (unconsciously) made it my mission to find as many ways to connect as a little girl ever could. And I succeeded. Years ago, I did a Strengthsfinder assessment and my Number One strength is Connectedness.
I find meaning in life by building bridges.
In Child-Centered Spirituality, Connectedness appears in my desire to guide adults as they assist children in integrating all the “parts” of themselves–spirit, body, mind, emotions. In order to do that I draw upon the wisdom of many because I need other people. There’s a lot I don’t know.
Connectedness shows up in Spiritual Direction appointments when people ask me to facilitate their connection with the divine. It’s there when I lead support groups that provide an environment for people to connect with each other for strength, hope and experience. And so on.
From this painful chapter of my young life flows a perspective that I can share with you for the children in your life.
- Children have a limited vocabulary, but they feel and suffer just as adults do.
- A child’s adversity possesses glorious purpose.
- Difficulties in our earlier years often propel us to ultimately accomplish much good.
- After a time of processing childhood adversity with a trusted person (counselor, mentor, relative), some adolescents experience a mid-course attitude correction that redirects them away from negative consequences and points them in positive directions.
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