I am asking you this question because it is a phenomenon that has come into my awareness several times over the last week as if it’s asking to be explored. Let me start with a story to give you context.
I recently met a woman who is getting divorced after 33 years of marriage. The exact reasons for this decision are not part of this article. What struck me about her situation was that here she was in her third age only just discovering who she was really and what mattered to her. For most of her life she had lived by the rules laid down in her culture. Rules that are often tacit. The unspoken truth of being female for someone of her heritage is that women and what they desire count for nothing. They are “the property” of their men folk: initially their fathers; latterly their husbands. This way of being was so ingrained that for many years she didn’t even question it.
The cost of following the rules is felt in the quality of relationship with yourself. What happened in this story and in many lives is illustrated beautifully in the words of Erik Pevernagie:
Let us listen to the needs of our inner child that is being tamed and imprisoned by the rules of a grown-up world.
Earlier on in the week I was heading on to Dartmoor with my family for a 15km walk with the dog. My husband had chosen a spot which fit all the criteria and was fairly close to where we were staying. I don’t know if you have been to Dartmoor but there are not many roads and so ways to cross it. We got within a few miles of our destination and it said that the road ahead was closed. My husband fumed about it and looked for another way round before eventually following the diversion that took us about 40 miles out of our way!
What else could you do?
Some years back one of the country lanes around where we lived was closed. I was on my own and decided to continue down it and see if the way was really impossible to navigate. I got to the part where the road was closed due to the fact that work men had dug a large hole in the road. With careful navigation I was able to get round it and continue on my way.
Why do we approach things differently?
My husband is much more risk averse than me and tends not to question the rules of the game perhaps that’s why he was head boy and I never made it to being a prefect. He respects the established order. He believed that the road would be impassible.
It was only after we were on the detour that he questioned why we had not had an alert by google. After our walk, on which this photo came from, we were in a local pub and asked them about the diversion. They knew nothing about it.
In the end we went back through the Dartmeet the place that had been our original destination. We ended up going elsewhere to save time and get out onto the moor in the sunshine. It turned out that the work had already been completed but the workmen had not taken down any of the road closed or diversion signs!
At the time I said nothing as there would have been nothing to gain from pointing all this out to him. I did however have a little silent chuckle to myself. And I am sharing it with you so you can consider how your relationship with your inner child is. Is it imprisionsed in the rules of a grey grown-up world? To what extent have you started the reparenting that we all need to do? Do rules and responsibilities define us as Neil Gaiman suggests? I would love to know what you think so feel free to comment.