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It's never too late to experience a happy childhood

Posted Jun 03 2010 3:05am
Long before I was a psychotherapist, I decided it was never too late to have a happy childhood.

A personal experience:

I never attended my high school prom. I was too nerdy, too shy and too lacking in social skills to enjoy this highlight milestone of high school.

Later, when I was in my 30s, I had the good luck to work as a reporter and editor for the morning newspaper in Lancaster, Pa. I decided to assign myself to attend a high school prom and write about the experience.

I had girlfriends who went “prom dress” shopping with me, giggling and waiting patiently as I finally picked a filmy gown with a peach colored sash and pearl buttons. I found Jerry, a wise-cracking and adventurous male friend who agreed to be my date, resplendent in a borrowed black tuxedo. My good friends, Patti and Joe, lent their house for the big evening. Other friends bought their children for pictures and silliness. An elderly neighbor man showed up to play the kind grandfather role.

Everyone cheered  and clapped as I dramatically descended the staircase and – YES! – took pictures of me and my companion in front of the fireplace, my fluffy and flowery wrist corsage in full view.

Then we went off to the prom, finishing the evening with an early morning breakfast at a local diner. It was a wonderful evening and I love the warm memories that I hold within me today, more than 20 years later.

In my psychotherapy sessions, I sometimes challenge my clients to identify an experience that they did  not have the opportunity to have in their own lives, something that shadows their days with the sad feeling of "missing out." Then we explore how we can consciously create that experience in safe, positive and healthy way so that it becomes a part of their lives.

What have you missed? What ideas do you have to repair that experience?
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