I’ve been reparenting myself over the last couple of years, but I couldn’t possibly go back to my past without returning to my beloved summers watching ABC soaps.
I guess I’m on a roll where my childhood is concerned.
True, what they say is correct: You can’t go back, and it’s important to understand what it is we truly miss about childhood.
But if you encountered trauma in your childhood, or you endured a somewhat rocky relationship with your parents, it’s important to reparent yourself in order to heal.
What does it mean to “reparent” yourself?
According to happierhuman.com:
Reparenting yourself is when you reflect on your life, identify the areas of your life where you have failed as a result of being poorly parented as a child, and decide how you will address those shortcomings as an adult. It is about teaching yourself, experimentation, and searching for guidance that you didn’t get as a child.How to Reparent Yourself: A 7-step Guide
I’ve been on a journey to reparent myself since around 2015, when I started my first blog.
I didn’t know that writing on a private space would cause me to break open, but honestly, those early days of blogging when I was writing to an open world without telling a soul were some of the most authentic–and healing–writings of my life.
I allowed myself to journey back to childhood. First, I only remembered bad. I wrote a lot about those experiences of living with a weedy vine that wrapped around my family tree.
But then, over time, after I made peace with my family and God over past hurt, I started to clear my memories of the bad and think about all the good–and there was so much!
There were days riding bikes around the neighborhood with friends.
There were dance recitals at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson for the Mary Jane Savage School of Dance. Afterwards, we’d all head to the 24/7 breakfast buffet at Shoney’s in Clinton.
By far, my favorite childhood memories involve my summer days spent in the Delta.
Clarksdale, Mississippi, was the home of my ancestors, who had arrived in New Orleans from Sicily at the turn of the century.
Although a few stayed behind in NOLA, my great-great grandmother, Mary, and her husband,” Kissipapa,” he was called, settled in the land of the Blues.
There they raised a family, twelve kids in all, among whom my great-grandmother Nettie, a wild soul I’m told I favor, was counted.
She gave birth to my grandmother fairly young. In turn, my grandmother had children young, and so did my father.
So did I. I don’t regret it one bit.
Both my grandmother and my mother watched ABC soaps.
All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital. Even Loving and Port Charles, though short-lived, were adored by the women in my life.
I grew up watching the many failed marriages of Erica Kane, the trials and tribulations of Trevor and “Janet from another planet,” and the often-disastrous plans of Adam Chandler, foiled much of the time by his lovable twin brother, Stuart.
There was Dixie and Tad, Edmund and Brooke and the fantastic Opal.
And let’s never forget Hayley and Mateo. Be still my heart.
The most memorable soap opera intro of all time. Change my mind.
One Life to Live was another favorite, and I never knew whether or not I was rooting for Victoria or Dorian on any given day. Both of the actresses who played them the longest, Erika Slezak and Robin Strasser, were iconic in my eyes.
My grandmother had a routine: wake up, cook breakfast, bathe, put on makeup, start lunch, begin her “tapes,” go to the store (every day, I kid you not), then come home and watch her taped soaps.
My routine was largely the same. Though sometimes I would hang out with cousins while she shopped, for the most part, I followed my grandma around like her shadow.
And since I’d only stay a couple of weeks every summer, of course, when I got back home, I had to know what was going on with my favorite soap actors.
It was then, sitting in my bedroom at twelve, that I was introduced to the most amazing love stories of all time:
Brenda and Jagger, and Robin and Stone. Two General Hospital couples for the ages.
(My older soap fans will argue that Luke and Laura take that title. I’d agree, but I was too young to appreciate them.)
Through Brenda and Jagger, I learned that love covers a multitude of
crimes sins, although, to be honest, I could have picked that up from any number of soap storylines.
But it was the Robin and Stone storyline that taught me so much more.
You see, I was living in a time of great change. The mid-90s were coming, the heyday of MTV’s Rock the Vote and The Real World. People my age were discovering that there were all kinds of humans in the world, people like Pedro Zamora, who passed away after a horrific battle with AIDS, a new and frightening disease, especially among the gay community, who were feeling all the blame placed on their shoulders for this disease–and all the ostracizing, too.
Teens like me were coming into our own, and wondering if we might be the generation to turn the tide on racism, bigotry and hate. (It’s not looking too good right now, but I’m still hoping we will be.)
I look back at my days of youth and realize how much my heart was shaped for good by the situations and characters I encountered on ABC soaps.
Especially these iconic women characters, the Erica Kanes, Victoria and Dorian Lords, the Greenlees and Kendalls and Hayleys and Biancas and Brookes, these women taught me to be who I really was: audaciously authentic.
Through Brenda, I learned to be independent.
Felicia taught me that it was okay to be cute.
Opal gave me peace about my slightly “white trash” past, and the Quartermaine women taught me how to put up with the alpha male.
And sweet Robin Scorpio. She taught me what it means to die well.
Not only that, but I saw more Black characters on ABC soaps than just about any other television series.
Angie Baxter and Jessie Hubbard? The greatest! I still picture Angie’s dimpled smile when I close my eyes.
There were single moms, working women, women who loved other women.
There were good divorces (to be fair, bad one, too), and there were all kinds of backgrounds, terrible and privileged, these women overcame.
And whether or not you agree with those ideals of womanhood or not, there’s no denying that we learned more about the various kinds of women in the world.
If you ask me, we need to bring back Soap Operas.
Though the title got its name through the menial task women carried of washing dishes, the not-even-close-to-sneaky way that soap operas elevated women to roles they would have rarely gotten in real life made these almost hour-long serials the beloved pieces of TV nostalgia they are today.
I bet many of us can think back to summers spent around the tube; and while maybe your preferred soaps were on CBS, such as The Young and the Restless, or NBC- hello, Days of Our Lives– the feeling is still the same:
Caught between commercials of hand soap, high heels, diapers and dishwasher detergent, women ruled the day. They called the shots, they got the work done, they loved good (and horrible) men, and they did it all while looking their best.
I look back on the days of soaps with fond memories.
And lately, while reparenting myself, I’ve been watching recordings of old soaps on YouTube.
I’m instantly transported back to Port Charles, Llanview and Pine Valley.
I’m a young woman, once again, ready to take on the world with audacious authenticity.
For the first time in a long time, I believe I’ll be that woman.
I am that woman.
See you soon,
P.S.- Rumor is, the real-life Hayley and Mateo, Kelly Ripa and her husband Mark Consuelos, are in the midst of an ABC soaps reboot! Fingers crossed!
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