All the way up

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“Can you give me a time frame for growing up?” she asks.

“Like how long it takes to get there?” I say.

“Right.”

“No,” I say.  “Because I’m not sure there’s a There there.”

“You don’t think people grow up?”

“Sure,” I say.  “Just not all the way.”

“Explain.” 

“Okay,” I say.  “I think there’s always a Kid part inside, and the Kid always needs parenting.   I think most of us spend our lives trying to get others to parent us — to understand, accept, support, protect and love us unconditionally.  I think we do it automatically and unconsciously and often manipulatively.  And I think that’s what keeps us feeling like kids inside. 

“On the other hand, when we accept responsibility for the Kid and learn to parent it adequately we grow up inside.  That’s probably as grownup as anybody gets. 

“Unfortunately. lots of people think growing up means you killing the Kid off.”

“I do,” she nods.  “I think of grownup as being totally self-sufficient.”

“And I think that’s a kind of emotional perfectionism.  It’s unrealistic and counterproductive and cruel.” 

“Cruel how?”

“In the way all pefectionism is,” I say.   “It’s self-abuse disguised as self-improvement.”

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