Words are powerful things. My mom used to tell me, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

I thought sadly to myself, “Yeah. They only hurt your FEELINGS”. And somehow concluded that meant that feelings didn’t matter. Or they weren’t supposed to.

So I began dismissing my feelings, ignoring them and certainly never admitted them to others.

I know I’m not alone in this. How do these kinds of things happen?

I was raised by a loving mom and dad who were not abusive, extremely self-controlled and highly intelligent people. Maybe too intelligent?

At the age of 3, I distinctly remember crying with all of my family standing all around laughing at whatever it was that made me cry. I guess the reason wasn’t important to them, but it just left me feeling that they didn’t care how I felt.

Another time I must have been whining about something. My dad flexed his biceps in an Arnold Schwarzenegger pose and said staunchly, “BE A MAN!”, as though somehow any kind of weakness was a sin — and certainly being a woman meant being less than a man.

It took me years to rejoice in my femininity, to allow myself to be vulnerable, and to express my true feelings without thinking I had to be Spock-like.

The good news is, I got over it!

My own kids were a big part of the cure. Seeing their innocent expressions of feeling made me realize that mine were valuable too. And beautiful to behold.

I’m never going back, either!

I drew this picture as a teenager, when I suddenly realized we are all in the same leaky boat: 

“It’s OK, I’m You, TOO!” Ruth Elliott-Hilsdon

Nowadays, connecting with children and their parents at the store, dentist’s office, schools or wherever I go, confirms what I feel deep inside, that:

“It’s OK, I’m You, TOO!” 

We all need each other. If you can, will you help? After 27 years in the Animation Industry, Ruth founded the non-profit EDU DESIGNS to create media for children’s character development and education.