After nearly five years of feeling like a fish out of water, I’m happy to report that I am finally starting to feel like myself. If you’ve read some of my previous posts you might recall that moving to Texas has been less than pleasant, to say the least. There’s been a considerable amount of meditation and soul-searching, a lot of introspection that I couldn’t quite articulate. I’ve been digging deep into my childhood and discovering the experiences that shaped me… both the good and the bad. So far my internal exploration has revealed a lot, such as how my relationship with my mother has affected the way I relate to others.
We’ve all read a book, article or blog about how our self-esteem was affected by the way our mothers treated us as children and how that may affect our relationships as adults. Like it or not, our relationship with our mother will have a lifelong influence on our personality, behavior and self-esteem. If we’re lucky, that legacy has been an overwhelmingly positive one. But what happens when you are raised by a ‘difficult’ mother?
For most, regardless of the problems, struggles and conflicts, between parents and their children, their relationship is mostly comforting and supportive. However, for some, there’s more pain in the mother-child relationship than comfort and pleasure.
My childhood was bewildering and volatile due to my mother’s violent and unpredictable outbursts. I lived in a constant state of high alert, waiting for the next emotional explosion. Often, Mom would take offense at the smallest imagined slight and would abruptly stop talking to me as punishment for ‘insulting’ her in some way. (Even as I type this I’m afraid that should she find my blog, she might get offended by my words and stop talking to me – again.) I remember feeling that I was constantly wrong. There was constant pressure to be subservient yet I was still expected to shine.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not complaining about my “miserable” childhood. We had some wonderfully happy moments too and some good did come out of growing up in the emotional roller coaster that was life with mom. But this “exercise” is about figuring myself out and understanding myself in order to make better choices as a person, become a better parent and maybe discover why I’ve had such a difficult time finding a suitable mate (Things seems to be going well in that department).
Ideally a child is born to be curious and spontaneous. When said child is allowed to spend her childhood learning to be her authentic self and building her self worth and self esteem she may be better prepared for adulthood. As the eldest child I was expected to be the strong, sensible one, at times Mom’s confidant, best friend, rescuer, partner, her scapegoat, and sometimes even her rival. Always feeling like whatever I did was never enough. I never realized until very recently that even now as an adult, I’ve continued some of these roles for others, being codependent, struggling with anxiety, feeling unworthy or even depressed. These tendencies hinder me professionally by keeping me from reaching my full potential and on a personal level preventing me from making genuine friendships and emotional connections.
Perhaps these aren’t huge discoveries but to me it’s like being able to see after acquiring the proper prescription lenses and realizing that all this time there has been a huge elephant in the room that I couldn’t see before. There a certain kind of freedom with the acknowledgement of your “handicaps” which then leads you to co-exist with this enormous elephant in the room allowing for new experiences.
Slowly I am becoming calmer, more aware of my true feelings and gaining a better understanding of myself. I like this new and improved version!