On Being a Wife
My mother thrived on drama, so it stands to reason that this would overflow into her marriage. Anytime that there was a hint of a reason for her to fight, she used it. I was never witness to a healthy marriage while growing up, and to this day, I have to guess if I am doing marriage correctly. I have learned that you work through marriage, mainly on emotions, not manipulation.
On Being a Mother
I have shared some of my experiences with my mother HERE. She was mentally unhealthy, and as a child, I feared her. I never felt love from her (or towards anyone, for that matter), so I took the little attention she did give me and ran with it. Now that I am a mother, I find myself overcompensating for my own childhood. Since I was raised in a volatile household, one of my big fears is that my children will experience the same thing. Simple things like spending time together after school or cooking together were not something I was able to have, so now I go through those motions blindly.
On Being a Friend
My mom didn’t have friends, and she never helped me with my own friendships. The few relationships that I did see her have were short, usually because she made someone mad. Growing up, when I had school drama or issues with friends, she would offer advice like “Don’t talk to them then,” “Go sit somewhere else,” “I know her mom, and I don’t like her,” and “What did you do to make her mad at you?” So you see, I was never able to see true friendship or had help navigating them. I still have my hangups about making and keeping up with friends. I wasn’t taught the valuable parts of maintaining friendships, and it is still something I constantly struggle with.
On Being Mentally Healthy
My mom made me anxious. She did not take care of herself mentally, and in turn, her feelings and emotions fell on me. I was taught that you kept your feelings to yourself as a kid, and if you were unhappy, well, then it’s probably because you caused it. There was a time that I was seeing a therapist for my inability to stay focused in school. In one of our sessions, my mother made sure to ask him if he thought that my “issues” were because I was jealous of her. I was eight.
On How to Keep a Job
My mother never worked. She was in school for about ten years pursuing degree after degree, most likely to avoid the need to get a job, so I never saw any work ethic from her. My mother depended on others to help her live. To her, jobs were for women who couldn’t find a man to take care of them. There was never any emphasis on my education, even though our family sacrificed a lot for hers. The few times she got a job, for whatever reason, she was either fired or quit within a matter of days. Of course, the reasons were never HER fault. Now I realize the importance of holding on to employment. This is something that I feel like my children need to see from me. I would never want them to feel like they need to be carried by someone else.
On Maintaining a Good Self-Esteem
My mother had an eating disorder most of her life, and she was able to pass on her negative body issues to both my sister and I. For most of our lives we watched her barely eat, workout various times in a day, stare at herself in her mirror, and listened to her complain to us about how “fat” she was. She usually weighed less than 120 lbs and took really good care of herself, but she never saw herself in a positive light. She would tell me about dreams that she would have where I was “really skinny and looked so good.” Now I am extra cautious about saying anything negative about myself in front of my daughter. Maybe my mother thought what she told me was innocent, but those words have stayed with me some 20 years later. I never want my daughter to feel bad about herself because of my careless words.
Even though I was not taught some pretty big life skills, and it is an internal struggle to have to teach them to myself, I find there has been a lot of good that has come from having to do so. I am able to show my children that while I might not have had the best childhood, you can always turn that around.