Background: I wrote this post yesterday. I was angry and hurt. I had just been to a therapy session that went well, as therapy does. But it had opened some particularly festering sores. It had scratched things open that I had put into boxes and kicked under beds years ago.
I was going to push the button that said “publish” and then I realised I was writing this from a very hurt and very painful place. I then decided to hold on it, I dropped it into my draft tray and left it there.
Kennith and I spoke last night and I confided in him about things that had happened to me, that I had never told him about. Partly because (a) I had not thought about them in years (b) I had hidden them away to protect myself.
So here is the post from yesterday, but slightly edited ….
I was listening to Cape Talk on my drive about today and they were talking about the Seven Myths of Perfect Parenting and I was a bit taken back.
Here is the list just so you can get some context:-
“I have to be a great parent to be good enough.”
“I have to parent perfectly so my kids will turn out okay.”
“Kids are scarred for life by the mistakes of their parents.” * file that one away for later shall we.
“Someone out there knows exactly how to do parenting the right way.”
“If I don’t teach them everything they need to know, I’m a failure as a parent.”
“If I don’t provide them with everything they want, I’m failing as a provider.”
“It’s important that I be my kids’ friend.”
Loads of moms were phoning in to agree that most of the myths. They were saying yes these were just myths.
Unfortunately I could not listen to the entire piece as I had to get out of the car at some point. Well to be honest, if I did not have to get out of the car, I might well have thrown myself into moving traffic ….
For the little bit I was listening to I started to get upset, like angry and then crying upset. (I also realised that my anger and reaction was totally out of the what would be deemed suitable reaction for what was happening on the show – but it seemed to hit a nerve with me.)
I agreed with many of these statements. These are myths and we often labour ourselves trying to live up to these ideals, which are things we should toss out with last night’s left over wine.
The thing that I was not hearing from these moms who were phoning in, was that you can actually totally “fek” your kid up – like start-investing-in-a-therapy-fund-now-and-abandon-the-university-education-one level of fek up.
I accept that as parents we will not be the perfect parent. I am the poster parent for NOT PERFECT PARENTING – I barely make it on the ballot for “good enough parenting”.
As parents, we will get things wrong, and often kids will be okay …. but – and here is the kicker – some kids will be fine, and others won’t (presenting exhibit A).
I am probably not going to be eloquent here, as my nerves are raw and ragged.
As parents you can totally fuck it up. The effects will resound in our children’s lives, well past adolescents and into adulthood and they will arrive like monsters in the middle of the night or when you lean in to hug your nearest and dearest.
Parents cannot use the “get out of jail free card” and “well, I did the best I could” – that shit does not work for me.
I know I am using profanity, but I am really worked up … so give me some latitude before you report me to the nanny-police.
I sit here as the result of the “I did the best I could with what I had” parenting.
As a thirty freak’n eight years old I am a total stuff up.
We can argue for hours how really stuffed up I am, and who gets to define the level of normal versus stuff up. In my world, I get to make the rules, and I am pretty stuffed up on even a good day – I have a doctor’s note to tell me so.
When you have some time, I will give you a list. Suffice to say that I can win an Academy Award for my ability to “act normal” in so many situation it will bring a tear even to the most jaded eye.
I have relationship issues. I do not have good relationships to mould mine on, I have no clue what I am doing. So I wing it.
Socially I am anxious, because I cannot relax into any social situation.
I do not know what is right and wrong in a social setting. Everything is an act. Everything is “hey look at what so-and-so is doing, I will replicate their action.” But then I drink tons of wine, and it makes me somehow feel better and often behave inappropriately.
I struggle with motherhood each and every day. I am not talking about the “usual” way we all struggle with motherhood.
I feel like I am Sigourney Weaver and I have just had an alien baby and I am trying to mother it. No one has the same alien baby, and we are not on alien baby’s planet, so there are not self-help books on the problems I am experiencing. I am alien, the baby is alien and we are being dragged to a mommy and baby group, where stupid mothers are showing off their advanced children in onesies.
I do not know how to parent or be a mother because I have no one to emulate. Everything, every thing I do is hard – nothing has the faintest smell of natural to me.
When under stress I resort to being an “ugly almost abusive” mother – yes, go and dial child-line now, I will wait while you find the number.
I cannot tell you the discomfort I feel when my children try to hug me or touch me – because of my discomfort with physical contact! (how is them apples for a reveal?)
I struggle to have a relationship with Kennith, who is my partner of 17 years. He is loving, reliable, and a truly wonderful human being – but I do not form healthy attachments (my new word of the week) so I always keep him at an arm’s length in every possible area.
I form no permanent attachments to people or objects. Nothing is permanent in my world. (watch me write off my father, my brother and anything else that just gets a bit too hard)
I have learnt from a young age that there is no one to depend on. No one to fall back on. No one who has my back.
When the shit hits the fan, or there was something that went so wrong or when I needed to run to someone and just be held and comforted, that person was never there. Ever!
On the upside I was not an anxious attacher, as I always knew there would be no one there. It was me – it was me alone! I have formed an independent attachment.
Sure, I hear you say – that is super, you are independent, you are strong and resilient and look at all you have achieved?
Of course I am – I have the cuts and bruises to show for it, but I am a limping damaged individual whose ever day is a pretense of “normality”.
Nothing I do is easy. Nothing I do feels normal. I “act” my way through nearly every situation.
I look around and think “how should I stand to fit in here” “what is the right thing to do here to appear normal” and then I do it. The person I most identify with is “Dexter’ – serial killer movie guy!
Do you know how exhausting and draining it is to act a part every single day – each and every day –with everything? Quick answer – it is excruciating and totally exhausting.
I can never ever open up to Kennith, or rely on him because I cannot rely on him to be there for me (though he has shown me a thousand times over that he will always be there for me).
I cannot believe in my heart of hearts that he can be relied on.
Is not the act of loving someone just that? That you allow yourself to fall into them (physically/spiritually or what ever) totally. You make yourself vulnerable to them, and allow them to be there for you when you fall or allow yourself to fall.
I don’t. I can’t.
Every time Kennith leaves the house, I have made a mental plan that he is not coming back.
I have already worked out a plan of what I will do when he does not come back. Even before he has completely reversed out the drive way. I have worked out what I will say when people offer me their condolences – I know what the fitting response should be.
I cannot love Kennith in that totally unabandoned run-through-the-daisies sort of way … I can’t love anyone in that way. I am robbed, and so is he (my poor egg!).
Why? Because I cannot trust he will be there when I need him to be. I do not trust anyone.
We can argue that Kennith is a helluva reliable guy, and he has always been there for you. He is and always has been– a good egg! It is nothing that he has done, but he unfortunately bears the brunt of it.
My reality (maybe not THE reality), but MY REALITY is still to only depend on me. I cannot trust another.
That is what I have been taught from a very young age. The lesson has been reinforced time and time again. My coping or survival mechanism was created and I needed it to get through my shit, to survive my stuff.
I have spent years in therapy. I have done psychologists, psychiatrists, hypnotherapists, psychologist-hyno-therapists, self help books, screaming into the night, ingestion large amounts of alcohol, anti-depressants, combining too much alcohol with sleeping tablets (the fun years) and short of singing kumba-ya around the fireplace, I feel I have done just about everything in the last 10 years to fix me.
What I know now is that I am a very broken individual.
There it is said – I am broken, and when all is said and done I actually can blame my parent (s), why shouldn’t I?
I have recently starting seeing a fabulous therapist. She has given me a glimmer – a mild glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe she can’t fix me totally, but she can repair me a little.
That alone is ALMOST enough to get me out of bed in the mornings.
I get at thirty-frek’n-eight to face ANOTHER long long road of healing, because in short of the crap my mother (and father) did because they thought “they did what they could” was good enough.
Now what has this to do with the Cape Talk show you wonder?
I am a result of “well we did the best we could” parenting!
Here I am – standing before you with all my idiosyncrasies and bizarre shit that I present every other day on this blog.
This is not a persona, this is not the dancing monkey show for pennies, this is my freak’n life! Every tear, every cry in the shower, every just-get-through-today is me – this is my shit!
I have done my being angry at my mother because well she fucked up. I had my year back in 2004 where I was angry all day every day at her. It nearly killed me. I got a bit of institutionalization, and though I did not get my peace, I did get a bit more self-aware.
I have not forgiven her – nope, not there yet. I have however decided to construct a relationship with her that protects me, and still manages to give the impression of a largely functioning mother-and-daughter relationship.
On one level I accept it is done and nothing can be undone. There is no Cntl+Z on my life!
Someone who loves me, commented that I should not remain in the past, I should move on.
I am not here out of choice. I do not choose to drag this shit with me to make myself a more interesting person or so that I can self-fund the wine community of the Western Cape. I am here because I DO NOT HAVE ANY CHOICE and I DID NOT DO THIS SHIT TO ME!
I do not choose to be this crap horrible individual who finds happiness bitter, and well not very often.
I do feel an overriding urge to bitch slap someone who tells me to “decide to wake up happy and then I will be!”
My childhood shit is being dragged into my adult hood and has paralyzing me.
I totally get that other people have crappier childhoods than me, and they go on to be president or CEO’s , whoop-whoop!! Big fat ice-cream lollipop for them.
Me, not so much.
I do not care that my mother did the best she could.
I actually do not give a hoot, good enough was not enough on this one.
What I do care about is that I managed to get through my child and adolescent years and forced myself to be a good scholar and a good girl. I played by the rules, and I decided that I needed to get to adulthood in one piece – without any help from my family situation.
Everything I did I did on my own! I survived.
I am angry today because at thirty freaking eight, I am still fixing the crap that my mother did because she did not do good parenting.
And that folks is the bitter and ugly truth.
So when you sit and make your kids feel better that there are no monsters under the bed, maybe you can also give some thought that the scarier monster is the one calling themselves parent!
<I am sure tomorrow I will publish a retracting post, as clearly this one is way too emotional and is sounding a little fractured, but this, this is how I feel right now…sleep well…>