Monday, April 11, 2011

Opening Old Wounds

First of all, I have to admit that I went against my own better judgment last night...I watched OWN, which I had vowed I would never do! However, they lured me in with a show about Naomi and Wynnona Judd--when it comes to women in country music, I'm not likely to discriminate against any network.

While the show was entertaining, and informative (I learned a little more about their life prior to "making it big"), it was also a little more difficult to watch than I'd expected. Listening to them talk about their mother/daughter relationship, and watching them brought back a lot of stuff I keep trying to forget/get rid of/get over.

From what I can remember of my younger years, my mother and I had a good relationship then. She was a stay at home mother, so she was the person I spent the most time with every day. Since I learned to read between the ages of three and four, I can only presume that she was instrumental in teaching me. From the look of all the pictures of my preschool and early elementary years, I appear to be a very happy child.

Things started to change as I changed, somewhere around 11 or 12. As I entered puberty, I became more and more introverted. Rather than being outside playing with the neighborhood kids after school, I chose to spend more of my time reading, writing, and/or listening to music. My mother didn't understand this at all, and began to refer to me as "not normal." The same woman who would always tell me I wasn't everyone else when I would ask to do something that "everyone else" was doing, was now also asking me why I couldn't be like everyone else. That was a conundrum that I could never quite work out in my mind.

From that time on, I've never felt that I was "good enough" for my mother...definitely not the daughter she wanted me to be. She wanted me to be a nurse, and was disappointed when I quit nursing school in my second quarter. During the nine months I stayed at home and took charge of all the cleaning and cooking, to make things easier on her (she was by that time a single mother), I don't remember ever hearing that I had done a good was always "Why isn't this done?" or "Why can't you do that better?"

Even when I graduated from college, and was out on my own, I was still a disappointment to my mother. I wasn't a good wife, I wasn't a good mother, I was always lacking in some way. I felt as though I was expected to achieve perfection, and I knew that I was never going to be that person.

I kept all these feelings to myself for a long time, just letting it all build up inside me until I wouldn't be able to cope with them anymore. The first time I felt unable to cope was when I was 18 and in nursing school...that time around, I tried to take my life. The next time, I was 22, and I went to see a psychologist, worried that what my mother had been telling me for years--that I was crazy--was the truth of the matter. From the time the psychologist told me that I was NOT crazy, but that he sensed someone trying to manipulate me and run my life (based on my answers to psychological testing), I felt a little stronger and was able to take it for a much longer period of time.

However, when my daughters were teenagers and starting to balk at visits with their grandmother, because of the same issues, it was time to put my foot down. I wrote a rather lengthy letter to my mother, telling her how she had made me feel for years, and why, and then telling her what she was doing to my girls that seemed to be along the same vein. Then I let her know, in no uncertain terms, that if the behavior didn't change, her contact with the girls would be severely limited in the future.

Since that time, I've seen great strides of improvement in our relationship. For the most part, we have a friendlier, more mature and closer relationship. I'm very glad that we were able to iron things out so that both of us can move on, and so that neither of us will ever have to deal with regrets. I just wish that I could somehow reach a point where things like a television show won't always bring it all flooding back in torrents like it did last night!!!

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