I had this epiphany recently that I allowed so many people in my life hold me down because they wanted me to be a certain way. It started in childhood. I was to be perfect all the time. Perfect in behavior, in mannerisms, in grades. There wasn’t a choice to not strive for perfection ever. It wasn’t allowed. And if I didn’t comply, if I weren’t perfect, there were punishments. Talk about conditional love? I was trained with it. I knew how to rebel in quiet moments and to squeak by to avoid the hellish nightmare that was surely to follow if they’d found out. Lucky for me, I rebelled few times with few consequences because the punishment was never nice.
I married the man I did (in retrospect) because he was familiar. What I didn’t realize at the time was the familiarity I had was with conditional love and narcissism. His family welcomed me and I realized too late that I had walked into a web of destruction for me. But I soldiered on because I was taught at a young age that you kept going. You weren’t allowed to quit and you had to always strive for perfection because anything less wasn’t tolerated.
Does this sound familiar to you?
So when my kid recently touched one of the wounds I thought I had healed (but obviously hadn’t), it hurt to my core. And then I got angry. Angry with myself. Angry with him (although to be fair, he’d been on the phone with my ex (his dad)) and it was his dad’s remnants of behavior that touched that raw nerve that I mistakenly thought I had healed.
So I sat there in wonder. I had to go outside to my safe place and think in the sunshine. I had to figure out why I was so hurt and why what my son had said had bothered me so much. Part of it was guilt because I could see what he was thinking was partially right. Part of what he told me about myself didn’t matter because he was being superficial and I knew it was coming from my ex and his messed up family. But it hurt. And even when I tried to couch the subject with my kid so as to clear the air, he didn’t get it. And how could he? It’s my issue and not his. I am still harboring hurts of a lifetime that just blew wide open.
My guts spilled and the tears followed. And the horror of the fact that I have been held down for so long came spilling out. And the guilt of allowing it, followed with disaster. Because I thought I had healed those wounds. I thought that I had moved past the superficial hurts that almost bled me dry. But they’re coming up again with a vengeance to be seen, to be felt and to be noticed once and for all. Out in the open without a shadow of a doubt to be dealt with and released.
Because while innately I knew who I was, I became a chameleon in order to people please those from whom I thought I needed love. Tell me to jump 2 feet high and I would find a way. Raise the bar even higher and I would train like an Olympic athlete to conquer whatever you gave me so that I could keep your love. Desperate to be loved, I surpassed all odds.
But I lost me which is why I began this blog. And I thought I had it all together until recently. I thought that I had healed the past hurts and the childhood traumas. I thought that I was aware of how much I’d grown and I was at peace. But there was more to come. More hurdles to heal. More centering down into the innately authentically Janie to accept. To be ok when one gets the soul crushing wounds again from her child and to not defend herself from the tsunami of emotions that arrive shortly thereafter.
I wasn’t prepared. But I thought I was. And while his truth is NOT mine, I will stand in my truth. No more begging forgiveness for what I’ve not done to make or to try to keep the peace. It’s not my place. No more defending myself, nor walking on eggshells in my own house even if they are my children. I feel like I’m making a bigger deal out of it than needs to be in my kids’ eyes, but it’s real to me.
And I can’t and I won’t go back to how I lived for over 50 years.