Monday, January 30, 2012

Contrast

I had "the talk" with my daughter yesterday.  She's eight and has been asking a ton of questions over the past few months and I had a lot of catching up to do.

I have very much fallen down on the job... I have never called body parts anything.  At all.  I've never talked about normal functions of our bodies; especially what happens as we grow up.

I'm very uncomfortable with all of it.  However, it wasn't the discomfort that I dreaded the most.  I was so afraid that I would bring it up and it would reveal that something had happened to her.  That was my worst fear.

If someone had sat me down at eight, I probably could have told them more than they knew as an adult.  It would have been very clear that things were happening to me.  Not surprising though, nothing was ever explained to me.  It was demonstrated instead.

So when we started talking I was so relieved to hear that she knew virtually nothing other than a few details that she has picked up on from other kids and TV.  I used a book to explain everything; books are my cure-all for anything I don't know how to do.  Most of this topic, terms, body parts, etc are upsetting and can flood me with bad memories.  Thankfully the book kept me on track.

Everything was fine until she started asking me how old I was when I found out about all of this.  I didn't know how to answer her.  It had been such good conversations until then and I didn't want to taint her own memory with my garbage bags.  The best answer I knew to give was that I didn't remember.  We finished the conversation and went about our day.

I put on a smile for everyone but on the inside there was a deep and burning grief in the pit of my stomach that has yet to leave.  In trying to do the right things as a parent I often get blindsided by the very simple, very wrong actions of my parents.  And it hurts.

I would be lying if I said that I don't get jealous of my daughter at times.  I know that's a terrible thing to think let alone say but it makes me wonder what was so bad about me.  I want to do the best that I can by her yet my parents couldn't muster much more than not killing me. 

It's an intolerable contrast that I can't seem to wrap my mind around.

My daughter is a good kid with a kind heart.  She can also be very challenging.  But even at her worst I can't imagine doing what they did.  And that makes me wonder just how horrible I must have been.

My parents were bad people and I loved them.  I still do.  So how can my daughter be such a good person coming from such a bad person for a mother?

Another intolerable contrast except this one is one that I can't wrap my heart around.

11 comments:

JeannetteLS said...

Okay, for ONCE, I have some concrete and relevant experience--and how my counselor helped me there.
1) It's the parenting, not the person. EVEN IF --more on that later--you have been such a bad child, you do not parent as they did. Your daughter's experience of you is entirely different. And of her father perhaps? You nailed it. On her most challenging days you would never do to her what has been done by YOUR mother to you.

THAT IS HER EXPERIENCE. She loves because she is loved and knows it. You are a miracle of a woman because somehow or other... which leads to...

2) You were not a horrible child NO CHILD DESERVES WHAT YOU GOT. I hear my therapist yelling at me, so I am having HER yell at you. I'm not yelling. I'm crying instead. In a good way. We are the MOST ourselves from about six to eight I think. And we return to that person--the heart and spirit--I think, as we truly grow. You want her to be the best of who she is and you love her. You THINK aobut not ruining her experience by heaping too MUCH information. She is innocent and you are protecting her. Her childhood.

3) MY son found me in the freaking closet hiding from someone who was not there. He saw me run into my room when french toast spilled and it sounded like blood.

4) He is forty and only remembers that I was having bad memories and that I told him that I needed to go to counseling so that I wouldn't cry so much. He remembers that counseling seemed to make me happier. But that he remembered my telling him when he ASKED, what Jim did to me. I did not tell him everything.

Know what her remembers? That, unlike his mom, I ASKED him whether he needed to know any more and that I didn't throw more at him than he asked.

The not remembering seemed appropriate, so you said it.

4)Maybe, just maybe, your daughter is loving and kind BECAUSE you do not parent from that place that's jealous, that sees things you were NOT ALLOWED to be. My guess is your mom parented out of the jealous places, the frustrated places, the flawed places more than the good places. YOU are trying not to do this.

5)I blurted to my counselor once that I COULD NOT STAND my daughter. That she was being cruel and mean to me and treating me as if I were invisible. And I wasn't gonna take that from HER< TOO. And then I cried because I was a bad mother to feel that. I had not told my daughter this ever. I would tape my mouth before I would ever say I cannot stand you, Jessica.

My counselor then shared with me that bad thoughts do not count. Blink, blink. From me. HUH? And that most mothers now and again LOATHE their children, but the trick was simply to take a deep breath and loathe them outloud in the car. Alone. And choose to love them anyway and act from that. THat I was not evil or bad for feeling that way. It was what I did with those feelings that mattered.

I loved my stepdaughter with every fiber of my being. And I fought like HELL for her to continue with getting treatment for her own illnesses. Her own parents did not fight. that's their problem, not mine. And I DID finally realize I was allowed NOT to like my kids sometimes, to envy them their prolonged innocence. But it didn't mean I wasn't also GLAD they had that innocence TO envy!

NOTHING you write about parenting your daughter sounds like a bad mother. ZIPPO. NADA. You are human, Shattered! Human, human, human.

And I think you are something of a miracle because of the honesty with which you are attacking the memories and trying to heal the wounds and live with the scars. You love your daughter. That is just so evident.

I envy other people's kids a lot. But it doesn't mean I do not love them. And you love your parents? THAT is a marvel to me.

Okay. I hope this helped. I'll shut up now. I think of you, you know, even when I do not write or you have not written.

JeannetteLS said...

I AM SORRY FOR THE LENGTH. FEEL FREE TO TRASH!

Sarah (Nikki) said...

Hey Shattered....first....using books to help talk the stuff...is good. I've done it too with my dgt. And I take exception to something you said...2nd to last paragraph...Did you say you're bad??/ no way hosea...Un uh. You were messed up...maybe still are...but bad....no way. You commented on my blog about hope taking a long time....for me....I just held on tighter. I refused to listen to anyone who said what I needed would never happen. Stay strong okay...I believe in you.....☺☺

Friko said...

First off: I've been trying to comment but Blogger said a) you didn't exist and b) you were not open to me.
Go figure, as you Americans say.

It's good that you are writing regularly again; writing helps. It has helped me enormously and my therapist got me to write letters to my parents too. (They're dead)

Jeanette has said it and I expect your therapist says it too and you know it too, intellectually, if not emotionally., you weren't bad. You weren't abused because YOU were bad but because THEY were bad.

My therapist told me about the many people who come to her and say "it wasn't all bad you know. There were good days too, like Christmas say, and some days they didn't hurt me at all."

And that from people who had suffered the most horrific abuse. The thing I found hardest to do was to ACCEPT that bad things happened to me; for years I've been trying to find excuses for my mother's thoughtless cruelty.

It wouldn't be abuse if we deserved it, would it. It would be justifiable. You're still looking for a reason, aren't you?

You'll never find it, give up looking.

btw: It's hard to explain the facts of life to ones children for anyone. Bloody embarrassing too, for me. I shirked the responsibility.

Shattered said...

Jeannette, your comment is not too long. You said a lot of things very well. I think a lot of my parenting struggles come from the continuous loop from my parents that I hear in my head. I say and do one thing but what I hear are two opposites. Kinda ruins the moment...

I don't act on what I feel or hear but the thoughts continually cross my mind which makes it hard to parent at all sometimes.

And about loving my parents; I think I do it because I'm dumb not because I'm a nice person.

Shattered said...

Sarah, thank you for your response about hope. It's so hard sometimes but it's good to know that someone else has done it and come out better because of holding on.

Shattered said...

Friko, yeah go figure is about right. I've gotten locked out of my own blog several times for no reason...

You're right, I know intellectually that I'm not bad and yes, I've heard it a thousand times from my own therapist. I just don't feel it emotionally. I think about myself and bad is what I feel.

"It wouldn't be abuse if we deserved it, would it. It would be justifiable. You're still looking for a reason, aren't you?"

Yes, I am. But you know, I've never thought of it like you just put it. And you're right. I know there's no good reason but I have to figure out a way to feel that and not just know it. It's a frustrating cycle...

JeannetteLS said...

I hate the cliché, but do because it's so TRUE, that "The longest distance is from the head to the heart."

Knowing is one thing: feeling is another.

I guess there's a reason those two things are said.

Take care

Deborah said...

I'm glad Jeannette is here. I couldn't have imagined half the scenarios where the abuse you suffered would raise its ugly self again. For what it's worth, I've been jealous of my daughter now and then, for very different reasons, and while it never lasts, it doesn't feel like something a good mother shoujld feel.

Shattered said...

Jeannette,

"The longest distance is from the head to the heart."

"Knowing is one thing: feeling is another."

I guess there's a reason those two things are said.

You're very right. It's the hardest thing to do... connect your mind to your heart.

Shattered said...

Deborah, I'm glad everyone who comments is here. It helps to get the different perpectives. It's a relief to know that I'm not the only one that has felt jealous of their daughter. No, it's not something that a mother wants to feel... thankfully it doesn't last forever.