My mom did a very good job raising me, but left gaping holes. Her lack of teaching led me to fill in the gaps with my own discoveries & learn things my own way. I chose to fill in the gaps with my own understanding, half truths, & distorted thinking. I wasn’t taught boundary setting, the importance of taking care of me (1st), self-confidence, self-esteem, the sacredness & privacy of my body, sex education, & the sheer power of the word ‘no!!!’
Hope hopped in the car & started to cry.
“Mom, I had no water bottle at lunch. It was in the classroom.”
Unbeknownst to me, we were to provide a water bottle for the classroom & one in the lunch bag. Oops.
“Oh, honey, I’m sorry, why didn’t you raise your hand and ask for water?” You see, this Kindergarten thing is new to me, too. So Hope & I are learning together.
“I just didn’t.” I cringed upon hearing Hope choose not to raise her hand to ask for what she needed.
“Mom, I have to go potty right now!!!!!! Pull over.”
“Oh no, why didn’t you raise your hand & ask to go potty?”
“I just didn’t.” I cringed, again, at the thought of Hope holding her pee all day long, afraid to speak up.
I was mad because she reminded me of who I used to be & it terrified me. I remember unwanted touching in high school. I remember remaining silent & still… afraid to move, scared of what he would think if I pushed back & spoke up. I thought he would stop being my friend. I remember doing things that were against my morale.
I did them because my fear of being abandoned greatly outweighed my moral compass. My fear of looking like a bitch, a tease, or a slut outweighed my courage to utilize my moral compass. I did not always use my voice, set boundaries, or speak up, at times, when I felt things were not right. I was so incredibly afraid of being disliked, turned away from, or abandoned. & so I allowed things that were against what I believed in.
I was irritated that my daughter had chosen to remain silent in the midst of needing something. The thought of her choosing to go thirsty angered me. Her not raising her hand & not asking for what she needed on the first day of Kinder. instilled a bit of fear in me. Will she remain compliant if a boy tries to touch her or will she use her voice & speak up? Will she give into peer pressure to do drugs with her friends, or will she go against the crowd & stand her ground?
In college, I had a crush on a baseball player. We kissed & I thought it meant something. I wrote him unsent poetry. I was unaware he had a girlfriend at the time. & he felt guilty for having kissed me. I thought he liked me. My friends & I were heading to the parking lot to grab dinner, one evening, & I noticed him, & a few members of the baseball team, coming in while we were heading out- they were laughing. We exchanged glances. They had pissed all over my car & let all the air out of my tires. I was appalled. I told the residence director. Not much was done as I didn’t have proof. He called to confront me & threatened to sue me, as his dad was a big shot attorney. I was devastated. That taught me that speaking up, at times, can cause a lot of trouble. I stopped talking to him after that & he went on to marry his girlfriend & have children.
I so desperately wanted to be liked, cared for, admired, & more. I slept over at a crush’s crib & cuddled all night long. I thought it meant something, but it only meant something to me. He never wanted more than a friendship & so I pushed harder & tried more, only to have my heart-broken. No matter what I did, I got the same results. I’d do X to get Y, but after doing X, rarely did I get Y. I thought that if I did certain things, I’d be pleasing the other person, but all in all, I was dishonoring myself, appearing desperate, suffocating others, &, at times, going against my morals.
I fear my daughter will not use her strong & powerful voice, that she won’t stand her ground when it matters most, that she’ll choose to remain seated in the midst of the very things she needs to take a stand on. I’m afraid she’ll do what I did.
I can’t parent from a place of fear, but I can choose to prepare her for the big world out there. I can do my best & prepare my children by providing them with tools in their tool belts. Teaching them to use their voices will be of top priority.
It’s easy to say that I will provide them with the tools, but it does not dissolve the fear within.
Will my children remain compliant & complacent? Will they make their voices known & heard, even at the risk of disappointing or displeasing loved ones & friends? Will they allow unwanted things to happen, at times, as I did? Will they play the victim role & have regret, carry shame, & allow guilt to wash over them?
My hope & wish is they will choose to be victors, not victims, that they will stand in their truth, despite the consequences. They will not blames themselves, but will take responsibility for their participation in their lives and in the choices they make.
I can say that I am not a victim, I am a victor. I can say I participated in all the unwanted messes in my life because I was a participant & I was there. I didn’t know better, but I know better now & when we know better, we do better. & now I know what important lessons I need to teach my children, the things that were left out in my upbringing will serve as top priorities.
I thought if I did enough, remained quiet, & just kept giving, I would get what I wanted. & when I didn’t get what I wanted, I tried harder, pushed more, perfected myself more, & thought I didn’t get what I wanted because I wasn’t enough for others. I’d over give, try too hard, overcompensate, & dissect my being to figure out how I could win others over. I failed more than I succeeded.
If I could go back, I’d scoop that girl right up & hug her & assure her that she’s enough & that she doesn’t have to try so hard, work so hard, feel so strongly, & love so quickly & deeply. I’d tell her to just be, to be still, to exist, to laugh more, play more, & hug herself just a little bit tighter. I’d give her a little more grace & tell her not to be so damn hard on herself. Sometimes, I feel like I’m still that teen girl & it is exhausting trying to please this whole big wide world. & so I work on letting people pleasing go & pleasing me first.
I will continue to raise my children to stand their ground, even if standing all alone, to do what is right, not what is popular, to honor their bodies as sacred & private, to love themselves first, how to defend themselves, the power of ‘no,’ & sex education.
Taking care of you, 1st, is number one. Self-confidence & self-esteem must be modeled & taught. I was raised with these: “do unto others,” “give to those in need,” “give people the benefit of the doubt,” & more. It’s not all true- be aware & take care of you. If you feel that red flag shoot up, that off feeling in your tummy, listen loud & clear, & change course.
Be kind, but don’t get taken advantage of. Serve others, but not at the expense of hurting yourself.
Be kinder to yourself.