I have been spending more time than usual trying to figure out why life has been the way it has been for me and my children. This has led me to try to understand my own life and why things have happened the way they have long before I married my ex husband, long before my children, and long before my son's addictions. I am wondering what is it about my behaviour, my patterns, my background that may have taught me dysfunctional traits that have led to make decisions that have created more and more dysfunction.
I have come to the conclusion that two major elements of my life have led me to be where I am today. Firstly the relationship with my mother and her premature death. Secondly, the traumatic onset of my bowel disease (ulcerative colitis) at a very young age (7).
I had a very close relationship with my mother. She was a stay at home mom until I was around the age of 6 or 7 and again from the age of about 10 or 11. I loved her and looked to her for comfort and assistance. She was my everything, she loved me unconditionally, she was a wonderful role model, she was self sacrificing, she was nurturing and hard working in everything she did. She was gentle and loving yet also a fierce lioness who would always step forward to protect or defend my sister and I. My illness must have caused her great worry and it was when I became ill and spent a lot of time at home and hospital rather than school which was the beginning of my somewhat less than ordinary social development.
I can not recall how many years I was at home, but during that time I did not go outside and play with the neighbourhood children, or if I did I have no memory of doing so. I know I missed a lot of school so the "normal" development children gain from the social and societal structure that school gives and teaches us was absent in my life. We had no real close family friends, no family what so ever in the same country let alone near by. For this reason my mother became even more important to me.
As the years went on I eventually began trying to do more things and though I missed much of my school years, my mother encouraged me to continue education and sign up to community college. She was supportive and encouraging. I started taking one or two classes in the evening and eventually worked up to attending full time during the day. In the beginning it was very hard for me, though I was intelligent enough and eager to learn, I lacked the past experience the teacher expected of the students. I was ready to quite early on, however, my mother sat with me and we did the work together until I became more comfortable and confident with the work! When the first year was a success, and I started my second year, my mother encouraged me to apply to University and I was amazed I was accepted to all I applied for. My mother was so proud, I know she was. She wanted a bright and successful future me, even more so given the circumstances of my childhood.
Basically my mother was always there for me, always helped and advised and cared for me. I did not have the typical childhood in which I built up social circles and learned coping skills based on normal social development as other kids do through going to school and being part of a group. I did not live in a family in which there was lots of activity. There was no extended family, my parents only had one couple who they were good friends with and they were older and therefore their children were very much older than my sister and I. So while I spent a lot of my childhood at home, the home was quiet and I depended on my mother for all my learning and needs.
My mother and father did not have a healthy relationship and my father (as most men in those days) saw his main role as provider who went to work and earned money to fulfil his needs as husband and father. My mother and father fought often and seemed to have a love hate relationship, very much having their ups and downs. They eventually divorced when I was about 12 or 13.
They say women look for someone like their fathers to marry, I think I have always searched for someone to take care of me, love me and support me as much as my mother did. I was just getting my feet on the ground, second year of studying at UCLA, loving it and doing well. Learning how to talk to people and socialise. Feeling better about myself, my life and the future. Then out of no where my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was given 3 months to live. My world crashed. My life changed. I cared for my mother at home. I took her to her doctor appointments, to radiation and chemotherapy. I cooked and shopped and cleaned and tried my best to maintain my academic studies. My mother and father were no longer together and my sister no longer lived at home. I watched my mother deteriorate and suffer and eventually saw her take her last breath after hearing that haunting sound of the "death gurgle".
I never found anyone who was even near to filling my mother's shoes because I must somehow project the wrong energy since the men I have attracted or been attracted to have been anything but a caring, loving, supporting giving man!
This is one factor of my life, my past, my personality created by my childhood that has contributed to my life's choices and my behaviours which have resulted in difficult situations and upset. The other one was a byproduct of my illness that affected nearly my entire childhood. As I mentioned, this illness resulted in years of near isolation. That plus the pain and discomfort and doctors and embarrassing procedures, all contributed to a very sad childhood.
Just before starting middle school my family moved and I had missed a lot of primary school due to being ill. I had a year of home schooling in our new home. I was also put on a high dosage of steroids which created a child who had the look someone with Cushing's syndrome. When I started middle school I was still slightly overweight, with bushy eyebrows and I wore my hair in two plaits. I wore unfashionable clothes and was painfully shy. I became the middle school's perfect candidate for bullying or as it was called then "being picked on". I was called names and laughed at in class, I was the one no one wanted on their P.E.teams or any activity that we were put into groups or teams. I was laughed at and rejected during lunch and recess. I was humiliated on the school bus. I walked alone from the bus stop to my home with a group of children (mostly boys) walking behind me calling me names and laughing all the way home. I have blocked out most of the names I was called and only one phrase has stuck in my mind all these years, "whale on the beach, whale on the beach".
Naturally this lessened over the years and my appearance improved, a lot,inside I felt like the whale on the beach for many years to come.
As a result this made it very difficult to "put myself out there" as an adult when it came to socialising, first because of shyness, insecurity, now because of age, depression and my parental responsibilities, I now realise that I have had a need to be accepted and liked and "popular". I have been somewhat vain and often insecure. I want to be wanted as a result of my illness and my childhood.
The years of exclusion and then the bullying when I re entered the world during my most informative years, created such insecurity and self doubt within me. This was because of my illness and then the horrible way I looked thanks to the only treatment at the time, long term steroid (prednisone) treatment. I felt fat and ugly for a very long time and whenever life was stressful I immediately started to attack myself and felt fat and ugly and useless. I have been looking for validation all these years and that is maybe why I stay in unhealthy relationships because I want validation regardless of the health of the relationship. Perhaps this need of validation and approval and being liked is why I wanted to be liked by my children's friends rather than being the parent who treats their children with more authority. I am deep down inside afraid to upset my children, I want them to like me as well, maybe that is why I lack some of the strictness that maybe a parent should have. I want to be seen as the popular mom and the cool mom in my children's social circles. That is absurd when you consider that all stems out of childhood experiences of being rejected and unliked.
This fear of being rejected and ridiculed and not being accepted, along with the void my mother's absence has created within me, has made me into someone who is a people pleaser, someone who avoids confrontation, always seeking approval from most people who come into my life. Maybe this affected my parenting and I should have confronted the terrible home life much sooner than I did. Maybe I could have avoided some of the damage my ex husband did to our son's emotional well being. Maybe I should have been more confrontational and cared less about being "liked". Maybe because of these issues within me it has somehow made me insufficient with dealing with all the hurdles and obstacles and in so doing I have created more and more issues until our life is as we now know it, chaotic, dysfunctional and unhappy.
This is me!
The expression that something can "scar you for life" seems to be true. My scars seem to have affected me and my choices and my emotional health which in turn has affected my children's lives. No one can ever take the place of my mother, but I should not be looking for anyone to fill a void even if she was the soul provider of all my needs. I suppose in meeting all my needs and my social isolation I did not learn how to be self sufficient and build a life worth living due to all my avoidance behaviours. No one can erase the years of bullying and feelings of low self worth, but I should not have spent too many years looking for acceptance. Now I find myself living in a society which is becoming more and more obsessed on how many people follow us, how many "friends" we have or likes we get, I feel that it feeds on my insecurities and though I am no longer an adolescent or in my 20's I seem to succumb to that horrible competition when it comes to my online life, and I HATE that about myself.
The real question is, if I am indeed scarred for life, how do I make those scars less permanent? If indeed these aspects of my psychological make up have helped create this hugely messed up life, how do I move on from understanding it to changing it? How did these things contribute to my son's feelings and seeking solace in drugs? My daughter's anxieties and fears and almost emotionless existence? How will affect my youngest in the nest few years?
On that note my next post will be how these issues allowed me to fall in love with a compulsive liar, womanising addict which in turn caused not just me but my son and youngest daughter great betrayal and broken hearts.
Once I have addressed these more introspective issues I will tell then update you all on my son's roller coaster ride of a life.