Notes to Self

July 30, 2013

because She said so

Saying it aloud makes it seem silly, obvious, as if I should have always known. But the complexities of the mind, the way we learn and the way every little experience has the potential to influence how our personalities develop…I didn’t realize it.

So yesterday when I finally made the connection, the impact was profound. I think it will take time to really understand, and then to change.

I believe beyond all doubt that I am a fat, ugly, disgusting whore who is incapable of being feminine or sophisticated; I am nothing but a bum and will always look like one, despite what I am wearing. I am a failure as a woman, which means I am a failure as a human.

I have lived my life in jeans and t-shirts, rarely venturing out of my comfort zone (and having great anxiety when I did). I’d avoid situations where dressing up was necessary. I never wore makeup. Never cared about my hair or nails. I did the bare minimum.

I avoided mirrors, would run out of bathrooms if another came in and I was trying to redo my pathetic hairstyle (barett, half way up). I felt I had no right to look and even less right to attempt to appear feminine.

I never had many friends. I constantly compared myself to other girls/women, telling myself how unworthy I was of their presence and friendship, and how less of a girl/woman I was because I didn’t dress nicely, do my hair, wear makeup, get my nails done or wear pretty shoes. I was not as worthy of a human being because I was not a good enough female. After all, I was used and no one wants a used person (yes, that is what my mother said to me when I was 13 years old after a very manipulative, abusive 16 year old boy took advantage of me).

I believe all this to be true because She said so.

That is the only reason.

It was an “ah-ha” moment laden with pain. My body cringed as my mind tried to make sense of the simple truth. Because She said so. I could almost see the words come out of her mouth and pave the neuronal pathways that caused the morning tears and tantrums as I went through my wardrobe desperately trying to find something to wear that would take away the negative thoughts and feelings. Day after day the struggle to hide behind cotton and somehow cognitively ignore my own body.  “It’s bad enough you look like a tramp but now you have to dress like a hobo too!” she said one day. Every time I got my hair cut, with a new do, she’d say “oh, well I would have done something different, but if you like it.” Miss Manners was always turning over in her grave at my existence. I stopped going shopping (clothes) with my mother when I was in the 6th grade or so – after she pulled out some frilly shirt (for the hundredth) and I replied “do you really think I would like that?”. It was clear she didn’t know me, didn’t approve of me and wanted me to be something else.  The messages of “I do not approve of you and you are not good enough” came from all directions in various forms. The eye rolls when I came down the stairs. This ’tisk’ when I got a little dirty (as a child mind you).

It was all there, all the information I needed to realize that no, there is and was nothing inherently wrong with me that makes me less of a human or woman. Stop hating yourself and thinking you are undeserving of anything but abuse. Stop trying to fix yourself or deny yourself fundamental love and appreciation for the individual you are.

I look at pictures of myself from when I was a child/adolescent and feel such great, deep sadness. As if I see my potential dying. As if I could have been great but it was lost and I am doomed to being….me. I hate that feeling. I hate thinking that I am nothing but a shell of a person who was wonderful.

And to think that I believe all this to be true simply because She said so.

I don’t know how long it will take me to fully appreciate this realization. I am still in shock. I do know that it is the beginning of brighter days ahead. I just need to figure out how to let all of her words go; how to dust off the little girl that needed love, encouragement and support, and emerge the person I am, that I have always been and will finally love.

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June 29, 2012

Loss worth losing

As our children grow and mature, with every step taken, we lose a little.

Mothers no longer needed for nourishment: loss.

Babies no longer wanting to constantly be held: loss.

Toddlers walking without holding parents’ hands: loss.

Toddlers no longer needing to run to mommy’s arms when novelty appears: loss.

When children sleep through the night in their own bed, peel and hold the banana all by themselves and successfully use a fork or spoon for an entire meal: loss, loss and loss.

Ever since she stopped nursing my daughter has been sleeping better – rarely wakes up (vs waking every 2-3 hours), and sleeps in her crib (vs in the bed with us). We have begun trying to get her to fall asleep in her crib without us holding her.

However last night my daughter fell asleep in my arms. I thought: this may be the last time she cuddles me like this. I grew sad (and am tearing up now) and felt such a sense of loss.

But I know that it is loss worth losing. I know it means we have done a good job as parents – we have provided this little baby with what she needed and she is growing up well.

That is the fundamental purpose of parenting. To give and let them grow.

“With all of its glories and all of its faults, life is but a bittersweet waltz”

June 28, 2012

Passing the baton

Last night my husband put the baby to bed- well, sort of. We both started and I left the room and he finished.

I was tired and was growing more and more frustrated as time went on and she was not falling asleep.  I get upset that things don’t go smoothly because, in my mind, it means I have failed.

My family (both mine and my husband’s side) have put their 2 cents in since my daughter was born and all I hear is them saying you should do this; or you shouldn’t do that; I’m telling you from experience….; you’ll be sorry later on if you keep doing…..

Yes, I let her fall asleep at the breast. No, I never had a bedtime routine.Yes, I held her as much as I possibly could (I still do).

Is she attached to me? Most definitely. Does it sometimes cause me stress? Absolutely. Would I change it? Never.

Yet I cannot be at peace with what I have done, and chose to do. I feel criticized  and judged all the time. I hate family gatherings and wish we could move far away. As if that would matter – even during phone conversations I get judged and criticized.

My mother never really supported my choice to breastfeed and especially didn’t support me going past 6 months. My father wasn’t as vocal about it but he also kept saying I could stop anytime I wanted to.

So when I am not around for my daughter I feel guilty. I feel like she thinks I have abandoned her and no longer love her. This morning my husband took her outside to play while I got her food ready and then showered/got dressed. I found myself rushing (as I always do) because I had to get back to her. I have to be with her all the time (if I am not at work, etc).

Last night as I tried to rest in bed and wait for her to fall asleep I kept getting up and heading toward her door – thinking that she needed me, she needed to know I was there and would cuddle her and love her always. But I also know that she needs to feel that from her daddy as well. She needs to attach to him as well (if I am absent she will stay/play with him. If I am present it is only to me). And it is getting better – she is attaching more and more. But as it gets better I also feel a sense of loss and worry.

I never want her to feel the way I felt from my parents – unloved, un-liked and unsupported. Chances are she will never feel those things but instead may feel smothered – he he.  But the fear is still there.

Ah, so here is another thought that needs examination. Letting other people (i.e., her da-da/my husband) care for my daughter means I am not being a good enough mother and am abandoning her (or something like that). I’ll have to work on this one.

June 27, 2012

Therapy – Week 5

This post has taken me several days to write. It is hard to be so honest and also put words to the feelings and figure out what I am thinking. I cannot bring closure to this post now – I don’t know how to end it. So here is the first part.

My therapist asks me if I know whether or not I believe the negative thoughts I have. There is a difference between believing in and merely thinking something (ha! merely, as if thoughts are that innocuous!).

Apparently if you dissect a thought well enough, and examine the data, one might find many reasons to refute the routine/ubiquitousness of said thoughts.

So let’s give it a go.

Negative thought regarding the other mom’s/families at the daycare which my daughter attends. In the mornings I see BMW’s, Mercedes’, Volvo’s and the like lined up outside of the daycare. Parents in their fancy clothes unload their children in their own fancy clothes. Women have nicely done hair and makeup. They go to their (assumed) glamorous jobs in the city and hoboken (via train, which I know because I overhear them talking about it) and many of the parents in my daughter’s class appear to know each other from playdates, etc. Meanwhile, I drive my dirty Honda (inside and out because I can’t be bothered to clean it) and wear jeans and sneakers. My hair isn’t primped. I don’t wear makeup. I have had no playdates with these girls and their mom’s. They have not emailed me despite my attempts to connect.

I feel that I am inferior to these women (and to the imagined wives of the well-dressed men driving the luxury cars) because I am not as “put together” as they are.I am not as feminine. I am fat, they are not. I don’t have as nice clothes nor the self-esteem to wear them. I don’t have (assumed) as much money or income. I live next to multi-family houses, an apartment complex and near (this is relative because really so do they) a not-so-nice neighborhood. Our public school isn’t great. Theirs town’s is I feel that I am inferior because they aren’t emailing me to get together. I am somehow not worthy of their friendship (and thus my daughter is not of their children’s).

The reality is that I know very, very little about these women and their families. I don’t know a single truth about their lives, relationships and financial states. All I know is appearance. I don’t know what kind of mother’s they are (which is very important to me). I don’t know if they are happy or just pretending to be. I don’t know a thing about these “glamorous” jobs. I would hate to take the train and would hate even more to work in the city!

The clothes I wear are really the best I can do (or are willing to do because if I go out of my comfort zone I feel too uncomfortable) and I don’t have time to iron and dry cleaning is too expensive (and when would I find time to drop off and pick up!). I work in an office of 3 and everyone dresses down. We are banished to the most remote corner of the campus and I sit in front of a computer all day. There is no need to get “dressed up”, except of course for my own benefit.

I cut my hair after my daughter was born and it is growing out. I haven’t been able to get a haircut in several months. I hate the bangs in my face. So after I shower I throw it up haphazardly into a barrette and spray it with hairspray to seal the deal. I don’t blow dry it. I don’t curl it. I hardly brush it more than once a day (it gets very straight and flat if I do). I was wearing makeup before I got pregnant, and even then was often wearing eyeliner. Then I stopped and haven’t gone back. Time, desire…why bother?

On the other hand, there are women I see and I say to myself that I am better than they are (no worries- the double standard and potential hypocrisy isn’t lost on me). For some reason I feel compelled to judge myself and others so definitively.

Last weekend my husband, daughter and I attended a fair. There was a band. Standing near the band was a woman and her daughter (about my daughter’s age) – her husband was standing a bit behind with the stroller. I decided to take my daughter to stand next to the other little girl in hopes that they might dance together. The woman was thin, nice hair, sunglasses, pretty dress. Her daughter was in a pretty dress as well. My child was wearing jean shorts and a cute tank top. She had on a hat (that didn’t really match) and keen sandals. She was sucking on a pacifier because I was trying to get her to nap (pacifier is a relatively new addition since we stopped nursing a few weeks ago).  The little girl leaned in to see the pacifier and the mother commented something about how she doesn’t know what that is. Meanwhile the little girl is sucking on her thumb. Neither the mom or child were dancing. I started dancing with my daughter (even got down on a knee to be at her level) and not only was my daughter dancing, but the other little girl began dancing as well! And giggling!

At that moment I questioned the idea of me being inferior to this woman.

I realized I didn’t understand my logic and reasons for comparing myself in this regard. Maybe my premise is flawed.

What is my premise?

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