I have been spending a lot of time with my child. Not my children (though I love my time with them!) The child I am talking about is “me.” My mother in law, a Psychologist, and I have been spending a lot of time together lately as she goes through her “stuff” trying to minimize things ( at exactly the time I am doing a show called Remnants so it’s a win-win for both of us!) And while she has shared her memories of the items she is getting rid of, we have begun talking about life, and family dynamics and it has helped clarify a lot of who I am.

One thing that has come up is how our buttons get pushed and her philosophy is that whatever is triggering a negative reaction is based on something in our childhood, so we need to go back and find that child and figure it out now for them so that they can become unstuck at the place you left them. That has been unusually painful for me. My childhood was pretty great. My mom stayed at home and was always artful, whether it was ceramics or painting, sewing or crocheting , I know I got my artfulness from her. My dad worked at Mattel most of my younger years and give me a break, how could I not have lucked out more than that? I never worried about money, and never really heard my parents fight.

I remember trips to the Mattel Outlet in Hawthorn where their offices were and getting to pick out different things. I grew up in a house overlooking Marineland and the ocean and came home to freshly baked cookies. I know my parents loved me to the moon and back. My dad was the one who took me school clothes shopping at the beginning of every year and who I spent many Saturdays with just hanging out, going to the Barber shop and hardware store and car wash and talking about his childhood and life. And every Sunday my mom taking us to church without my dad most Sundays but faithfully making sure we went to Sunday school.

My childhood was pretty “Leave it To Beaverish.” Except because my dad was up and coming in his career, he had to wine and dine clients and in turn he drank. I am not sure when I really understood it but I remember when  I was nine and my mom woke me up in the middle of the night and said she had to go get my dad out of jail for a DUI. She wanted me to know in case I woke up. I was told to babysit my little sister. It happened again when I was eleven. And as far as I know never again. But that was enough. The damage had been done. My mom shared with me that once they were driving and my dad had been drinking and swerved off the freeway from the left lane to make his off ramp. As an adult, I wonder… Why did I need to know that? Once after a company picnic my dad drove us home drunk and then started talking about wanting to go to a restaurant called Latitude 20. My mom panicked and asked me to try to talk him out of it. I did and he got mad at me but ended up falling asleep. Once again, it was all on me.

My dad used to tell me that if he ever died there were important papers beneath the master bathroom’s drawer, later he’d tell me they were on his computer. I used to get upset. Nobody wants to think that about their parents dying. Especially when you are still in Junior High. But my dad didn’t feel my mom could handle it. My dad did die early. He may have known something was up with his health. Though because he traveled for his job a lot I think that he thought he was going to die in an accident. He had a lot of life insurance but more accident. He did end up dying at 51 of a heart attack. I was married by that time with a 3-year-old son. He was jogging around the block.

My mom just died last year at 83. She was an amazing mom. And a memory making grandma. But also made her share of mistakes. I have realized just recently that I never really got to be a kid. I had so much responsibility heaped on me at a pretty early young age. I didn’t need to know the adult things that were happening in my parent’s life. I think I am angry at both of them. My dad for his alcohol issues and my mom for telling me about them.

I remember asking my dad every single morning when he’d be home that night, and  my mom getting annoyed with me for asking her every single night, if she was worried if my dad wasn’t home when he said he’d be. I remember feeling sad and confused and angry that she was annoyed but feeling that it was my fault and I was just a weird kid that worried too much. I wish I could have understood enough then, to realize it wasn’t my fault and to tell her that she was the reason I was worried. Actually they both were!

Now, I hate the knowing that anyone is annoyed with me, I hate feeling worried and guilty, and today I know exactly what and why I have those buttons and I am working on them. I know that I react more quickly to certain triggers that someone else might just let go.

I wish I could go back to find that little girl and make it okay. I think just by giving myself a break and realizing some of those things have made me really melancholy lately. I wish I’d figured everything out sooner. But better late than never. Right? I guess I could have turned out a lot worse. I guess the message I want to share here is…  If you have worries, and we all do. Share them with another adult. Not your kids. Spare your kids. Let them have their childhood.

 

15 thoughts on “Working on me, better late than never… Right?

  1. A heartfelt post, Di. xXx I don’t think we can measure working on ourselves in time, as we do what we can, when we can. Then something, like the loving connection you share with your Mum in law, sparks another inner reveal. Sharing our stories helps others and I feel that us writers need to ‘write’ it out too. Huge hugs for you and yes, adult responsibilities as a child have profound consequences. xXx

    1. I needed to read this. I have been having bad dreams kind of putting this out there. Because I’m still in the midst of grieving for my mom. I never wanted to throw her under the bus so to speak because she was a great mom & I never wanted to diminish any of that. So your note means a lot. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. ❤️

      1. I felt for you , Di, as I read this. There are things in my childhood that have had a pivotal effect and it can get so wrapped up in guilt and tangled emotions. It takes huge courage to share your story and put things across in a balanced way. You have done just that. Huge hugs ❤ xXx

  2. It’s interesting how the dynamics we see in our parents can affect us. I grew up in a Leave it to Beaver kind of environment also. My parents seemed happily married and on the same page, but over the last 15 years or so, I’ve come to learn and see that they are not so happily married anymore. Something happened and they have now essentially become roommates with sixty years of marriage behind them. And I am so angry at both of them for letting it happen and then not giving themselves the freedom to go their separate ways if they are so unhappy with each other. And so much of what they did when I was a child informed me about how I have adulted and parented over the years and now their model is … well, I’ll leave it that.

    1. THAT would be sooo hard! I totally understand your anger. And the model of staying together that they are trying to still hold so tight to is a waste of their efforts. It is kind of two tales in one. The mom that didn’t hide it and the one that did. It just goes to show that no matter how pretty the house and how solid the door, the perfect little family isn’t always so perfect. In a way it should set us free to embrace our own norms and morals and yet those kids that were us once still need to figure it out and so we’ve gotta face them and let them know that they are not to blame!

  3. Omg Di, this was beautifully written. It seems you and I have led parallel lives in different ways with our parents. You are so right, worrying about our parents when we are children is not our job! And so we write. ❤

    1. Hugs Deb!
      I know that you had it much worse than me. At least I knew my mom loved me. I have so many letters I saved with scripture verses and her calling me her beautiful first born. It makes me feel guilty to even write this, especially at the same time when I miss her so much. But I feel somehow that if people realized that different things cause life long wounds it might stop someone else from making the same mistakes. All this happened in a beautiful house, behind a beautiful door with loving parents so abuse is kind of a strong word. But emotionally I feel that there is a part of me that is still caught up in that confused little girl and I feel that the only way to save me is to save her and it is in the process of doing the work.
      I knew that when you and I connected it was a “I GET YOU” kind of heart thing. But because of your story, mine seems like I am whining. But I have realized that pain is pain and I gotta own it!

      People with stories likes yours give strength to us all!
      xoxo

      1. People with stories like ‘OURS’ give strength. Everyone’s pain is their own cross to bear. It’s impossible to compare people’s individual pain. Yes, everyone is conditioned to think that living in the nice white house with the picket fence is the perfect life but nobody knows what goes on behind any closed door. I’m glad you have those many letters and scriptures. You should seriously consider writing a memoir about this. Heck you already have so many writings about your life. You’d be surprised how many people can identify with your situation. Your words could also help many. ❤ xx

  4. ” there is a little child within us all, when that child does not grow properly, we then on the outside do not grow properly”

    ” the pain from that child within can and will last a lifetime”

    Beautiful post, “now to heal the true pain, we need to look within and heal that child within”

    1. Your words are always so wise.
      Let me start out by saying I love my faithful readers. I feel that everyone who has commented so far are more like my friends even though we all met reading each other’s blogs. I respect you all in such different ways and yet I am drawn to the character of each one of you.

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