*This is lengthy and really just typing this for my therapeutic benefit. I’m not even going back through to edit!
It’s so interesting to see the connections when I reexamine things. It’s like watching a movie several times and discovering something new each time. Yesterday, we had a discussion about my parents and some of the conflicts that may have occurred. It is very interesting to me to see how differently all three of us are despite the supposedly similar parenting we received.
As I contextualize it, I am starting to realize that’s actually not the case at all – that we all experienced our parents in the same way. Sister witnessed the struggles of being new immigrants and living the life in a low-income neighborhood. I imagine she may have developed a deeper appreciation and gratitude for the things that my parents had to do in order to provide for us. Brother missed out on almost all of that. He lived the life outside of the ‘hood. In my eyes I consider it spoiling, but perhaps it was really just finally having the luxury and privilege to buy their children the things they wanted instead of saying, “No, it costs to much” and just providing for the things that we needed. I saw a mix of that. I was shielded from the struggles of poverty being low-income. I knew we didn’t have a lot of money, but they provided enough so I didn’t need to want a whole lot more than what I had.
Once in a while, I think to myself that maybe I would have turned out to be a better person if I had seen, witnessed, or been a part of their struggle. Instead, I lived a sheltered and seemingly privileged life. I had enough food, clothes, activities. I never had to worry about if we would make rent, have enough food, or couldn’t afford something really basic. Anything that would be needed for my success, it was provided for and I took that for granted well into my early 20’s.
While I want to acknowledge their hard work and perseverance, Mother really did a number on me. I was always a Daddy’s girl and let’s be honest, I probably will be for a long time. Obviously, it’s quite subsided, but I will always connect better with him. And perhaps that’s what feeds into my struggles. My dad worked hard and I saw him briefly in the morning and when he would come home for dinner. Now, when I think about it, I think I wanted to be like him. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’m starting to wonder if there’s that relationship.
He was a man of great morals. There was a right, a wrong, and a just-not-worth-the-effort. His morals were very clear.
If you worked hard, you would do well in life. You did not need to take advantage of others in order to become successful. You should be nice to others. If you can afford it, do a nice gesture. Make sure you greet your relatives with proper respect. Work first, play later. Anything you feel that you need, just ask. I still have the final say, but there’s a reason why I’m saying no.
I am ashamed to admit that it took so long for me to just realize how great of a man he is and how much shit he had to put up with when raising me. I was not the easiest child, and probably even now. Sure, for the most part, I was relatively well-behaved. I rarely, if ever, got in trouble with school teachers or administrators. I completed my work and aced many tests. But I was a bit of a tomboy. I chased the boys because they would pick on me (not in a bullying way – probably just doing it for fun and realizing that I would actually respond). I wasn’t (and still am not) a girly girl. Sure I liked dresses because they’re nice and cool, but I’m going to sit all prim and proper just to make sure it doesn’t get a little bit of dirt on it. I played with fire. I stole money from them. I lied often (mostly to avoid confrontation and/or spanking). I wanted to defy them and if they told me to do something, I wouldn’t want to do it right away (which drove Daddy nuts). I argued with them when I had to drop out of a semester from college. I went into consumer credit card debt and needed a bailout.
Like I said, I was difficult. But despite all of those things, no matter how many mistakes I made, the arguments I had with him, how I had resented him through my teenage years, he stood by me and loved me anyway. He rarely, if ever, called me names. He was and is, one of the truest definitions of unconditional love.
Mother, on the other hand… she’s… well, different. She is not who I aspire to be and yet, picked up on so many of her traits. I am easily irritable. When I was upset, I used to say whatever I was feeling at the time, even if that meant hurting someone else. I slammed doors (sometimes do), I cursed, I scowled, I once smashed my foot through a wall (didn’t realize it was such thin sheet wall!), etc. I have created more awareness and curbed it a lot, but there are often times when I allow myself to have unfiltered anger (at least I’m choosing to be angry now). She shoplift(ed) and while I knew it wasn’t okay (Daddy’s ethics), I wanted things anyway and it appeared to be a victimless crime, right? She hoards. “One day I’ll need it.” “You bought it, so you shouldn’t waste money.” “I’m going to give it to so and so.” Of course, that never happens and the amount of stuff just keeps piling and piling. I bought a bunch of Bath & Body Works’ hand soaps during college. 6 years later, I’m still not done going through all of the bottles. Yes, six years. It’s ridiculous.
So maybe those are some of the pieces that contributes to my lack of self compassion. Because I hold myself to the higher standard (Daddy) but tend to do things that aren’t going to follow those standards (Mother), I can only imagine all of unspoken stress and conflict I felt.
Darn. Want to write more, but apparently my eyes are droopy.