This list is harder to write. What my mother taught me through her actions, behavior and treatment of me is a bit more obscure than my father. I have certainly put more thought over the years into the impact of how my father treated me and the subsequent consequences of all his misguided messaging. But she did a job on me too, and she was my mother. Now that I’m a mother and am keenly aware of the instinct I have to protect my children, to say I’m perplexed at her actions is an understatement and sometimes do wonder which parent did me more harm.
With that said, here are the lessons I learned from my mom:
- Don’t expect to be protected
- Even those whose job it is to protect you may opt to protect themselves over you, when choosing to protect you would come at a personal cost to them
- Food is love, food is comfort
- But lose weight and put incredible importance on the reading of that all important scale. Being slim will help protect you from criticism and hurt
- Others deserve it more – and that it could be anything
- Expressions of love and praise are to be doled out sparingly
- And, my mother taught me what it is to be on the receiving end of a look of disdain and disgust
This sounds very harsh I know. It’s not pleasant to write, but it was even more unpleasant to be on the receiving end of. I was all in all a really good kid who tried hard to live up to the expectations of my family, but their bar was unrealistic and failing was an absolute certainty. At some point in my later childhood I began to count the years and months until I could escape, and did so just a couple weeks after high school graduation. But given little trust during my first 18 years, there bad been few opportunities to make decisions on my own, losing the chance to learn from both my good and bad choices while under the umbrella of childhood. I was not encouraged to trust my gut – quite the opposite actually – and developed no street smarts. What followed were years of learning the hard way. I made many stupid and sometimes even terrible decisions, too often with serious consequences. When you are not raised right, it can be hard to find a good and safe path.