Writing Challenge Day 5 -When your past meets your present

Writing Challenge Day 5 -When your past meets your present

About an hour ago I left a presentation on “How to pay less for college”.  In summary, I’m worth more alive than dead.  Actually I have been hyper aware of this for some time.  I also learned I’m a day late and a dollar short, with zero ducks in a row, for this college preparation thing.  Though I noticed from many sighs and rubbing of temples that I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in this matter.

The triggers come quickly when I walk into a high school.  The lockers, the hallways, the pictures on the wall of which I was never a part of.  I find tears start welling up in my eyes and I have to work hard at composing myself.  This usually manifests in me looking like an angry bitch, which actually isn’t all that far from the truth.

high-school

I hate being at the high school even though it wasn’t one I attended.  I went to a different high school every year.  Parents divorced my sophomore year and we moved each year after.  When other kids were going to dances, learning to drive and keeping up their grades in hopes of getting into a great college, I was severely depressed, smoking pot, binge eating and planning my suicide.

Going to three different high schools I became lost in the system.  Not bad enough or good enough to hit anyone’s radar.  My father had abandoned me and my mother was lost in her own drama so there was no one to consider my future.  I remember them talking about taking the SAT in my junior year and saying how much it cost. It was a small amount but we were dirt poor so I didn’t believe I could do it.  I was also deeply involved in finding a way to die so I didn’t consider a future.

The gentleman doing the presentation was a financial planner and has been giving these presentations for over twelve years.  He spoke about grants, scholarships and loans and I had to struggle to stay present as my mind brought me back to being a teenager.  Could I have gotten a grant since we were so poor?  Could I have gone to college?

Please don’t ask me what I dreamed of doing or tell me it’s not too late because Grandma Moses didn’t paint her first painting until she was 78.  Don’t tell me this.  The harsh reality is that I stopped dreaming at 15 years old. I’d wanted to be a ballerina and was practicing in the living room one day.  My mother said, “What are you doing?” and I replied, “Practicing.”  She let out a laugh and said, “Why?!?”  I could see the look in her eye and knew better than to share but did it anyway “Because I want to be a dancer.”  She laughed louder this time while looking me up and down, “You will never be a dancer!  You’re too short!”  Now I’d love for this story to end with me proving her wrong and going on to be a prima ballerina.  But no.  Instead I quit ballet and stopped dreaming.

Life became about survival and still is to this day.  “So when you are planning your child’s education…” {Why didn’t anyone plan anything for me?  Why didn’t I matter?} “When filling out the FAFSA….” {Was this even around when I was young?  I don’t know.  I’m confused.  I’m overwhelmed.} “So depending on what percent…” {What could I have done with my life?  Was there any hope anyway?}

I left the school as fast as I could after the presentation was done.  I tried to focus on my car and not see the auditorium or the football field.  Each place is reminder of what didn’t happen for me.

It’s been decades since I was in high school but the pain is still fresh.  I’ve found that things I thought I was over resurface when my child hits the age I was at when some trauma happened.  I wonder if I’ll ever get to the other side or if I’m doomed to a life of flashbacks and triggers.

I send my son pictures of me at my desk with the caption “Don’t let this be you.  Work hard.  Go for your dreams.”  He wants to be a screenwriter and eventually a director.  “How is he going to survive and pay his bills?” You know what; I don’t know.  But I sure as fuck will support him.

 

 

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I will not be her

Her.  My mother.  Now much has been said about how tumultuous the mother ~ daughter relationship can be.  Mothers and daughters fighting with each other for connection and autonomy.  There has also been as much said about abusive mothers and the trail of pain they leave behind.  My mother is somewhere in between.  I type this with my stomach in a knot, worrying about saying too much, yet desperately needing to share my truth.  When I had my son, my only child, my mother said, “You HAVE to have a 2nd child!  You need a daughter!  You need to experience the mother daughter dynamic!”  I replied, with a glare, “I’ve already had enough with you and I don’t need anymore.”

I’m not ready to share the nitty gritty of it all.  There is way too much.  I will say she did nice “motherly” things, and still does, but in a self-serving way.  The children never came first.  Her wants and desires always took precedence.  And if we were caught in the crossfire, well to quote her, “Tough!”  I’ve learned recently that my mother is a narcissist.  I’m an empath.  A narcissist and an empath are a horrible combination, as the empath gets destroyed.

So I had a baby and decided that this sweet child would always come first.  No matter what.  All decisions were made with the overarching thought “I will give him a better life.  He will know without any question that he’s loved and accepted.  And I will not be selfish.”  He bit me while nursing during teething episodes and I took it instead of putting him down and saying, “No.”.  I wanted him to be first.  I spent every waking hour of every week end with him, leaving no time for myself, as I felt so guilty that I had to work.  I praised his every move.  I did anything and everything I thought a “good parent” should do.  And though there have been bumps along the way, I have an amazing young man now.

Yet he’s pulling away.  He’s doing what a normal healthy 17 year old boy should do and establishing himself as an adult.  After all these years of giving him everything, and seeing I’m no longer number one, it hurts but I accept it.

I find thoughts creeping in, that I haven’t had for nearly 30 years, of running away.  Thoughts of packing a suitcase, jumping on a plane and flying away with no plan at all.  (I’ve done this multiple times.)  Running away would be something she would do.  Or rather, divorce, marry  a few more times, get in a mess and expect me, her child, to bail her out.  I will not be her.

I’ve been spending money on myself lately.  Spending wildly with the core thought “I’m about to die anyway!”  This mantra came on since the death of my father.  Life feels very short and I feel like I’ve missed out.  Missed out by being safe, saving and surviving.  I want to buy something ridiculous as a big “fuck you” to all those telling me I can’t.  But this would be her, selfishly thinking only of her wants.  I will not be her.

It’s terrifying when you see the behaviors you despised, those that hurt so deeply, being acted out by you.  It is difficult not to worry that because these are the genes you come from that this is what you are destined to become.  A lifetime of working to be different only to hear her voice in your own, see her actions become yours and to feel that selfishness creeping in.

I’m at a crossroads.  How can I live the life I want and still be a good mother?  And most importantly; how can I not be her?  My only answers are awareness, doing the next right thing, being cognizant of my actions.  Because above all ~ I will not be her.

mother daughter