Saturday, December 01, 2007

We Each Have Our Own Path....

After writing yesterday's post and reading the comments, one of them got me thinking.

Flutter asked at what point we stop wanting our parents to be what we want them to be.

For me, that was a long road. I honestly believe that one of the things we all need in this life is a path. We need guidance. We need a faith. Regardless of what we may choose to call it, we all put our faith in something, usually something bigger than us. When we are in touch with that, we have a greater understanding of our own fallibility.

I no longer need Helene to be what I want her to be. The reality is that she came to this life with her own path, just as I came with mine. Whatever we had to learn from each other has been done and I feel "clean" about leaving that relationship behind. We are done. And that's okay.

For any survivor of child abuse, I suspect there's a period of time when we need to blame our parents. All of our personal shortcomings and failures are put on their doorsteps. The anger is normal and natural. The truth is that Helene had me for 18 years but I've had me for 38 years. At this point, I am responsible for my own shortcomings and my own failures. I am also responsible for the good stuff.

There's a point when we grow up and realize that those people who raised us were fallible human beings. They are people who had children at a young age and most of us, if we look back truthfully, can only guess what we might have done at the age of 19 or 20.

Helene was 20 years old when she had me. She has her own karma and her own woundedness. The worst years of the abuse would have had her between 25-40 years old. From my vantage point now, she was a kid herself. Like me, she has created her own reality. I would say that having a husband who committed suicide and a daughter who will not associate with her is punishment enough. (Not that I am exacting punishment. I wouldn't wish that on that on anyone!)

But the reality is that in order for me to be alright, I can not be around someone who diminishes me. Maybe I'm not that strong. I would rather surround myself with people who are positive, uplifting and content enough with themselves that they don't require another human being as an emotional punching bag.

We reap what we sow. And I long ago came to the conclusion that the mistakes she made are not mine to judge. That's for a much Higher Court than any I will preside over.

What I can do is keep a close watch on what I do, what I believe, how I treat others. Because that's my path.



flutter said...

Absolutely it, Chani. Precisely.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

As one who has walked that path, I can say that there is a degree of comfort in having someone to blame. But ultimately, as you point out, that is unrealistic and also unrewarding.

It is well to remember that most parents who screwed up were young adults when we were children, and there are, unfortunately, no manuals for parenting, although there should be.

You are proof that it is possible to save ourselves, no matter how we were treated, and that fills me with hope for all the many abused children out there who are confused and scared.

slouching mom said...

The truth is that Helene had me for 18 years but I've had me for 38 years.

How wise. So many never understand this point, I think.

Molly said...

Everyone grows older, not everyone grows wiser. I think you have.

Martha Elaine Belden said...

i just read this and the previous posts. what a life you've led. i admire the way you've picked yourself off and carried on. you're obviously a stronger person than you give yourself credit for. i admire you for not shifting all blame to your mother -- however cruel and callous she may have been. there's no doubt much of your experience in life has been tainted by the way she wronged you as a child. but as adults, i think we do have to get to a point where we take responsibility for our lives -- both our mistakes and our accomplishments.

you're obviously a fascinating woman, and i'm so thrilled you introduced yourself.

Julie Pippert said...

My anger---the worst I've ever had towards my parents about not being who I needed---peaked during our infertility years. Oh how I craved the loving support then. And for the first time for real, I let myself be angry and grieve for not having the parents I wanted. They do their best, they are the best parents they can be, and they aren't bad. But they have disappointed me at times as I have disappointed them. I wish we had a better degree of unconditionality (call Webster's) but we don't.

When I became a parent is when I really began letting it go, when I really began understanding.

It's not a burden on the kids, but in a way, they've been a bridge between me and my parents.

So yes, I agree with what you say here. There is a point at which we realize their fallibility and stop focusing on the disappointment and failure and recognize our own responsibility and be our best, too.

And that's the real time it happened for me: my early 30s.

Using My Words

blooming desertpea said...

You know a bit of my story and like mine, your's is as sad, although my parents weren't that young when they had me.

I believe we all make mistakes (I'm sure my children will make accountable for some of my own) but I too believe that it is for a much Higher Court to judge and we can only be responsible for what we do, for what we choose and how we treat others.

Tricia said...

"I would rather surround myself with people who are positive, uplifting and content enough with themselves that they don't require another human being as an emotional punching bag." too. That was awesome.

Anonymous said...

There is so much I could say, agree with, discuss with you, so much on this topic. I have not outright abandoned my relationship with my mother. There is still a modicum of value left for me, a bigger picture. I feel as a parent, she was hideous, as a person, she is amazing. As a grandma, she can earn forgiveness in her karma. I want her to earn it. Even though I give her the opportunity only sparingly through my kids.

crazymumma said...

Your last sentence said it beautifully.

Angela said...

Coming to recognize my mother's lack of confidence in her own ability to pull us out of the path of harm provides me with a sense of peace that is helping me move forward. It wasn't that she "didn't" was also that she "couldn't."

Eventually, using blame no longer provided me the easy relief it did initialy. I think I needed to be able to point a finger in the beginning just to clear about the fact that the abuse was not my fault. THEY did it. But beyond that, blame grows an excuse. Blame doesn't provide me with the meaning I need to draw out of my experiences...and that has been where the real "healing" lies, I suppose.

Stephen Newton said...

My mother also had an affect on us. I left home early and seldom went back, appearing once every several years. I saw her just before she died from Parkinsons. She had always been a proud, beautiful and independent woman. When I last saw her, she was frozen in her body, unable to move or speak. I held her hand and told her that I was sorry I had never really known her, that I was OK, and that I loved her. She squeezed my hand twice and a tear rolled down her cheek.

That painful encounter showed me that the universe has our punishment worked out for us and that there was nothing I could do to my mother beyond the horror of her illness.

Emily said...

That's just it. Carrying around anger at her is not going to do anything for you, but that does not mean you need to spend time with someone who is toxic to you. She missed out when she could not accept who you are, but you have learned to do so.

mitzh said...

You have a good heart, Chani.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you.

It's helpful to us to acknowledge who/how/what they were and how that influenced/influences us. But in the end, everything we do is a choice we make. Hopefully for the right reasons.

Even if I am a horrible mother, perhaps I can pass this particular lesson on to my children.

storyteller said...

Amen Sister! Those last two paragraphs sum it all up :)
Hugs and blessings,

painted maypole said...

thank you for letting us walk with you on your path for a while

Journey Through Life said...

You've gained such wonderful wisdom from all this. Something to be really grateful for!

liv said...

That was a tough question a la flutter. One I don't know if I could have taken up. SO, kudos to you for the courage. I think I stopped wishing and hoping and expecting when my son was born. I could see it from both sides, and I realized a lot of stuff was just stuff that needed to be shelved. Sometimes I look at my old posts about her (search under "bear") and I think it's all a bit silly.