Archive for February, 2012

What Do I Believe About Myself?

February 19, 2012

I started this entry awhile ago, have come back to it 2 or 3 times and it still doesn’t feel quite right.

I saw this question a while back and I have been letting it simmer on the back burner for awhile.  Some obvious answers are “I’m not good enough”; “I’m not worthy”;”I’m not eligible or qualified for the good things in life”.   It’s a lot of how I have thought about myself for a long time.  Yet it didn’t really feel quite “right”.  This morning I was getting dressed to go to a networking breakfast and it popped into mind “I don’t believe there is anything special about me”.  I have compared myself to other people and always found myself wanting.  Trouble is, I am the only one who sees it that way.  So where did this begin?

I am the middle child of three daughters – no  doubt with all the usual middle child hang ups.  My older sister is a wonderful artist; I have admired her all my life and wanted to be able to draw and paint the way she does.  I tried but never measured up – my judgment rather than anyone else’s.  My younger sister seemed to breeze through things, did so well with music and later on writing, having her books published.  I never felt anything I did was all that special except when I did some creative things, more crafter than fine artist.  I realize I have not given myself credit for things I have done because it seemed normal, what one does in the situation.  When it comes to RA, I never realized I had a choice of whether I was going to deal with or not, I figured I had to go to the doctor, have it treated and live my life.  It has been with me so long, I’ve done whatever I needed to do to get through the day, through the flare up, the medical procedures, creating a life around what I could do physically and somehow moving from one place to another, making a new life each time.  It never seemed to be that big of an accomplishment, only what I had to do.

There have been times when I have had people tell me I have such a positive attitude – I wonder where that came from because so often I have been down, depressed, cranky and not much fun to be around.  They also say they marvel that I am able to do so much with RA – why does it feel so minor to me?  Where did I begin to discount myself, who I am and what I have accomplished?

I have been thinking about this post since I last wrote and I have realized I see myself as a result of other peoples’ comments and perceptions of me.  Except I have only heard and taken in the negative bits – wonder why the positive ones didn’t come through as well or stronger.  I also now understand that most of my feedback in childhood was more negative than positive – I know Mom was trying to protect all three of us girls in the only way she knew how.  I often wonder what her childhood was like – she only talks about her aunts and uncles, grandparents, some about her parents – but not the details that would help me understand her better.  When I asked her about them, what they were like, she would say they didn’t analyze everything back then.  Or if she wasn’t willing to talk, she would just say “I don’t know”.  She is a true Yankee New Englander, born and raised in Connecticut and not one to talk much about feelings.  My Dad was more talkative, though he was closed-mouthed some about things too.

Now I have begun to realize I have been looking outside myself for validation all my life – I haven’t loved, accepted, approved or trusted myself.  I can’t make my parents responsible for all of it – as an adult I have had choices, although I didn’t really realize it at the time.  I just went on with what I had always known.  I have to take responsibility for my adult choices all these year – yes, it is much easier to blame someone else and see myself as a victim.  But I am not a victim even though ego wants me to continue that so she can be in control.  I know I am a late bloomer, I didn’t realize it would take until my 60’s to begin to bloom.  I am also learning I had to go through the last 65 years to be ready for this part of my life – still hard to grasp it has been perfect all the way through.  Maybe it is because the definition of perfect has always been Make (something) completely free from faults or defects, satisfying all requirements and corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept.  So now it is time to redefine perfect in terms of my life.  I always felt I had to be perfect, do things perfectly, then beat myself up because I didn’t or couldn’t do or be perfect – an impossibility from the beginning.  (That’s another blog post by itself!).

I will admit I am not really happy about this post, it doesn’t feel as if it flows and goes anywhere.  But I will post it anyway and invite anyone to give me some feedback and suggestions to make it better.  Or maybe I am just too close to it and need to step back from it and not stress about it.  Not all blog posts are stellar.

The Good Girl

February 12, 2012

I was brought up to be a good girl – follow the rules, be polite and let others go first, ask for permission to do something, be self-effacing because being confident and saying positive things about myself was boasting and bragging.  There is a big long list, you get the drift.  I am not saying this was all bad, just that some parts I have carried over my whole life without realizing they aren’t necessarily to my advantage any more.  The three of us girls had rules and they were always reinforced when necessary.  As a kid, that was good thing because we tested the limits to make sure they still held – it gave us security and stability.  As an adult, I hear Dr. Phil in my head – “How’s that working for you?”.  I look back at my life over 60+ years and I realized I have spent my life asking for permission to do things, to be sure what I want to do it “all right”.  That one hasn’t been working so well for as an adult because I realize I haven’t had confidence in myself  or trusted my instincts.  Asking for permission seemed to work for our parents for the two of older daughters – my younger sister would announce “I have done. . . . “.  Where did that come from and how did I miss that one?  Then again, spanking worked for the first two but not the third daughter, our parents had to find other ways with her.

So why didn’t I trust myself?  It was all that micromanaging and second guessing from our Mom.  She was doing it to protect us and would be horrified if she realized the results for our adult lives.  I am not sure what in her upbringing and childhood gave her such a fearful outlook about the world – we were taught that the world is a scary place, so make sure to be safe and secure before venturing out.  News Flash!  That is not always possible!  How does one take risks in life, explore the world and still be safe and secure?  I’m still looking for the answer to that one.  It meant that when I had that “I know that I know” about something, I still was hesitant to act – I had to clear it with someone to validate what I knew in my heart.  I have been afraid I would “get it wrong”.  It took me a long time to realize that was one way I gave away my power, now at 65 I am taking it back – it’s feels scary at times and I still doubt myself. I finally understand those seeds of doubt come from ego and she wants me scared and in the negative because then she is fully in control.  I am learning to say “Thank you for sharing, I choose something different”. I know she is trying to protect me (us), I just don’t want to live in fear any more.  I also know I can know something and still be talked into a different course that I know isn’t right for me – this listening and trusting my intuition is still new and I am working on going with my heart center even though it is scary and I am a little unsure.

I also know I want everyone to like me, then I know I am accepted.  I haven’t felt that way in very many situations – Ike Pono was one place where I was loved, accepted and supported in a non-judgmental community.  Boy, did that feel good – I felt so at home there.  I learned so much there and also contributed to it as well; we were all learning, no one “had it made”.  I was sorry when it ended, I want to find another community that has that same feeling of support and help where I can truly be myself.  I will admit it was uncomfortable at times, but so worth it.  As I have worked through things since then and especially with Debye and the deep tissue massage to unearth and resolve things bury way down since childhood, it can be uncomfortable too.   The difference now is that I am not beating myself up any more for what I have thought about myself all these years; it is making sense at last and helping me to become the person I have truly been all this time.  I not saying everyone needs to do it to resolve things, only that it has been one of the ways I have found that works for me.  It is more a matter of being willing to look at those uncomfortable things in life and find ways to come to terms with them.  I am only an expert about my own life.

I have realized all this insecurity has been a factor in having RA.  Louise Hay writes in her book “You Can Heal Your Life”  about the causes of different conditions.  For RA she wrote:  Deep criticism of authority.  Feeling put upon.  For arthritis it is:  Feeling unloved, Criticism, resentment.  Hmmmm.  Sounds a little too close to home for comfort.  Louise writes that when we love ourselves truly and completely, so many things disappear.  I haven’t loved myself, I’ve always felt there was something wrong with me, something unacceptable, that I was unlovable.  Still not sure exactly how that became my self view; what’s important is that I have begun to change that perception to one of love.  I have done a lot of work, still more to do but I am so encouraged I am willing to deal with the uncomfortable stuff.

The Flip Side

February 5, 2012

I wrote about my Mom last week and the difficulties of dealing with her progression into dementia.  I had an email from my sister Candy a few weeks back that reminded me that life with Mom has not always been difficult.  She wrote:

I think all three of us–you, me, and Ellen–have longed for the approval and encouragement from Mom. She expressed her love in other ways: doll clothes, school lunches, and dire warnings of disasters.  Yet she did encourage us in so many ways. I remember she helped with my Bluebird group, sewed dresses for school and for dolls, made delicious meals, celebrated birthdays and holidays, and took time and care to wrap gifts, make picnic lunches for Vashon Island adventures, bathed us when we were sick (remember hot lemonade? the special bath soap only used when we were sick?) and so many other expressions of mother love and concern. Some people are great at parenting for one age group, but not for other age groups. Mom was, I think, best at being a parent for the younger years, when little ones needed to be shepherded more closely and she could do all the homemaker things for us and Daddy. Teenage years were more difficult for her (and us!) to navigate.  Sometimes I wish I could be a little girl again, bouncing on Mom and Dad’s bed on Christmas morning, opening red flannel stockings stuffed with goodies. But it is Christmas in my heart.

I realize I have spent my whole life looking for Mom’s approval and support, I now know it is something she can’t give because she never had it herself.  It is letting go of wanting it from her and understanding that all that love, acceptance, approval and trust comes from within me and my source.  Candy has reminded me that our childhood was not all “Don’t!” every time we turned around.  I have been working on coming to terms with Mom and how I see my childhood and my relationship to her.  For the past few years living here, I have only been aware and remembering the things that drive me crazy – learning to take the emotion out of it is not always easy.  Before Mom goes, I would like to have the great memories and feelings in the forefront, to keep that in mind, especially in those very frustrating times.   I’d like to ask both you and Ellen to start a list of things that were special for you, things that Mom did or said that you appreciated.  I would be interested to see how many we all put on the list and what is different – I realize both of you had different views of things and I would like to know more about that.

  •    Alcohol back rubs when we had flu – so soothing and refreshing
  •   I asked for sliced black olive sandwiches for lunch and she would make them.  I loved the meatloaf sandwiches.
  •   Coming home from school and Mom was there, baking cookies or downstairs  ironing, the smell of fresh clothes.
  •   She took us to the library after school for books.  I have a picture in my mind of being in the library in Madrona with Mom and Dad, everyone had a large pile of books to check out.  So appreciate their example of reading – it has always been one of my greatest pleasures.  I don’t remember learning to read, it is as if I have always known how to read.
  •   Saturday outings to different places, Mom making two lunches – peanut butter and crackers for Candy to eat on the ride, a proper lunch for all of us later.
  •   Mom trying out new recipes for dinner, enjoying the creativity of it.
  •   Yes, I remember the doll clothes for Christmas, clothes for Christmas and I especially remember that huge blue stuffed horse she made for Candy one year in Manhattan Beach.  it’s head was so heavy it always drooped to the side.
  •   When I could order a blouse from Sears or Ward’s and spending time deciding which one would work the best.
  •   When we went camping Mom did all the cooking and  planned lunches.   Remember when she would go into the grocery store and come out with bread, lunchmeat and a spread of some sort?
  • I always felt loved and wanted.  They gave us manners and integrity, respect for other people and their property, discipline and boundaries we could test and find they stayed in place. We always did things as a family; whether it was yard work, outings, playing cards, etc.  Now the boat is a whole story by itself.
  • Mom had a great sense of humor, we laughed a lot and she would come out with unexpected things that made us laugh.
  • Mom taught us how to make beds with hospital corners, to iron and clean house so we would be able to do when we were on our own.
  • We all had fun making root beer, all the steps.  We did a lot of hand cranked ice cream as well.
  • She helped welcome Eddie into the family and make him feel a part of it.  I think he has felt Mom and Dad were like his own parents.
  • Hot chocolate after going to see the Christmas ship
  • Making Christmas cookies
  • Birthdays – the birthday plate, chocolate cake with white 7 minute icing, candles, birthday parties and the birthday box with pink and blue crepe paper

My sister Ellen is working on her list, though one thing she did mention – as well as remembering alcohol rubs when we were sick – was “the biggest thing for me is my great gratitude for my college education”.

Somewhere inside this stubborn, irritating and unpredictable woman is that witty, loving and creative mother all three of us girls remember.    I would much rather remember all of the loving things she did rather than how it feels at this moment.


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