Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lessons From The Past

I don't write a lot about my past, and there is a reason for that. It's not that I'm trying to stay anonymous, because I could write about my past and stay anonymous. It's also not because of anger about what happened.

I don't write about it because then my mother's words, harsh, unforgiving words that I now only hear in my head (and only occasionally), would be given power again. And the biggest reason I cut off contact over 3 years ago was because of those powerful, hurtful, harsh words.

In my heart, I know that my mother always thought she was doing the right thing and that she did intend to make things, or me, better. But, she chose the wrong words. She criticized and picked until I lost confidence in my physical beauty and saw only the flaws. She never laid a finger on me, but the scars are still there, under the surface.

I learned a lot of things being around my mother, with her swiftly changing moods. I learned not to commit to something until I knew what it was. I learned how to keep my mouth shut, as she had already lost her temper and saying anything would just push her to yell longer. I learned that I had to be grown up and responsible and fairly stable for my siblings to know that this wasn't how normal people act. I learned to apologize for everything, even things I wasn't really responsible for in hopes that the yelling wouldn't last as long.

Since meeting Ace, I've learned new things. I've learned that most people see the beauty and ignore the small flaws. I've learned that I'm pretty, and that I deserve to hear that said. I've learned that I deserve to be treated better than I was in the past. I've learned that most people don't blow hot and cold on how they treat their loved ones. I've learned that getting me little things, like books and CDs, or spending time with me, isn't something I should see as just a treat for special occasions. He has helped me to see that what I grew up with wasn't normal.

Before you start wanting to blame my dad for any of these things, know this: he wasn't there day to day while my mother was saying the things she did (and I didn't tell him). He was in another state, working to provide for our needs. He was visiting us every other weekend and loved us much more than he cared for himself (still does love us). In his opinion, I'm one of the 3 best things to ever happen in his relationship with my mom. He still misses me coming and spending half the summer with him and his wife. He has never made me feel like I was less than the most special person, unless he was distracted by making my siblings feel the same.

So, I'm saying all this now, not to give my mother any of the power I took back, but to say that I know that not all abuse is physical. I know that still, after 3 years of almost no contact (1 stilted phone call and a friend request on MySpace that was just ignored), her words can come back to draw me down into the start of depression.

I chose my words carefully. I still tread lightly when I think I might anger someone, even Ace who loves me too much to ever hurt me. I try to find a balance between remembering why I don't want to resume a relationship with my mother and remembering why I do still love her and what few happy memories I can find.

I over think things way too often. I don't forgive myself enough. I say harsh words to myself.

But, I tend to temper all of that with kind words, laughter, and small things that make me happy.

I'm not telling you all this to make you feel bad for me. I say this to let you know that I'm a survivor. And I'm not letting a painful past hold me down.

But if I ever seem to be down, now you know part of the reason why. I'm still struggling with finding my emotional balance with my past. It's not an easy task. But, I'm a survivor. I can do it.
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