Sometimes in my life, I have felt like I am a hot mess express, and I’m pretty sure, like about 1 million percent sure, it’s a direct result of my childhood and my upbringing. Now don’t get me wrong; I am so very grateful for my mom and dad. I love them dearly, but I am scarred by them as well. I can’t possibly share all of the instances that stand out to me as just downright odd or not typical of a “normal” childhood, but I can sincerely share the overall takeaway: Each day, I carry a lot of pain because of my parents, and I possess a strong longing for a normal parent-child relationship; that longing burns deep inside of me. I never had “normal,” and for that, I still suffer.
I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to write a letter to my parents expressing some pent-up frustrations over the years, especially now as an adult. I’m pretty confident it would look like this:
“Dear Mom and Dad,
I love you so much. Thank you for all you have done for me! But, I am an adult now. Please stop telling me what to do all the time. Please be more positive. Please support me.
Please let me live my own life.
I understand many parents are probably like mine; they care so much that they perhaps over-insert or overextend themselves into their children’s lives. It probably comes from a good place, right? Also, I know I am fortunate to a) still have my parents alive b) still have parents who genuinely care c) repeat a and b. So, I don’t want to sound like a petulant brat.
Yet, I shake my head quite often because even though I am an adult, just like when I was living under their roof, they still act like they have a say in Every. Single. Aspect. Of. My. Life. Parenting, my marriage, my career, my friendships, my hobbies, even my choices about working out…it’s always something. I often feel nitpicked and deflated instead of uplifted and empowered. I mean, aren’t parents supposed to be your biggest fan? Your unyielding supporters? A source of strength and sunshine? But, mine don’t come across that way at all, and I don’t even think they are aware of it.
I wish my mom and dad would understand by now that I get to make my own decisions. I wish I could make choices without their judgment or outright disdain or criticism, and for once, have them celebrate, well, me. I struggle with internal conflict, because again, I know I am lucky to have my parents and that they truly do care, but (insert expletive here), it’s downright draining dealing with them sometimes.
I hide so many things from them out of fear of their response and criticism. That’s not normal to me. I wish they could trust me; for once, it would be nice to feel truly supported instead of scrutinized or having to bear the agonizing angst of their disapproval. I feel like I am never good enough to anyone; that’s not a good feeling.
My dad, in particular, can incite fear and anxiety just by one look or from a simple statement; he has no filter, and it can really pick you apart over time. I remember back in high school, sitting in my bedroom with all sorts of random pills from the medicine cabinet. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew I was unhappy and in a terrible spot. So, with the random pill potpourri of Ibuprofen and allergy medicine and multi-vitamins, I was either planning on numbing myself or getting a ton of vitamin C. Thankfully I talked myself out of ingesting any of it. However, it still bothers me to this day that I was in that situation.
The silver lining is I know I will never be this way with my kids now or when they become adults. Yes, I will always be there for them, but I’m not going to ever make them feel insecure or afraid to share what’s going on in their life or the need to dread my responses. I want them to truly know and feel they have a normal, supportive mom who is always in their corner. That’s the kind of unconditional love I wanted, and even though I didn’t receive it, I will definitely be passing it along. Sometimes we learn from what we don’t have what we truly want, and we learn from experiencing what love is not, what love should be.