Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thankfulness Thursdays: Week 7 - Personal Growth


This is Week 7 of Thankfulness Thursdays.  Through Thanksgiving, I will be posting once a week about something/someone(s) I am thankful for.  This is a link-up with Ashley from Domestic Fashionista.

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"You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you." - Brian Tracy

I've been putting off this post for a while, thinking and rethinking about writing it at all.  I've constantly second-guessed myself while staring at the computer screen.  But I want to be honest, and mostly open, about this topic without making it a scathing attack on anyone or even a negative critique.  Plus, it's for Thankfulness Thursday.  It's supposed to be a positive post about seeing the light in the dark. 

So this week, I'm thankful for self-awareness, or maybe personal growth, or maybe the knowledge to know better than my feelings.  All of the above.


My mom wasn't always the way she is now.  When my brother and I were little, I remember her presence with us during the day.  I remember playing on the trampoline, playing with our dog, going on outings to the beach or zoo or what not.  She'd make our costumes for Halloween or school performances.  She'd go all out as the Tooth Fairy, sparkling up dollar bills with glitter.  She did things like that when we were little and it was wonderful.  Those memories are some of my most positive childhood memories.  We moved around a lot and I was painfully shy, so it was hard for me to make friends.  I was always "The Fat Girl" and was made fun of constantly.  So the joy in my childhood memories comes from these special things my mom did for us, places we went, family get-togethers and holidays.

Then something changed.  Maybe it was that my parents' relationship got worse.  But long before the nightly fights started between them, my mom began to treat me differently.  She became a very angry and hateful person.  Suddenly, nothing I did was ever good enough.  The way I looked was suddenly disgusting to her.  She'd pick apart every aspect of my appearance.  Instead of looking in my eyes when we had a conversation, she'd be looking all over my face for imperfections: zits, blackheads, blemishes, stray hairs, etc.  I was constantly reminded of what she saw as imperfections and flaws when it came to me.  I don't know if she had planned to live vicariously through me since she didn't have a great childhood.  I always felt she wished I was this perfect, popular, beautiful daughter so she could feel better about herself.  When I turned out to be the fat, shy, smart-type, things just went downhill.

It was easier for me to stay hidden in my room instead of putting myself in the line of her constant insults.  Typically, my weight was the issue.  I was an "elephant, a pig, lumpy, slow, lazy, etc."  My childhood dreams of meeting the New Kids On The Block and moving to Boston were "pathetic ideas because no one cared about [me]" and "I would never make it to Boston".  (I did move to Boston on my own, but she never acknowledged that I made it happen for myself.  If you've followed me for a while you may also know that meeting the New Kids got checked off my list.)

In fact, many of the issues I have with my mom (and have tried on multiple occasions to talk about with her, to hash things out), she will deny.  She denies calling me names.  She calls me a liar when I tell her how things she said hurt my feelings.  I had regrets with things I didn't get to say to my dad because of all her manipulating of me not to talk to him.  When I found out he died, she said "Good riddance to bad rubbish" right in front of me.  She was mad I wanted to go to his funeral and told me the plane ticket was my "birthday present and graduation gift in one, so [I] better have fun."  She talked about how much she hated my dad and would then turn around and tell me that I reminded her of him.  How is one supposed to take that??  That kind of crap sticks with you no matter how hard you try to forget.

I have tried so hard to sort out our issues, but every time I am rejected and denied and called a liar, amongst other choice names.  The last time I tried to reason with her was last October.  I was so honest and open about things from the past that really hurt me.  I told her how much I wanted to work things out with her, that I wanted her in my life as my mother, that I needed her to understand my feelings and acknowledge these things.  I reminded her that she is my only living parent.  It was my sincere hope that spelling these things out to her and telling her exactly what I want from her (a loving relationship, a clean slate) would result in a long, heart-to-heart conversation that would end in tears and hugs and a renewed sense of hope.  You know, like in the movies.  lol

I spilled my guts to her about things I had been holding in for fear she would be mad at me.  I worked so hard on this email, to say things right and to get my point across.  These were tough subjects and none of it was to be taken lightly.  And she told me to "get over it" and then called me a liar and said it was all false.  Then she told me that I had my husband's parents to be around and she had no desire to be a part of my life.  And that was pretty much the last time I heard from her.  She lives about 40 minutes away, but refuses to call me or my brother.  She couldn't even be bothered to converse with me when I left her a voicemail that my father-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia.  She never bothered to say anything to us when he passed away either.

I don't always think about her or the things she has said to me when all is quiet.  I don't always stew on her harsh words or lack of love for me or my brother.  But now and then, I do think about it.  Sometimes it is a pity party because it is hard for me to mourn the loss of her when she is so close and just refuses to be a decent human being.  I think about what else I could say to make her understand, or what else I could do to change things.

But the thing that I've realized, the thing that I am thankful for finally figuring out, is that it isn't me.  It isn't anything in me that is inherently wrong or bad.  It isn't me that isn't good enough.  It isn't me that did anything wrong by merely existing or being a by-product of her relationship with my dad.  I've been fortunate enough to have wonderful friends and other family members around me who have helped me see all the good in me.  They have encouraged me and supported me when I needed it most.  They have helped heal my spirit when I was so beaten down and unhappy.

I've realized that my mother is a sad, hateful person. And mostly, she hates herself.  I may never know all the reasons, and at this point, I may never get answers or be able to help her.  But I know that her angst for me can't even come close to how bad she feels about herself.  It makes me sad.  It hurts my heart.  I just can't help her if she doesn't even want to help herself, or acknowledge reality.

I can't say I have overcome it all yet.  It is still a constant struggle to deal with the issues and feelings I have in regards to my relationship with my mom and how she has treated me.

Somehow, despite everything, I turned out to be a strong, intelligent woman who values myself.  I don't hinge my self-esteem on attention from the opposite sex.  I turned out to be someone that is open and honest.  I'm someone who helps people because it is the right thing to do, not because it will bring attention or fortune of some kind to me.  I'm not fickle, not hateful, and not miserable or jealous of the happiness of others.

Somehow I turned out to be the complete opposite of my mother.  And I'll always be thankful for that.


This is the last decent picture I have of my mom and I together.  It's from the summer of 2010.

A song that reminds me of this whole situation is "Not All Me" by Alanis Morissette. 

15 comments :

  1. Keep moving forward Hailey. You have done what you can and now the best thing you can do for you and your mom is to live your best life. Maybe someday she will realize, maybe she won't. It's her burden to bare though. Can't wait to see you guys this weekend!

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  2. Wow, thank you for sharing. I am always so amazed at how those things we hear when we were young play such a huge role in the person we become. I have memories of words that stick with me or of people who get deep under my skin. But to deal with that on such a higher level with your own mother must have been so painful. I am so proud of you for being able to see your past and choose to turn and see the reality of it. Because you are completely right. You are enough just the way you are and for whatever reason your mom turned was because of her issues and not yours. I actually have a somewhat related post to share tomorrow about writing to my teenage self about those things I held on to as a young girl and finding hope in an adult that I am good enough the way I am. Thanks for sharing. You have a powerful story of hope to share. xo

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  3. Hailey,
    You are not only beautiful, but amazing! This post gave me chills as I read it. I think you were the safe person to take her anger out on thinking you would always be there for her. This happens alot in relationships. Unfortunately for her it backfired...you came out the strong one, the wiser one. Sometimes people are born with very young souls and have to go through many lives to improve and learn lessons...your moms soul is young and yours is old. I don't know who was to learn by the universe bringing your two souls together in this lifetime...you seem to be finding out though. On the other hand I think your mom has many more lives ahead of her...
    I relate to you in many ways and you have taught me so much in the time I have known you...I know that you always make me smile...never say unkind things and are honest to the core, I admire all that in you. Many of those attributes I need to work on.
    You are our family and we are yours, we will always love you and be here for you, the universe brought you to us through Steve, for that I am so thankful on this Thursday!

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  4. Hailey, One of the best things to happen in my life was meeting you. You are strong, honest, kind, and above all beautiful inside and out. Your relationship with your mom is unfortunate, but it is her problem and burden to bear. All you can do is go on living your life with your utterly AMAZING husband and accept that, although not traditional, you have family. One that is better because you got to choose it. You have and always will have me and countless others to fill that role. I'm proud to call you my friend and family. Love you!!

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    1. This is Nigel!! My phone is dumb, sorry.

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  5. Hailey, One of the best things to happen in my life was meeting you. You are strong, honest, kind, and above all beautiful inside and out. Your relationship with your mom is unfortunate, but it is her problem and burden to bear. All you can do is go on living your life with your utterly AMAZING husband and accept that, although not traditional, you have family. One that is better because you got to choose it. You have and always will have me and countless others to fill that role. I'm proud to call you my friend and family. Love you!!

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  6. Beautiful entry. It's so hard to value yourself when someone is tearing you down, especially when that someone is your parent....but it seems like you have done that, and then some. You seem like such a positive, happy, loving person.

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  7. There's not much I can say that hasn't already been said, but that was such a good post and really awesome of you to share with your readers. I hope that putting it out there will help you continue to accept and move past this situation.

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  8. I am totally speaking out of turn here, but we have talked several times about your mom, but reading this just made me angry. I know she's your mom and you love her, but she is a total bitch. Back when I first started blogging I wrote about pinterest and thinspo and there was a quote that I thought was great. Something like- If you you talked to your friends the way you talk to your body, how many friends would you have? And I asked- would you talk to your daughter like that- with such hate and scorn? Apparently, yes, yes she will. I am so glad you have moved on past this and you are smart enough to realize that you aren't the problem. You are beautiful and smart and awesome and SHE is missing out on that. Sometimes the best we can do is end the cycle and KNOW we WILL NOT be that person. Love you!

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  9. Thank you so much, Ashley. I really appreciate your kind words. I still have your Letter to your Teenage Self post up in a tab to read. Even though this was really hard to write, I'm so glad that I did. It has really helped me purge a lot of pain from my mind.

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  10. Thank you so much, Sugar. :-) This made me smile and cry at the same time. It's so helpful to hear from someone who knows my mom and can attest to some of the things she has done. I feel validated, or like, I'm not going crazy or imagining things because she is always in such denial and so dismissive of things.
    I am so happy and grateful that I have all of you in my life and so grateful for all of your support. Love you!

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  11. Thank you. I definitely have my days when I am not so positive or happy, but I know the importance of being those things and I really am quite grateful for everything and everyone I have in my life.
    But it is hard to value oneself in that atmosphere. It has been a struggle all of my life and I am finally getting to a place where I feel more like who I am meant to be and who I want to be. Being honest about my struggles really lends to that. I hope it might help others who may be going through similar emotions.
    I appreciate your kind words and hope to continue to be a positive, happy, and loving person :-D

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  12. Thank you so much, Rebecca. It was difficult to write and nerve-wracking to put out there, but I am glad I did. I think it has really helped me purge a lot of the pain and heartache of the situation. I mean, it still hurts and makes me upset, but I think it helped me accept the reality of things more. I don't feel obsessed with the same thoughts I had prior to writing this. I'm grateful for that freedom. Thank you for reading!

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  13. Hi, Katie! Well, I certainly can't argue with you on the "bitch" part. And even if she had valid reasons for being one, she is a grown ass woman and should know better than to act that way. I think a lot of my frustration with her (and my brother...but that is a whole other story) is that she doesn't try to change or better herself. She doesn't try to become a better person. She just pretends to be someone awesome to other people so they can think she is the victim when she tells them what an awful daughter she has.
    It's funny you mention the Pinterest quote. I have one I pinned a while ago that reminded me of her. It is very similar. "If I treated you the way you treated me, You would hate me."
    I truly appreciate your lovely words of encouragement. You are so sweet. (((BIG HUGS)))

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