Disappointment

I can’t cry.  When I was a child, and my father was beating me, if I so much as shed one tear or made a single peep, he would beat me harder.  I got to the point where I had trained myself to not cry and keep completely quiet until he relented.  Unfortunately, this has followed me throughout my adult life.  Sometimes, I’ll want to cry so badly that my chest hurts, but I can’t.  I suck it up before the floodgates open.  I know it’s not a healthy thing to do, but it’s another pattern that is so hard to break.

The last time I remember letting go was earlier this year.  I was doing some intensive self-therapy regarding my motherloss.  I was reading Motherless Daughters, and I was amazed at how much what Hope Edelman was saying hit home.  It was like she wrote the book just for me.  I was writing in my journal later on, reminiscing about my mother, and I hit on a certain memory that explained so much about myself.

It was the last Christmas morning I had with her.  I’ve written about it in a previous post.  I was your typical 6-year-old child, and kids that age tend to be very blunt.  My mother was very jaundice, which subsequently made her eyes yellow.  Being the typical kid, I pointed this out to her.  I said, “Mommy, your eyes are yellow.”  She responded a bit curtly, “Thanks.”  I knew that what I said had upset her.  I didn’t mean anything by it, but it was the first time I felt like I disappointed her.  I know she didn’t mean to respond that way, but thinking about this as an adult, I just started bawling.  How could I do that to my poor mother?

This was a week and a half before she died.  She had lost a ton of weight, all her hair and she just looked extremely gaunt.  She used to be such a stunning woman.  So beautiful.  I’m sure watching herself deteriorate like that was torture.  And, I just had to throw it in her face again.  I understand why she reacted that way now, but it was that instance in time that formed another pattern in me.

I couldn’t handle disappointing anyone.  Even the thought of it made me ill.  It could’ve been someone close to me or a complete stranger.  It was that guy behind me while I’m driving that I’m constantly wondering “Am I driving fast enough?  I hope I’m not upsetting him in any way.”  It was the person I worked with that I had to stop what I was doing that second to help them with something that wasn’t even my job.  It was my daughter, who I couldn’t say no to, it was my husband who I couldn’t raise my concerns with.

After my crying session, which felt good and put a new perspective on things for me, I stopped in my tracks.  I told myself that this was not my fault and I need to change how I look at this.  It was an innocent remark from a child and a sick mother reacting.  I have noticed how I’ve changed.  I’m no longer a slave to how others feel about me.  I won’t purposely make people upset or disappointed in me, but I will not think it’s the end of the world if they do.  I still have to catch myself falling into this pattern sometimes, but it’s a gradual climb that keeps getting easier.

It’s a good weight to have off my shoulders.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. some people just hide in plain sight
    Dec 23, 2009 @ 17:09:04

    Being overly conscious of how people feel about what I’m doing is definitely something I work on too. Every day.

    How you saw the meaning of what happened that morning in a different way is so key. You can be hurt and really be so empathetic, I think part of the grieving process, but then you can see it for what it was, “a child and a sick mother responding.” Really helpful post. Thank you.

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Lonesome « From Survivor to Thriver
  3. Trackback: My Grief is Changing « From Survivor to Thriver

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