Reality check is my weekly confessional. The good, bad, and ugly will go here so that I can just... be. Be real. Be authentic.
On Monday, I wrote about Taking Responsibility. I've kept that in mind all week as I went about my business at home, at the gym, and at work. I do agree with my statement in the post that I personally have a harder time setting emotional boundaries to keep myself out of other people's business than I do taking care of my own. I'm actually pretty great at taking care of my own business and owning up to my choices. But I wasn't always this way.
I was raised in a family that dealt very poorly with conflict. My mother dominated all conflict. In other words, my dad, brother, and I never got a chance to argue or defend. And those aren't things we should necessarily seek to do, but as a child, being told what to think about everything leaves very little room for growth. We were taught by example to cut and run.
My mother never took responsibility; it was always someone else's fault. We were so afraid of her growing up that we never argued with her. If we were blamed, we would just say sorry, accept our punishment, and move on. My dad did some defending of us kids at times, mostly of me, a daddy's girl, and I suspect that is one of the many reasons our relationship was so adversarial. In my adult life, though, my dad has had less and less energy to put up a fight and so he is a victim by association.
An example of my mom's victim mindset would be all of the relationships that died at her hands. My dad's mom and brother, and not one, but two, of my mom's sisters were cut off after arguments allegedly about how badly they treated her. These arguments were all independent of one another, and were spread out over the course of many years. Perhaps they did treat her badly, I doubt as bad as she says, but she certainly didn't take any responsibility for the reasons they had problems. She just disowned them. Cut and run.
And now there's me and my brother. She was so embarrassed and upset over my divorce from my ex-husband that she forbid me to tell anyone in my family. There are members of my family to this day that still think I am in my first marriage. She told me that if I was unhappy with him that didn't matter; I should stay married to him because that's the right thing to do. I disagreed, obviously, and she is now a victim, once again, of someone else's bad choices. A dishonored parent of a bad seed child. Never mind the whole debacle over my choice to be married to a woman. That's a whole other disappointment, and the final straw that allowed her to justify cutting me off for good. My brother, who has always supported me, was in a way cut off because of his solidarity to me and our continued relationship which was appropriately unaffected by my choices.
So, my mother has known limitations, and I am able to clearly recognize those as an adult. I don't blame my previous inability to form emotional boundaries on her for being the way that she is. It provides me with a reasonable explanation to understand my emotional history, the types of behavior that I found acceptable in my life, in the friendships I formed early on in my life, in my first marriage, and am willing to take responsibility not only for my path towards those things, but also the path I chose away from those things later on.
Right now, I am living my life in the healthiest possible way, which does not include her influence. Instead of adopting a learned victim mindset, I acknowledge that I do not personally wish to live this way, and have broken that cycle in my family. I believe that my brother has been able to do the same with the help of his loving wife and her family. From the day that I decided once and for all that the choices I made were my own, despite what my mother might think of them, I have lived freely on my own terms. And my heart is bigger and fuller than it has ever been before.