As a teen I yearned to hear you say, "You are wonderful!" Instead I heard you say, "You are bad!"
When I made a mistake, I yearned to hear you say, "It's alright, what did you learn from this?" Instead I heard you say, "You are nothing but trouble!"
When I failed, I yearned to hear you say, "I believe in you, you can succeed!" Instead I heard you say, "I told you so; you're just too stupid to listen!"
When I made a fool of myself, embarrassed and hurt you, I yearned to hear you say, "I love you anyway, it'll all work out, you'll see. We are here for you and we will get through this, together!" Instead I heard you say, "There you go again, ruining this family's good name. Why do we even try?"
When I ran away from home, I yearned to hear you say,"Finally, our trouble has left us." Instead I heard you say, "Why would you do this to us? Are you trying to hurt and humiliate us? What did we ever do to deserve your behavior?"
When I looked you in the eye and saw nothing but hatred, I yearned to die, because then I would hear you say, "You were wonderful, I believed in you, and I loved you." Instead I returned to your hom and endured two more years of mental, physical, and verbal abuse.
If you are reading this, you may wonder how my life turned out.
First, do not feel sorry for me. If it wasn't for her, my mother, and the experiences that I endured, I would not be the human being that I am. My mother was in and out of my life at her convenience. When she "happened" into my life, I made a decision in which I would consciously refuse to listen to my mothers' negativity.
I, thankfully, had a father that loved me unconditionally and told my sisters and me how wonderful we were and how he thanked God each and everyday for providing him with the miracles (his daughters) that graced his life daily. He prayed for us to have strength, compassion, love, humility, and life insight so that it would not matter how mean others were to us or the challenges that we would have to face. He knew that we would be equipped to stand strong on our own.
After high school, (yes I graduated) I went to college and slowly worked to educate myself so that I could stand on my own.
I succeeded! I am now a nurse. I've been married 13 years to a gentleman who tells me daily how wonderful I am and how proud he is of me. I have two sons and I pray the same prayer for them that my father prayed for me.
My sons and I have a strong relationship and they are praised, guided, and loved unconditionally. They will never know evil or harsh words from my mouth that would have the possibility of tearing their spirit apart or wounding their heart.
My mother, well, now she believes that I am the way I am because of how she raised me. She spends countless hours telling her friends how successful I am (as well as how wonderful and intelligent my children are: according to her, my sons are the children she dreamed of having all of those years but was never to have) but I have never heard any of those kind, proud words of praise or support out of her mouth.
After many years, I confronted her (for my personal healing) and I learned that she mentally could and would never be able to understand the gravity of her actions in regard to my life. And yet, at the same time I realized that it was up to me to make sure that my children and nieces/nephews would never endure the torture that she radiated through our entire body, mind and spirit.
My sisters and I keep our children very close when she is around and we have explained to them the effects of mental illness so that if she would ever say to them something mean, they will be equipped to understand and see past it.
I know now that my mother does love me and believes that I am wonderful but it is in her own way. It will never be the type of love that I share with my children or that I yearned for as a child, adolescent and as a young adult.
Looking back I realized and have come to understand that I had a choice as a teenager as well as a young adult to allow her to upset me or not.
As I have gotten older and wiser, I have learned that the greatest armor I had during that time (and I did not know that I possessed this at the time) was self-control. I learned to control my emotions so that she never knew what I was thinking. This was very hard, I never cried, laughed, smiled, grinned, etc ..I exhibited no emotion around her.
Her rejection was too great for me to handle. I chose to be me when she was not present. This way I did not have to fear rejection. This way, I felt safe.
I lived through my teen years accumulating many scars. Today, I remember each one as a stepping stone that has led me to greatness.
My definition of greatness: strength, humility, compassion, love, life insight coupled with the ability to choose and the wisdom to accept who you are: that is greatness! My father knew what tools I would need and he equipped me with all of them.
As an adult, I look back at my life and I am able to see the magnificent people in my life that have made me who I am. There are not many human beings who I have met who are truly great; I have had the honor of knowing only one. He is my DAD!
I thank my Dad daily. I hope that each and everyday, I grow more like him. I hope that I am as strong, as humble, as compassionate, as loving, and possess the insight into this life as well as the wisdom to know and accept my abilities and to appreciate all things as they are, not as I want them to be. I was not told that this is how to live but I was shown through example. This has been the greatest gift given to me.
Now as an adult, I know that it is not what type of house I have, what type of car I drive, how many staff I employ or how much money I make. It is the type of life you live and how you live it that matters.
I want to live my life with greatness! I do not want to be like the Smiths or the Jones's. I do not desire to have what they have. I would rather give my coat to someone who is homeless, right off my back, not because I have to but because they need it more than I did.
I want to stop and truly take in the roses, not just smell them but also truly take the time to admire all that there is and ponder why.
I want to watch my children grow into strong, loving, compassionate men who envelope humility and life insight and possess the wisdom to live well.
I want to grow old with my husband, watch as we both wrinkle, our skin dries and our hair thins, and sit, hand in hand, and remember all of the things that we did together and how fortunate we were to have had the opportunity to experience this life and all of the time we were given together.
I want to educate along my journey so that others learn how meaningful this life can be. We only need to take the time to make it so.
I want all human kind to know love.
I want all children to grow in acceptance of who they are.
I want all human beings to support each other and appreciate what each of us has to share with this world.
This world is wonderful because of us all . To think, that all of this, the thoughts, the understanding, the compassion and humility for humankind all grew out of a mothers inability to love.
We all have a place. Some individuals' purpose may be more difficult to see but we all have a place and we all serve a purpose.
What is your purpose? How will you live your life? Why?
Copyright © 2007 Rebekah White
I currently work in a drug recovery high school. Most of the teens experience at least one parent who was like my mother. I hope that by sharing my story and the lessons that I have learned, one person's life may be influenced in a positive way. Life is very difficult and many teens are left without direction or the tools to find their way.