Posted by: morrowsl | April 26, 2010

Rough Weather

It is spring in Texas and that usually means that anything not tied down should be since a storm can blow up without warning and the wind and rain can do major damage.  Tornado Alley.  What a place to live.

So far, things have been relatively calm.  The storms are out there, they just haven’t been close enough to my neighborhood to cause much concern.

Wish I could say as much for the emotional storms.

I think I’ve reached a turning point in my life where old habits need to be buried and new ones developed.  I’m turning inward more and more, looking at who I am and what makes me do certain things.  Things that affect others and therefore affect me as well.  I’m tired.  And I’m tired of being tired.  So, time to find new energy.

For close to fifty years I’ve allowed myself to live in the shadow of early learned behaviors with regard to emotional violence.  I have been very reactionary and defensive.  I’ve allowed myself to take on the anger as if it belongs to me and then I defend my right to be angry.

When that doesn’t work, I turn into the whipping post.  I take responsibility for whatever caused the emotional upheaval and allow myself to be beaten into submission.  I am the first to say “I’m sorry” and to try to extend the olive branch.  I try to bring peace by any means so that life can just go forward and the bad things are forgotten.  If that means accepting guilt that isn’t really mine, I’d do it.

I learned these behaviors at an early age as the fourth child in a five-child family.  My mother had one sibling, a brother, who took up all the space in any room he entered and left her shoved into the corner.  My father was one of ten siblings and knew how to elbow his way to the front of the line.  Their views of parenting couldn’t have been further apart.

I was not the best child behaviorally.  I wanted attention I wasn’t getting, so I did whatever it took to make my parents pay attention to me.  This usually resulted in my getting spanked or, later on, grounded.  The spankings I endured since I couldn’t run away.  But later on I did run and made a habit of being gone for days without any word of where I might be.  I’m sure that, while she was greatly relieved to be rid of me for the time, my mother worried that something bad would happen to me.

I grew to greatly dislike and sometimes hate my mother.  And I’m sure in her heart of hearts, she often felt the same toward me.

My skewed sense of not being loved enough by my mother sent me looking for replacement love wherever I could find it.  My dad seemed to have a greater capacity to love, or maybe he was just a lot more tolerant of misbehaving children.  But if one man could love me, then I felt another would as well, so I looked for attention and love in an early marriage to a man equally ill-equipped.  All he knew was attack, all I knew was defend, admit defeat and cower.  Thankfully, it was a short period of time and we both moved on.  But the scars took a long time to heal and have been easily re-opened.  I think one day I would like to have a conversation with this man and let him know I forgive him for the damage he helped me do to myself.  Maybe he will forgive me as well.

I think it is well past time for me to realize that any anger or mistrust or hatred felt by anyone other than me is well beyond my control.  I have to decide how to handle my own anger, my own mistrusts, my own hatred, and leave everyone else to their own devices.

This is pretty enlightening in that I will no longer shoulder the burdens of others and therefore will not allow others to dump their emotional baggage on me.  Not to mention I can finally come to terms with my inability to handle myself better in those early days.  I’ve been told that you have to decide if, at the time, you did the best you could do with what you knew, then no looking back with more advanced understanding can alter what happened, so you just put that instance to rest and get beyond it.

Years ago, I did this with my relationship with my mother.

I began to look at her own upbringing (alcoholic father and enabler mother) and realized that she’d only raised me using the tools she had and that the burdens of a large family were too much for her.  She ignored me because it was all she could do with me.  And then she belittled me because she’d been belittled by her parents and it was all she knew how to do.

I made peace with the young girl I was and the mother who raised me as best she could.  It has made my days with Mom so much sweeter.  I won’t have her forever, but at least when I lose her it will be without regrets.

So now, I have to find a way to do the same with my own children.  I’m sure there have been times when they hated me (maybe they do now) and there isn’t much I can do to alter their feelings since they will be based on whatever view they had or have of the situation or situations that caused their feelings toward me.  But I refuse to bear the weight of that emotion.  It isn’t mine.  And whether or not I deserved their hatred, they are entitled to it – I am not.  It belongs to them, not to me.

I am looking for calm on the horizon.  To find it, I’ll have to determine the best way to continue and I know that, for me at this point in my life, it will be to refuse to give in to old feelings of inadequacy and failure.  I have done the best I can with what I have.  If I didn’t do as good a job as someone feels I should have, that’s their problem.  Eventually it will be their turn and I’m fairly certain there will be someone who points out their flaws.  We are all flawed.

There are storms to come.  I have to figure out how to survive them without ending up in a tangled heap.  I’m starting by tossing out all the survival gear I have that is worn out and useless.


  1. I would give anything to be as wise as you, my friend. I’m glad to hear there’s new “survival gear” coming. You deserve it!


  2. I so get this and you know why because you witnessed most of it while I was growing up. I have learned to let go of things and have been better for it. As hard as this past year has been for me emotionally…I wouldn’t change a thing. I now have the bond with my father that I always longed for growing up. A REAL bond. One that doesn’t involve old hurt feelings. I know you and yours WILL get there. But your right…let’s stop the cycle!

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