As we grow up, we learn that fathers are the head of the family, the protectors, the over-protectors, and often times the short-tempered parent.
We also are told that mothers are soft-spoken, nurturing, patient, understanding, and usually the parent you go crying to when daddy gives you a hard consequence. So, when I was little, I was always a little confused. My parents had their roles reversed – my mother was quick to anger and my dad, although he was usually hiding at work, was always understanding. I remember once getting in trouble with my mom and being sent back to my room to wait for my father. However, when my dad came back to “punish” me, he just sat on my bed, asked me what happened and told me to pretend to cry- no spanking involved. That was my family’s dynamic.
My mom had such a harsh temper I used to strategize how I could avoid it.
It seemed like whenever she would get home my siblings and I had done something wrong. So I tried to join her whenever she left the house, so she would never be disappointed with me. My mother’s anger was fueled by her own fear and perfectionism. Fear of her temper caused me to strive for perfection as well. Some of you may be thinking, “That seems like a great pursuit,” but the truth is, it drove me crazy. Even when I was learning to read aloud I would refuse to continue reading if I made too many mistakes, I would shy away from any challenge I was not completely confident that I could excel at, and I would avoid conversation or even just speaking in general as much as possible. As I remember my childhood, these trends have always followed me. This skewed way of thinking affected every area of my life- in school, my relationships, my confidence, the way I would make decisions, and the list goes on. Even now as an adult, fear of failure and disapproval continues to challenge me.
I allowed it to become part of my nature- to doubt and disapprove of myself.
Every decision I made lurked with questions like, “Will they understand? Will they approve? Could this anger them? What if I fail? What will they think of me? Am I wrong?” And doubts like, “I am unworthy. I can’t possibly do that. They would be better. I am just being selfish. I am going to really screw this up. I am going to humiliate myself. I will fail.”
This constant battle with myself caused me to become a quitter.
The first sport I tried was soccer, I don’t remember that very well. But after I quit that, I tried gymnastics, then softball, then gymnastics again. I had always dreamed of being a gymnast, but as soon as I saw the other girls excelling faster then me, I quit. I never wanted to fail, so I saved myself the pain by giving up before I had the chance to. The next year I tried out for softball again. Before we even finished batting I begged my dad to take me home- I hadn’t hit one ball and I felt like I had let him down. Later that year my mom forced me to take a summer dance program, I had seen a few dance productions at Northwest Dance, but I didn’t think it was for me. I tried to quit after getting embarrassed halfway through the summer camp, but this time my parents didn’t let me. I have been dancing ever since. I love dancing, but if I had gotten my way, I would have stopped a long time ago.
My family is now closer than ever- and my mom and I have an awesome relationship!
I found that people really can change, if they don’t quit trying. While I have been working on myself, my mom was working on herself, and Dad was working on himself. We have all changed! I love my mom – I know she is my biggest fan. My parents love each other and things are lovelier than ever!
It is still hard to block out the negative thoughts and the harsh words that were spoken over me in my past, but I know my purpose now, and someone’s opinion of me and even my own failures can’t steal that.
I used to be filled with hate, self-doubt, and perfectionism.
Now, I am lovely.