What I Didn’t Learn From My Parents … or Did I?

From my parents, I didn’t learn how to have or be a friend.

I didn’t learn to trust people.

I didn’t learn how to stick with a person, even if they are unpleasant or difficult, or to work at a relationship even if it is imperfect.

I learned how to be alone.

I learned how to mistrust.

I learned how to fear and to look for rejection.

I learned how to use people to get what I needed and wanted.

I learned how to break promises.  I learned to lie, mostly to myself.

I learned to be afraid, to find comfort in being alone, to be anxious, and to be unpredictable.

I learned to look strong, while I covered my fears with work, or illness, or alcohol, or sarcasm, or wit, or intelligence, or knowledge and arrogance, or competence, or whatever was near that made it go away, for a time.

I didn’t learn how to need, to depend on others, to be open, to give and take.  Me, me, me!  Always, what mattered was how everything impacts me!

I learned how to take from and use people — I didn’t think I had anything to give back.

Isolation equaled strength somehow in my parents.  Fear people, because they will let you down, hurt you, disappoint you, or even need you too much.

I didn’t learn from my parents and what I did, I am trying to unlearn.

Written 7/11,  Sunday, 2009

Tuesday, July 13

Ah, the wretchedness of focusing on yourself and your internal distress and grief.  Upon further thought I am truly ashamed.  How self-centered these thoughts are and how sorry I feel for myself at times.  Yes, all that happened but I also know, without a doubt, that what I learned and didn’t from my parents has made me the person I am today.

If anything, in the midst of my selfishness of thought, I am assured that I am not them.  I am my own person.  And although I am disgusted and ashamed of my parents’ behavior (and my own) at times,  it came from their own pain and disappointment with their parents.  My parents did not feel loved by their families, not a little, not a lot,seemingly not at all.  And although intellectually I know I was loved, it always came with a sense of conditions, whether spoken or not, that I could not live up to.  Not a little.  Not a lot.  Not at all.

I have made many, many mistakes already in my life.  My addiction to work at one point in my life, and even my giving in to an addiction to alcohol, and came from lineage of broken people.  Strength in the broken places was a mantra my father lived and I think he believedbut somehow he never changed; he never put a stop to passing on his pain, fear, isolation, and disappointments.

If I have any strength it comes from naming the sin of my selfishness.  To continue on hurting others, or even blaming, would be the ultimate lapse of character and so I take my weaknesses, my awareness of what I did not learn, and what I did and reach out.  For out of my fear, distrust and isolation come a raging and inconsolable need for Place.  For Belonging.  For a sense of Home, if you will, that I never knew as a child but crave as an adult. As I reach and extend my heart to others, I am trusting that we will each be strengthened by the risk-taking.

If it feels like jumping off a cliff, the terror unimaginably vivid, I am even more resolved! As I get outside of my doubts and fears, I can do something else with my life!  Sometimes that is as simple as answering the phone, returning a phone call or email, replying lovingly to an inquiry and a revealing a little more of myself, or more importantly caring enough to ask questions of others.

Isolation only brings what I seem to always be looking for, which is ‘proof’ of others’ betrayal.  I want others to reach toward me!  What I am learning is to get outside of myself, to consider others before myself.  Oh,I don’t do it perfectly, or even regularly, or even often enough; for the impulse to close in on myself is almost as natural as breathing.  And yet although I breathe, that is not being alive.  That is death in itself, to live hour-by-hour for myself and my own needs.  It is to others that I am called or else this life in not worthwhile, not a life worth living. And I do want to live fully, as complete and whole as I can be.

In the end, this isn’t about my parents.

It ends with my parents and begins with,

jumping off the cliff,

today.  Life in free fall is scary, but pretty great!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow…very interesting..I truly enjoy this poem…

    Like

  2. Meg E says:

    You always touch me Melody. Really. Deeply. Thank you for sharing your pain and your triumph with us today.

    Like

Thanks so much for reading and sharing.

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