Do you remember the first time you felt embarrassed or ashamed? Think back. Try to remember. Did you trip and fall walking to class? Misspelled “execution” during your 5th grade spelling bee?
(Still not over it. That trophy was supposed to be MINE!)
I remember my first time. I was about 8 or 9, I believe. I couldn’t have been any older than 10. I had gotten in trouble that day. I can’t recall what I did, honestly. I either got into trouble at school for talking too much or I broke something in my house. All I remember is my mother telling me that I was in trouble and when she gets home “that was going to be my ass”. Of course, my anxiety was on HIGH-fucking-alert! I remember doing my chores and waiting for hours for that faint sound of giggling, which usually meant mom was home and “comfortable” [see: tipsy]. Finally, after biting my nails into oblivion, I finally heard my mother’s keys in the door. I sat on the floor pretending to do my homework. It always amazed me how we try to pretended to be angels after getting in trouble, as if the current act of good behavior would divert that ass whooping.
My mother walked in, said “Hey”, and continued with her nightly routine. She entered the room I was in, complained about a cup being in the sink, stripped her clothes off, and took a bath. Once settled, she lit her cigarette on the kitchen stove, grabbed her Vodka off the counter and proceeded to grab the cordless phone to call her girlfriend for gossip for the remainder of the night. Once the kiki’ing commenced, and she became occupied for an hour or so, I thought I was home free. Shit, I also started to wine down for the night. I figured she had forgotten about the scolding she owed me or simply didn’t have the energy once she got home.
But then she called my name……..
I walked into her room. My mother was lying in bed, on her side. Allegedly, she slept better on her side. She immediately began scolding me for the offence I made. I remember begging her not to beat me. It was late, and a bitch was tired! I honestly just wanted to go to sleep.
I was stressed from just anticipating this ass-whooping all day. But child, If I knew what was coming next I would have just took the ass-whooping instead.
“Take off your clothes”, she grunted. Crying and confused, I proceeded to pull down my sweats and remove my family reunion t-shirt. I can still physiologically recall, between hysterical hiccups, my desperate plea for her not to beat me. I couldn’t imagine the feeling of that cold ass leather belt on my skin. I implored her, scared and naked, to not beat me for a good 45 seconds. She looked at me and said, “You disgust me. Get out of my room!”
I briskly put back on my sweats, grabbed my t-shirt off the floor and rushed to my room. At that moment, I thought, “Whew! At least she didn’t beat me”. But then it hit me. Like Mack Truck hit me: “Am I disgusting?”.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my first encounter with ‘embarrassment’.
My mother was an alcoholic. She was emotionally abusive towards me most of my life. As an adult, I can understand that her mistreatment wasn’t necessarily about me. She was in pain and displacing her own shit. Despite my current and mature assessment, when you are roughly 8-years-old, that rationale doesn’t align so neatly. You assume it’s you because, of course, why would your mother express these things if they weren’t truthful. Although I know better, I still find it hard to erase those feelings after bearing them for 15+ years. I find that with every interaction, friendship, and/or relationship, I have operated as if the other person was my mother. I have tried my hardest to please and make them happy because I wanted to make my mother happy. I wanted to prove that I wasn’t disgusting or worthless as that’s how I was made to feel as a child. The issue with that is when interactions don’t play out well or friendships end/relationships go sour, those exact feelings of my childhood arise.
“Maybe if I wasn’t repulsive this would have worked out.”
“Maybe if I would have done _____, they would have seen how much I cared.”
I’ve accomplished a lot in life and I still struggle with feeling worthy. I give so much of myself. I pour into others unconditionally. I give and give and give; subconsciously hoping to receive the validation I’ve always wanted from my mother. I’ve noticed that my 8-year-old feelings resurface in romantic relationships.
One day I sat with myself, (I talk to myself often. Keeps me sane lol) and I asked myself, “What is it that you are wanting from [insert any nigga from my past. They are all interchangeable].” The answer was the same for all of them:
I wanted them to love me.
I wanted them to want me.
I wanted them to tell me that I was ‘enough’.
I wanted them to tell me I was special.
I wanted them to make me feel how my mother never made me feel.
I wanted to matter.
My mother died on May 21, 2018. That day, I faced the reality that I will never have the chance to sit with her and have an Iyanla session. We will never be able to have an inter-healing moment with each other. We will never be able to mend our broken relationship. We will never have the chance to apologize and forgive one another. We will never get another shot at having the healthy mother-daughter relationship I’ve always wanted.
So now every day I must forgive her on my own. I must try to mend my own brokenness while also trying to forgive my deceased mother for actions, I’m confident, she wouldn’t have extended if she was able to heal from her own demons. Everyday, I strive to maintain awareness of what I’m allowing to occur in my personal relationships and ensure to decipher if it’s me truly enjoying the interaction or if I’m seeking validation to fill a 15+ year old void. Every day, for my own healing and to give my unborn daughter what I wish I had, I strive to overcome all the fucked-up idiosyncrasies my true love, my mother, unknowingly bestowed upon me.
I wish I had a beautiful philosophical statement to place here to show you that everything is currently great. I wish I could tell you I’m all healed and happy; but that would be a big ass lie. Every day is a mystery. Every day is a challenge. Being self-aware is only half the battle. The other half is consistently doing the work. Although, I struggle with identifying my worthiness, I now know that it is not because I am unworthy. Coming to understand that still is hard. Much like life, healing from any kind of trauma is a long journey. Some days will be bright and positive and other days will be heavy and unbearable. I like to believe the Tug-O-War experiences are a part of the process. I cannot say it’s been a walk in the park but sitting with yourself, doing the work, going to therapy and having self-compassion will help introduce you to the person you WANT to be instead of the person you’ve been told you are.