Repeating the mistakes of our past

Photograph by Tracey Rediker RedLincArt

For years I said I was better off than my mom. She really suffered, I have it together. I am not sure that this is true or if i was just trying to convince myself of it.

I come from a line of emotionally challenging upbringing. My mother was raised by a narcissist. My grandmother was left to live with her grandmother when her mother remarried. Anyone who knows anything about how families pass down the scars of abuse and neglect would see it would be inevitable for me to inherit some of this history.

The flip side is that I knew and loved each of these women. It was hard as a person who feels alone and disconnected the vast majority of the time. I mean, well, they are my family, but there are many members of my family that I have absolutely no feelings for. And I am talking close relatives who I have known all my life and have never done anything to hurt me.

My relationship with my mom was complicated, as many people can relate. She and I had tons of interests in common and loved to just hang out together. We would also have a huge blow-out fight every time we were together so my memories of joy always include pain. I was encouraged to have an opinion, then berated for disagreeing. She was my best friend and my worst enemy.

My mother and my grandmother had a similar relationship, though my mom would have killed me for even thinking that. In my youth, they talked on the phone all the time. We spent every holiday at their home and lots of weekends as well. The two of them would talk in the kitchen over coffee while I played at my grandfather’s feet in the den as he napped on the Lazyboy. I know that my grandparents did not support my mom when she divorced my dad, which I am sure made her feel very alone. I also know that my mom never took into account how traumatised my grandmother was by her own parent’s divorce and her fear for my well-being.

There are so many good things I can give my daughter from these women. They were all very smart and accomplished. They were all caring. They were all survivors. And they were all beautiful. I am not sure any of them saw these attributes within themselves, I know I don’t. And that is the number one thing I want for her, to have the ability to see herself for who she really is not who I tell her she should be, or who society tells her to be. You know, Feminism.

I know I will not be able to completely break the chains, but I am going to try for the good of myself and my daughter. Oh, and my son. Yeah, I have one of those too.

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