Lately, for some reason, I have been hearing my mother’s voice in my head. Not in any kind of nice, warm, fuzzy, squishy kind of way. I have been hearing the criticisms that she’s hurled at me through the years.
I was putting on face cream last night and noticed my eyebrows. Instantly I heard, “Wow, you really need to pluck your eyebrows!” It’s like I was transported back to the time in high school when my mother made that comment.
I felt like I was back in middle school the other day. All of a sudden I had a flash in my mind. I could see myself standing in the hallway of the townhouse we stayed in when I was in second through eighth grade. I was modeling a new pair of shorts for my mother. She asked me why I was standing funny, then commented that it must be because the shorts were too tight.
I remember being told in my freshman year of high school that when new clothes needed to be purchased, they would NOT be purchased in a larger size. I received lots of comments from my mother about my weight and what clothes I shouldn’t wear because of it. While in middle school, she pointed out that I should never wear skirts above my knees. They were too chubby to show. Anytime I wore a shirt that wasn’t as loose as a muumuu, I got raised eyebrows from her. She was constantly telling me in different ways that I was too heavy. All the while buying pizza for just the two of us to share in the middle of the night and keeping the house stocked with junk food. Making sure I stayed overweight so she had something to pick on me about.
Not that she needed anything else. She had no qualms picking on me and slicing me up about all kinds of things. The way I cleaned my clothes. The people I spent my time with. The movies or television shows I watched. My personal beliefs about God. The state of my finger nails. The shoes I wore. My grades in school. How I wore my hair.
Speaking of my hair…As a child and up until late high school I had no idea what to do with my hair. It is impossibly thick and curly. I can’t even run my fingers through it. The slightest bit of humidity would make the curls change to waves, and it would frizz up five times its normal size. Even though I always thought it was a mess, I got lots of compliments on it. When I was in late elementary school or early middle school, my mother told me that one of my grandmothers didn’t like my hair. Why did she do that? Let’s tick off the reasons, shall we?
1) My hair was the one thing I was regularly complimented on. She wanted me to know it wasn’t all that pretty or special, and neither was I.
2) She heard something that would hurt my feelings, and wanted to make sure that I knew about it, too. Another way to drag me down.
3) She wanted to put a rift between my grandmother and myself. This was, I later found out, my father’s mother. My mother never liked her, and let me know that my father’s parents didn’t like her, either.
She succeeded in putting a rift between my grandmother and I. I always had hard feelings towards my grandmother after that. I knew she didn’t like something about me, making me wonder if she even liked ME. From then on I watched my grandmother through suspicious and skeptical eyes. Everything she did and said, I took in a negative way. I was convinced after that that I was her least favorite grandchild, and that she probably didn’t even like me.
Starting at an early age, I received constant criticism from the person that was supposed to love me the most. It’s no wonder that now, as an adult, my self-esteem and self-worth would barely register on anyone’s scale. It’s no wonder I think everything I say and do is completely stupid. It’s no wonder I always think people are saying negative things about me, even when they aren’t. I learned very young to take things as negatively as possible. I have made the mistake of thinking someone was being nice and paying me a compliment, only to find out that they were being nasty and sarcastic. That’s a really shitty feeling. That’s why I can’t see any positive in what people say to me. That’s why I focus on the negative. I can’t allow myself to be devastated like that again.
The criticism didn’t end when I grew older, or even when I got married. When I got married, I just gave my mother MORE things to find wrong with me. The way I cleaned my house. What beauty products I used. Where I worked. Where my husband worked. The way I treated my husband. The food I cooked. The household products I used. What I watched on TV. What I wore. How I drove. The stores I shopped at… I’m sure everyone’s getting bored. You get the gist. The list could go on and on and on. That’s why Jay and I eventually moved to Arkansas, over 1,000 miles away from my birth family. That, and the fact that my mother was constantly trying to break up my marriage. By the time Jay and I left Virginia, we had been married for almost 6 ½ years. She was still trying to come between us, even after us being married for all those years.
Sigh…ok, enough of that. I haven’t had many negative thoughts since I decided to end contact with my birth family, and I don’t intend to let the negative thoughts ruin my day. I feel better after getting all this out of my brain. Now I don’t have to ruminate on it and be brought down by it. I refuse to be further destroyed by negative people. I have been trying to build positive experiences into my day to increase my positive emotions. I have no room for negative emotions and thoughts inserted into my head by other people. I do enough of that on my own.