Toughening Up

One of my life lessons has to be toughening up. Even as a child I learned that I needed to be strong to survive. When my parents split up I made the conscious decision to focus on academics. I’m not sure if I was looking for approval or if I was merely diverting my attention away from the tumultuous emotions into a more fruitful occupation.

It paid off because I did well at school. I came forth in my class and was pleased with my ultimate results. My parents didn’t notice as they were so self-absorbed at the time with their own affairs. So if the strategy was one of approval, that failed dismally. The more likely alternative is that I learned that the emotional side was too painful so rather pursue something more fruitful.

ToughenUp

I became a perfectionist and have often told in my life that I’m too hard on myself. I have been given that look from people who are wondering if I’m as hard on my children as I am on myself. I always wanted to be above reproach and I think that stems from not getting approval as a child. I wanted to make sure that there was no opportunity for criticism.

I have often had the sense that I should have known better. I naively trust that people will do the right thing and that people are generally good. I give people the benefit of the doubt until they show me otherwise. But looking back on my life there are many occasions where I should have known better. I should have known that life in the family business would be fraught with problems. I should have known that my father only wanted the money I could earn, not to spend time with me. I kept wondering when we were going to have a breakfast or lunch together. But he was quite content to have me churning away, bringing in the money, at the expense of my health.

I kept expecting my mother to volunteer to help with the kids, particularly as I became ill. But the offers were thin and infrequent. I thought that she’d be dying to spend time with them when she retired. But it took some nagging on my part to get her to collect them from school. I’d have a crying child to console when she couldn’t or wouldn’t take the time. One time she even prioritised her dog over the kids and that was quite upsetting for me considering how much they love her. But, thinking about my childhood and knowing that she was not a good mother, why would I expect her to be a good grandmother?

I have made the mistake of thinking that people are like me. I think that my children are so beautiful and full of love and life that anyone would want to spend an afternoon with them. I think that being kind to others is part of one’s contribution to this world. I expected my parents to treat my children how I treat them. But they didn’t treat me like that so my expectations were flawed.

Be Kind

It’s a hard thing to accept that my life is a lot better with one parent excommunicated and another in a different city. But that’s the truth of it. My life is better now. I don’t have a dark cloud hanging over me, ready to judge or reject me. I have fewer people taking from me at this time where I need to replenish my resources. So that is a blessing and I’ll take it. Perhaps this is a time for me to benefit from the distance and to truly see what they ‘contributed’ to my path of learning. Perhaps I’ll even be grateful for it one day.

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Kathy
I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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