When I became a mom, like most moms, I thought my job was to raise my kids. I became obsessed with being a great Mom. In truth, I became obsessed with making sure everyone saw me as a great mom – including my kids and my husband. Internally, I saw myself as a fuck up, failure, and fraud. I attempted to be a perfect mom, to hide my Imposter Syndrome.
In raising my children, I razed myself.
1. completely destroy
There are many relationships that can be described in those 7 words. The problem is, the wrong raise is used in the second half of the sentence. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is we can make another person happy. Our spouse, children, random person on the street, and so forth. We cannot make anyone but ourselves happy. As a parent, you care for and provide for your children, but we cannot make them happy any more than we can make them breathe.
I have proved this to myself every Christmas morning, or even every time I’ve devoted any amount of time cooking. For one, if I place an expectation, I’ve immediately placed a disappointment. No reality will ever align with what I’ve created in my mind. Since it doesn’t match, I will be disappointed as opposed to surprised. For another, my child (spouse, etc.) will choose what they do with my gift/meal/expression/words.
Happiness is a choice we each make for ourselves.
As every mom knows, your child’s likelihood of eating is inversely proportional to the amount of time you spent cooking. Chicken nuggets are the nectar of the gods versus your home cooked roasted chicken is “This again?”
That understanding did not exist years ago. The world itself rested on my shoulder. I had to make everyone happy (except myself, of course). I looked to everyone else to make me happy. No one was making me happy. There were happy moments and happy times, but it felt fleeting. I realize now they were moods and moments.
True happiness is a state of being.
It is a perspective and a constant choice.
In my desperate attempts to make everyone else happy, I ran myself ragged. I worked 50-80 hour weeks because I wanted to make enough money to buy a bigger house. When I wasn’t working, I was assuaging my working mom guilt by doing fun and exciting activities for the kids since I barely saw them. I don’t want to go into the play by play, but at the height (or bottom, I suppose), I was going to the gym for 1-2 hours, while actively bingeing and purging almost everything I ate. After my marriage disintegrated, when the kids were with their dad, much of the same commenced, except I’d add liquor/beer/sex to the fire. I was on a mission to destroy myself.
Then, one fateful day, I vomited at a bar when I was out to dinner with a friend. My hair had been falling out for a few weeks, but I was blaming it on everything but the truth. I saw blood in my vomit. I realized I was actively killing myself. For all the suicidality/intrusive thoughts/etc. that come with depression and the alphabet soup of my mind, there it was: I was killing myself. I couldn’t deny it any longer. The clock was ticking. I was going to leave my children motherless if I did not get my act together. Or, really, if I did not drop the act.
I was a fraud. I wasn’t happy. I was miserable. Not even my kids could make me happy. If anything, I was parenting them in fear of them becoming me. Talk about do as I say, not as I do. “Children, you can be and do anything you like, just for the love of god, don’t be me!” is what I would say without saying. Children learn by example, not words. Children are wise sponges. The day after I saw blood in my vomit, I offhandedly told my daughter we were going to grab food because I was hungry, and I saw relief on her face. Imposter Syndrome, indeed.
I projected my need and desire for happiness onto everyone because projection is what everyone does. All parents project their un-reconciled crap onto their kids. We can either raise or raze our kids, as well. If you are not a parent, don’t space out, because you can think of your inner child. You do not even have to have trauma: you could have the best childhood in history. We all have unreconciled crap projected on us. Life is the sum of happiness and trauma when you think about it. One second, you are happily chilling in the amniotic sac in your mother’s womb. The next, you are cold, screaming, and getting smacked by a doctor. Our minds conduct janitorial services and clean away memories of trauma, we forget, we repress, and we project.
Our parents had things they wanted to do and be, they had fears, etc. and all of that was projected on us as kids. You can see that nowadays in helicopter parents. Those parents are so afraid for their children, they don’t let their children be children. Inside all of us as adults, our inner children wait to be parented. My life as an imposter was really an inner child throwing one raging tantrum of repressed emotion, fear, and pain.
As children, we were much wiser in many ways then we are as adults. The world makes us forget simplicity. A kid is happy playing with a box, as many frustrated parents can laugh at the discarded flashy toy off to the side. A kid greets each day as a new adventure, forgetful of yesterday and tomorrow. A kid eagerly learns and takes in the world with curiosity and minimal fear. Adults teach the kids the fears and anxiety by example and projection.
None of this is typically intentional. If anything, most parents have the best of intentions! The exceptions would be childhood abuse, paedophilia, and horrible things like this which create traumas that no child should endure which create adults with pain that is indescribable. If the adult child has children, they tend to repeat the cycles of abuse, and this is a viciously complex issue. At the same time, in these cases, as with any psychological condition: you are often taught to re-parent your inner child. Other terms: Core wounds and core beliefs, Mother/Father Wound, Fixation…You begin to see patterns in relationship types: co-dependency, enabling, narcissistic, toxic, and so forth.
Unhappiness is the result of happiness sought outside of self.
Parents can have co-dependent and toxic relationships with their children. I have seen many mothers who have lost their identity to their children. They are only ___’s mom now. They have no interests outside their children. Their happiness is dependent on their child’s happiness and they believe they are the purveyors of that happiness. Unfortunately, when their children begin developing their own identity and independence, these possessed nouns are lost, because who are they? What do they do with their time?
As a possessed noun, I could not contend with my guilt over my co-dependent, toxic marriage ending, my guilt in turning my kids into “statistical broken home kids” and feeling like a complete and utter failure. Naturally, I drank away my sorrows and did everything I could to escape them. Then I saw I was dying, and I realized I better start living. I started writing, I started learning who I was. I started doing the things I loved doing when I was a kid – writing, collecting crystals, meditating, reading, listening to music, etc. I began finding a life outside of my children, and I saw the reality that my children were perfectly happy whether or not I was around. The sun still rose and set without me. It was magical.
I am all that I am. There is no more imposter because I look in the mirror and I love the woman who stares back at me. I peer out in this world no longer afraid of exposition. Fortunately, I razed myself and destroyed a life that was destroying me.
Occam’s razor (Razor, same root as Raze) keeps all of this rather tidy: the simplest solution is usually best. Why spend all this time hiding lies, when you can be authentic? Why spend all this time trying to make everyone else happy, when I can choose happiness? I can smile my real smile, and let my example teach my children. They can choose for themselves from there; same for anyone else who crosses my path.
Which raise do you use with yourself and others?
Thank you for reading, sharing, comments, likes, and follows!!! I’m having so much fun putting these concepts together, and I generally hope this is thought provoking 🙂 I’m on Facebook & Twitter – Social Media Links on my page…Still getting everything set up!!