Ignorance is Far From Bliss

I didn’t know it at the time but Mother tried to keep me ignorant. Of the world. Of how my body would behave as I got older. How to take care of myself as a woman. Most kids are taught about sex and puberty when they reach a certain age.  I had to badger Her into letting me shave, and she flat out refused to teach me how to use a tampon. I realize that topic is not something a person would like to see right off the bat but this is something that has impacted ALL my relationships. I only brought up the topic with her at all because we were starting a section on puberty in Health Class. At this time I was starting to take more of an interest in myself, trying to learn what I could.

Her answer was to get me books from the local library and have me read them on my own. I can’t remember what the books were called though I do recall that they contained graphic illustrations. Truthfully, I never really even read those books. They didn’t interest me (looking back, I now know that the reason I wasn’t interested in those books is because of my sexuality, which is a topic for another time). Mother didn’t bring up the books again, just assumed that I read them.

It was around this time that she decided that since all I did with my hair was brush it or put it in a pony tail that I didn’t deserve to have long hair. So, after school she forced me to into a salon chair, tears streaming down my face as the stylist spent the next THREE HOURS cutting my long hair into a Dorothy Hamel because she couldn’t get it even. I was heart broken. I looked like a boy.

This cycle would repeat again and again. My hair growing out for a while, then her chopping it all off because “I couldn’t take care of it.” The biggest kicker was that she never taught me how to do anything with my hair. Hell, she barely let me trim my own nails, and I was 14 at the time. My older sisters didn’t take any notice of me, or interest in spending time with me. The Oldest had children of her own, and she spent time teaching them how to care for themselves and none of them could be bothered with me either.

Mother was controlling, she refused to let me have friends. Dressed me in thrift store finds to mimic her look as a 55+ woman. So, needless to say I didn’t exactly make many friends. Add that to her isolating me from a young age and you get a socially awkward adult.

Fun.

Sadly, the cycle of long and short hair has continued into adulthood. Now, when I am stressed beyond belief, I cut my hair. And I mean seriously cut my hair, down to less than two-inches when it was nearly below my bra strap. It gives me a sense of control when I don’t have any everywhere else. As I am typing this I realize why, even though I had a fear of salons for a while and hated getting my hair cut because I viewed it as a punishment, I will still willingly cut my hair now because it IS something I control. Talk about mucked up.

I should note here that not all of my entries are going to flow from one topic to another, my thoughts ramble and bounce. I hope you can keep up with me.

At this point I am going to say that I lost my virginity at 21 years old, I graduated high school a virgin. I had relationships once I moved out of Mother’s and into Dad’s. Dad wasn’t a perfect parent but he let me learn and grow. Anyway…

Everything I know about sex I learned from fanfiction online. No, I am not overselling it. I didn’t have anyone else to teach me. None of my ‘friends’ would talk to me about serious things, or invite me over, and quite frankly, it would have been incredibly awkward to talk about sex with Dad. Fathers and Daughters just don’t talk about sex. That is a relationship saved for the maternal figure, not the paternal one.

I lack the ability to transition at the moment…It is late, forgive me. The reason I brought all this up is because once I met W’s family, everything changed. I grew up with the Addams Family, he grew up with The Brady Bunch. My Mother-In-Law claimed me as her own, saw my weaknesses and never once made me feel bad for asking for the chance to learn. She has taught me how to French Braid and shown me what a good mother is supposed to treat her children.

She is one of the women who guides me as I try to become a better woman. A better mother for my two girls. I want my girls to be able to do their hair, do their friends hair. Know how to shave, the proper way to wash their face, how to take care of themselves when they become women. I do not want to leave them in the dark. I want to be able to talk to my girls about anything, for them to know that I will listen and want them to be smart.

G and M are not going to grow up wondering how to use certain things, or dress like a women in their 60’s. Take pride in themselves and know that their mommy isn’t going to humiliate them because of her own lack of confidence. I know that my confidence is going to wax and wane, my only goal is to be comfortable with myself. I do not want to be jealous of my own daughters. I do not want to sabotage them because I feel threatened.

I love my girls. And I will not be her.

She Was Sick

A year before we conceived our first child, G, I got a phone call telling me that Mother was sick. I hadn’t spoken to her in a year or so, and my gut told me that I needed to get back home. We made the 13 hour trip and arrived in time to find out that she had cancer. We spent five days with her, talking. It was during that time that she told me, “I don’t have a reason to fight this time.” I was floored. She was talking about while she was pregnant with me at 45 years old, and diagnosed with cancer the first time. My husband, W, and I decided that we wanted to start our family and I told her that. Something to give her hope. A reason to fight.  We went home and dealt with the possibility that she would be gone soon. A month later she was gone, aggressive lung and kidney cancer moved quickly. I was broken, I should have been crying more but I wasn’t. I couldn’t believe that she was gone.

I didn’t go to say goodbye. W didn’t like the idea of me traveling while I was grieving and I agreed with him since he wouldn’t have been able to go with me. I should have gone and reasons that are another entry entirely.

We became pregnant that November and I was okay at first. Then the worry started, that I was going to be like my Mother. A harsh, overbearing, woman who played favorites. I didn’t want my daughter to feel like I felt growing up. It worried me until I gave birth to my beautiful little girl with inch long strawberry blonde hair. She was amazing, and I was going to do right by her. So, I began therapy.

The more I dug, the more it hurt, and the more I wanted to just bury my head in the sand and pretend that none of it was real. That I was remembering wrong, that maybe things weren’t so bad for me. After all, that’s what my family told me when I tried talking to them. They knew Her longer than I did. I was just a child. Maybe I deserved to be treated that way. I wasn’t enough, wasn’t special, I wasn’t important to her. So many memories came crashing down on me; attacks that I knew were not justified, and conflicting images of happy times.

I fought with myself for a while before I finally got in touch with Dad, he was a good man, strong and kept me safe the best that he could. I learned about things that she did that I wasn’t aware of, things that I didn’t know she had done. I hated her for everything she put me through. I resented her for giving up when she had the chance to finally, finally, be there for me when it mattered the most. And she was gone.

I stopped going to therapy and that wasn’t the right decision but at that moment I couldn’t face continuing. For a while, I was okay. And then we got pregnant again, our little coincidence.

I crumbled in the third trimester, I didn’t want to take care of my two-year old, G, I wanted to leave her in the crib all day and not even look at her. I didn’t want to take care of myself either. I got help. I talked to my Midwife and got the help I had been missing for 11 years. I found out what was wrong with Her, Borderline Personality Disorder. A serious mental illness that sadly most of the mental health community don’t know how to treat or even diagnose. I began reading everything I could find on BPD and it tore me apart. So much of it was the same. I had a name for it.

It wasn’t me. It was Her. She was sick.

I am still healing. Still recovering. Still dealing with some monstrous self-images that W and I are fighting to change.

This cycle ends here. With me and my girls. I won’t be perfect, but I will love them. And hopefully, they won’t need therapy when they get older.