These words reverberate around my head like an accusation or perhaps recrimination or, some days, a plea for mercy. I don’t know how to do it better.
I don’t know how to fix my shit. I really wish I had the answers. I see the flaws in their light or darkness – all of them shine like neon lights. They remind me of a virus that flourishes and grows, in spite of the immunity or vitamins or treatments that you throw at them. Then when you think it is conquered, you realise that actually they have just mutated into something else.
Every now and then an “old” flaw rears its ugly head. One that you thought was behind you, but actually it is still there, hiding behind your carefully put together front and waggling its tongue, just as the photograph to place in your memory for time immemorial is taken.
I have been reminded of that repeatedly the last six or so weeks. I have seen so much of what I thought was behind me cropping up in different forms. I am disheartened. Clearly, I don’t know how to do it differently.
I don’t know how to be the person that other people see. I don’t feel kind or compassionate – I yelled at my child last night for an accident and then yelled at him again today for lying to me. But the yelling was disproportionate to the incident. I have apologised and explained why I was wrong, as best as I was able but I don’t know if he took it in nor do I know if it had any effect. I am sure the shouting had way more effect and damage.
The thing that makes me saddest is that I always swore I would not be my mother, but there I am. Showing up just like her. The short temper, the shouting, the rage that is unrelated to the incident, the lack of improvement, the unkindness and so on. I am her. I am her. The woman who was not a mother to me. The person I longed to have and did not. The woman we dubbed The Iron Lady, after Maggie Thatcher, because she was as hard as nails and showed no emotion that was not a manipulation.
And I don’t know how to do better. I spend so much time trying to work through my shit. I go to therapy (have I got an inefficient or sub-par therapist?), I read book after book (am I choosing the incorrect books?), I take medication (OMG – I hate all those pills and hate the dependence and hate the necessity and as for the side effects…), I go to yoga and I try to practise meditation (but no it is not Transcendental Meditation and so perhaps therein lies the problem), I try to practise self care (which just feels like I am being selfish with my time), I struggle to sleep in the day and so don’t nap and yet I have more time to be more useless it seems.
I don’t know how to be more kind to myself, which I hear repeatedly from friends. I am already kind by my “old” standards. I don’t know how to forgive myself for my transgressions and failings. I don’t know how to be better at being an adult or living life or being a parent or being an employer or simply being a friend.
I throw out random, stupid acts of what I perceive to be kindness, but are generally just monetary items. I don’t know how else to express it. I don’t know how to be loving without manipulation. I was never taught that. I just know how to spot it when I failed that test. Yet again. I don’t know how to break the cycle. I don’t know. I just don’t know.
I can sit and blame my mother or the man I chose to marry or any number of people in between. But ultimately it comes down to that fact that perhaps I just never really did cut the grade because being me is not enough. In fact, being me is perhaps a whole lot of too much.
I see the things I do out of a severely entrenched fear of being abandoned by people that I love – friends, family, relationships. All of these have been thrown under the scythe to the reaper by my acts. And I realised today that I may have reached the point that I am actively throwing people to the reaper to just circumnavigate the long process and the pain of them leaving. I leave them before they leave me. It is only the hardiest that cling on to survive the trauma of knowing me, or the ones who have no option, like my children. The ones I said that I would do better by, and yet, here I am. The clone of my mother.
It is so easy to sit in judgement and point fingers. That stick in someone else’s eye versus the log in your own. I get very used to just looking over the top of the log and pretending it is not there.
I am ashamed and embarassed by some of the things I have said and done in desperation. The things I have done to stop the exit, even a perceived exit, stun even me. The perpetrator. Stupid right? But there they are, in all their misfitted glory. And when I contemplate them, I feel like I am not worth being the dirt below the manure. In fact it would need to be something that provides no value whatsoever to human life as we know it. Because, after all, the dirt below the manure has great capacity to provide something fruitful to this life.
And I keep thinking, you get what you deserve. You have an abandonment complex because you were abandoned. You were abandoned because you were not important. You were not enough. Ever. And that was displayed to me over and over, through toddler years to childhood years to teenage years and so on. Even whilst there is a part of my brain that says this cannot be so, the other voices are so much louder that say it IS so, this is how it played out and this is how your marriage played out too. You were not enough. You will never be enough. People may think that you are, but they are only outsiders. They are only looking in. They don’t really know.
I think often about what value I can add to the lives of my children as this imperfect human. I have spent time reading up on blogs and research as to the effects of a mother who commits suicide and can see how that plays out for the kids, especially the girls. And even so, my brain still tells me that it is about handling it correctly. It is about the proper timing and explanations and letters and how you phrase it. It is about making sure that all responsibility is placed squarely on my shoulders and not on theirs. I have not worked out how to do that as yet. Maybe I won’t need to work it out. Maybe one day I will find the way to be better. But after 43 years and 23 days, (or so), I have not worked out how to be a better human. I just know how to pretend.
And above all, I am sorry. I am so so sorry for not knowing better. I just don’t know how to do it.