May 14, 2008

My Daughter and Myself

I love this painting. 

To me, it represents the mother-daughter dyad on a journey towards destinations unknown. My daughter and I hope to end up in a lovely place, but one thing about it, we can get ourselves out of any mess a maN puts in front of us. 

So bring it on. We're unafraid. Not much can separate us now...well, other than the fact that I like to read aloud and she refuses to listen.

Guess that's what I get for being her mother and not her peer. Which is the main point I'd like to make on this message: Mothers must always be Mothers which means acceptance of our responsibility to parent our children, not the reverse. If we need a friend, we can find a friend; but we can never turn our children into peers without reneging on our commitment to healthy mothering.

It isn't easy to enforce boundaries when we really like our daughter. We might even admire her and want to be like her when we grow up. Hopefully, she feels the same way, though I doubt daughters of mothers who partnered with narcissists are keen on the idea of being just like their mothers.

If there's anything I hope my daughter has learned from me, it's this: You are a human being first and foremost and you do NOT have to teach your oppressor shit.

Yes. I try to be a prim and proper mother above reproach and certainly above swearing but good grief it's agonizing to witness the impact of a patriarchal system on a good woman's good daughter. I'd like to make a bigger difference in her freedom than I'm capable of making so guess I'll settle for my usual and say whatever I can do is good enough. And since I'm rather hard on myself, good enough will likely be more than good enough. I can trust myself on that point.

Imagine what it’s like for a daughter witnessing her parents battle back and forth for dominance? Hey, I could say the X and I were reciprocally empowering but the end of my story proves otherwise. No matter what precious illusions I'd like to write about, the fact is: he had the power and I didn't. Ouch! Though you won't hear any narcissist worth his diagnosis admitting to hurting other people. Not without justification, that is. Get used to being called The Abuser if you are dealing with someone who sees himself as your victim. Especially the victim of power-hungry females with the audacity to expect they deserve reciprocal respect and dignity.

I know the battle between the sexes has been raging for centuries, maybe since the Garden of Eden when Eve got blamed for Adam's disobedience. If it weren't for her, ol’ Adam would never have been cast into the lone and dreary world. Silly stuff we pass on to our children without thinking about the hidden messages we're teaching them. I suppose midlife is when many of us have the confidence to review our lives and deconstruct unquestioned truths about men, women and God’s Will.

With the benefit of hindsight and a heart-full of care, we can face our fears and mistakes with courage. I might not be so inclined to dig into the errors of misogyny were it not for two kids who needed their mother’s wisdom. I can offer them at least that much since there's nothing I can do to change the past. I might not have believed I could face my history, but the past few years have proven to me that people are capable of doing almost anything if they see the bigger picture and are willing to pay the price. In this case, the price is my PRIDE.

Fair trade. I'll sacrifice pride any day if it means helping my children value themselves as human beings, not possessions to be used like fodder in a maN's war against maNkind. It’s a crazy world out there and nothing is crazier than the topsy-turvy, upside-down reality of the inside-out narcissist.

There’s likely a lot to talk about when it comes to mothers and daughters and I hope the next few messages offer insight into how women can change the legacy of abuse and inspire their children with our courage. My daughter might not listen to me when I read, but her eyes are wide open watching what I do.

To sum up my message today, there are three key ways women can teach their children to overcome the terrible things happening to very good people: by our example, our example, and by our example.

"I don't know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes. It is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, "Well, if I'd known better I'd have done better." That's all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, "I'm Sorry." And then you say to yourself, "I'm sorry."

"If we hold onto the mistake, we can't see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can't see what we're capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one's own self. 

"I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you, when a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that's rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don't have that, we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach."
~Maya Angelou

Hugs all,

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