…the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect.
“Our dignity is the one self-concept we humans dread losing and will try to maintain at all costs.”
This is an awesome quote that really stood out to me in my pedagogy class tonight. This is exactly why the relationship with my mom is so strained. I feel that she takes my dignity away all the time. I had the guts to tell her how I feel about her a couple of weeks ago. I usually just sit there while she lectures me and tells me how I do everything wrong, how I push everyone away, how I’m self-destructive, and how the whole family agrees with her about me. I finally told her that she never tells me that she is proud of me. You know what she said to me? “Well, you haven’t done much to be proud of lately.” Wow. So all of my accomplishments in dance, community service, being the first of my family to get a college degree, my current pageant title, and finally deciding to be a teacher are nothing to be proud of… apparently not.
It’s a good thing I have been learning how to separate myself from her the past few years. I have been learning how to validate myself without her support, which is hard to do while living with her. I stay away from home a lot and stay very busy. Maybe that’s why I decided so late in life to try doing a pageant. Maybe I subconsciously needed the validation that I could do and be something greater than myself. I have made so many good friends who build me up and keep me thinking positively about myself. That, to me, is a very good thing.
I was talking to my sister today and telling her how it feels to be looked so down upon by my family. It’s like they see me as this little child who is incapable of making any good choices and I have to be guided along with someone holding my hand every step of the way. They do not trust me to make decisions that are best for me. They try to run my life and then get angry when I don’t do things their way. I feel so alienated and misunderstood by my family, and they don’t care. If I ever tell my mom how I feel, I end up being the selfish one who has pushed everyone away. What about taking me seriously for once? Aren’t my feelings valid at some point? I can’t be that crazy! Maybe my mom has painted this picture of me to my family that is not true. Maybe her perception of me is really just that: hers!
I said to my sister, “it really sucks not being trusted by your own family,” and she just told me that I don’t make good decisions. I said, “well that’s your opinion.” I dated one really bad person for a year, and that ended about a year ago. So, because I got so stuck in that relationship, they think I’m self-destructive. My sister really thinks that if they had not been so vocal about my horrible choices in that relationship, that I would have destroyed my life by staying with him. What she doesn’t realize is that I completely tuned them out after a while and made the choice to get out of the relationship myself. I MADE THAT DECISION! THEY DID NOT BREAK UP WITH HIM FOR ME! I’m the one that had to make those decisions, because I’m the one that had to live with them. I had to say goodbye to someone I loved dearly, not them!
That period of my life was absolute hell, because everyone in my life was against me. I had absolutely NO support. I was madly in love with the wrong person, and instead of my family helping me through it, I was pinned against the wall for it. I was lectured and told that I was stupid. I’m sure it is scary to see someone you care about in a bad relationship, but I needed support, not added stress. I needed for my parents to trust me to make the right decision for me. What I needed was for someone to say, “I understand you and what you are going through and that you will make the right choice in the end.” I was dating the wrong person AND my family was angry with me. I knew I wouldn’t stay with him, but I didn’t know how to get out. I was very suicidal and felt completely alone. I did have one friend who was very understanding, and she is probably the sole reason I did not end my life. Well that, and I knew my family would be devastated. I didn’t want to prove them right about me being so incredibly selfish. My friend helped me see light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s just what I needed.
I may have made some very different decisions after that relationship than I would have before it, but I came out of that relationship a completely different person than I was before it. I had sex for the first time, started to see my mom as not being right all the time, embarked on a very difficult spiritual journey, began to see sex in a more mature and healthy light, and I discovered my own sense of morality that was my own, not one that someone told me to have. I slept with someone I was not in a relationship with and learned from that how I didn’t want to do that again. I slept with someone who I was in a relationship with but wasn’t in love with, and I learned that I didn’t want that either. Then I learned what making love is, and that’s what I want, but I need to spend more time cultivating a relationship before going there. I need to make sure that he is going to be around for the long haul and not give up because he’s scared of commitment. It takes time to really get to know someone and truly love them. I knew all of this, but I really learned it.
I completely understand the concept of how your actions affect everyone around you, especially your family. I know that if I got pregnant, it would not be a good thing right now. BUT, they also have to trust me to be smart about that. They did raise me very well. I’m not stupid, and waiting until you’re 27 to have sex is quite remarkable. How about being proud of that?! Oh, but it’s okay for the little sister to do it, just not me, because I’m retarded. I try to tell myself that they are just harder on me because they expect greater things of me. It gets harder and harder to believe that, especially when you are told you are stupid… I have tried so hard not to be a burden on my parents. That’s probably one reason why I haven’t moved out yet, because I’m so afraid to fail and have to move back home or ask them to bail me out. I never ask them for anything. NEVER.
I am very happy that I waited until my late 20s to have sex, because I feel that I am emotionally mature enough to handle it. I waited until I was in love, so I cannot regret that. It is not the emotionally scarring thing that I was told it would be if you do it with the wrong person. I truly do not have regrets about those experiences because I really learned from them. I think regret comes from not understanding the lesson you are supposed to learn and not being able to forgive yourself for making a mistake. Mistakes are opportunities to grow. They are not red marks on your research paper. I actually did feel regret for a while about sleeping with my last boyfriend, because I was so in love with him. I think that’s because I was mad at myself for knowing better than to move so fast. I did know better, but what I learned from that was what the voice of my gut sounds like. I learned so well that my gut feelings are spot on and that I should NEVER ignore them. I knew it was too fast when he told me he loved me. I knew he didn’t know me well enough to say it, but I ignored that feeling and went with it, because I wanted him to be the last person I would ever have to date, and I wanted him to feel validated in being so open with me. I have ignored those gut feelings a lot in my life in order to make others happy, including my mom.
My mom has been a terrific mom. She has taught me so many things and shared so much of her wisdom with me. She really is one of the strongest people I know considering how terrible her life was up until about 15 years ago. However, she has not allowed me to learn from experience, which is how I learn best. She hates that I learn best from experience. It’s so ironic that she is the one who taught me how you can’t raise each of your children exactly the same way, because their personalities demand different parenting methods. I was always so angry growing up that my youngest sister was treated so differently and got away with so much, but I understand why now. What my mom needs to see is that she doesn’t really believe that. If she did, she might not be so hard on me.
I feel that I have learned so much from my mom’s wisdom, and I stayed out of so much trouble compared to my peers in school because of that. However, there is only so much you can learn by just listening to someone’s advice and warnings. You know, learning from experience may be the hardest way to learn life lessons, but that’s who I am, and that’s okay.