I probably missed out on a lot of things in life because of this fear of what would happen if I broke a rule or got in trouble. Well not probably…I’m sure of it.Shitloads of teachers and adults and parents were shocked when I started dating Rambo…and then stayed dating Rambo. You can’t even begin to count the conversations adults had with me about how he was bad for me, a terrible influence and was going to end up nowhere in life.
Rambo did all kinds of bad things. He was the proverbial bad boy and I suppose it was part of why I was drawn to him. He did what he wanted when he wanted and damn the consequences even when he got caught. Which he did. Many times.But he didn’t care. He faced the consequences and went right back to it. For the simple joy of living. And because he damn well knew his parents loved him anyway. He knew that I did too.
I had no idea then but now I can see that that was a part of him I admired because I knew it could never be me.I didn’t drink or smoke. I didn’t stay out past curfew ever. I didn’t go places I shouldn’t with people I shouldn’t. I wasn’t promiscuous. I didn’t leave home for college. Didn’t spend money. Didn’t get in trouble. Never had a detention or a B- for that matter. I got every job I ever interviewed for. I never missed church. Blah blah blah.
I did every single thing my parents asked me to do and even if they didn’t ask. All they had to do was hint at it. I did it.The very few times I got in trouble were usually with Rambo and they weren’t pretty. The devastation of knowing my parents were mad or disappointed in me nearly killed me. I can vividly remember each of those times as they were so few and life altering for me.
I equated someone being mad at me with them no longer loving me. Being in trouble wasn’t just trouble to me…it meant they stopped loving me or loved me less or could never love me more. I never understood that anger is temporary and that it is separate from love.I get that now but as a young woman…I never knew that. So to be sure I would stay loved – I did right. 99% of the time. Again, not because I was good but because I was afraid. Kind of a shitty realization but it’s true.
Why am I thinking about this you ask? Well, my oldest kid got two detentions in one day last week.And I just realized something because she just texted me about a bad grade she got too.
She isn’t afraid. Of any part of it. Do you know what that means to me?
Everything. It means she isn’t me…back then. I don’t want that for her.She told me about the detentions. She’s actually pissed about them. Doesn’t believe they are valid. Voiced her opinion. Served them as a part of life that she can’t run from. Didn’t cry. Didn’t freak out except in anger…not fear. She wasn’t an asshole but she spoke her mind. She stood up for herself instead of nearly begging people to walk on her like I would have done.
She’s an all A student and today she texted me about a bad grade and again – she’s pissed. Not afraid to tell me. Or afraid of the consequences if there are any.My God. She knows that even if she tells us and we’re angry – that life will go on and we still love her. Grades don’t determine our love. Her actions don’t determine our pride. Detentions don’t change that she holds my heart.
My love is not dependent on anything else in this entire world. If I had known that or felt that…I’d be a totally different woman today. I still shove shit down rather than speak it – just so I don’t make anyone mad at me or disappointed in me. I still back down instead of standing up. I still think who I am and what I do or don’t do shapes how much or how little I am loved.If I’ve even been slightly successful in teaching my kids not to fear conflict or consequences or more importantly fear that our love is based on anything they do or don’t do…then I’ve done an amazing thing.
I’ve done in them what I could never do for myself back then. And even a little now.We love them…even if and when they are not perfect. And we never expected perfect anyway.
We separate the behaviors from the feelings.What a novel thought. As a near perfect child – even then – I felt invisible and unloved. When that happens you start to internalize and believe that if you can’t be loved for your perfect life and perfect actions…then there’s something wrong with you and who you are. There’s something unlovable about you – on the inside – because you made damn sure the outside was perfect.
No matter what you do or accomplish…it will never be enough. There will still never be love. You just keep reaching for the stars and live a life trying to upstage yourself and it never matters. So you realize you are flawed.And not worth it.
Strip away the perfection and under that - you are barely nothing. Keep the accomplishments and perfection and at least you have something to stand on. Right?When I was a little girl, my mind only knew of conditional love. Unconditional love was a fairy tale I spent my life searching for.
I hope to God my girls feel like they’ve found it already.So yah – my kid got two detentions in one day. And me?
Well, I’m damn proud. So proud I can’t even explain it.