Growth

Sunday night me and the girls went out for dinner and drinks. We chatted our way through the evening and with every word and breath refreshed our tired and weary souls. I always leave girls night with a renewed sense of self, and many thing to think about and ponder over the several weeks until we meet again.

This last meeting left me thinking about why I am the way I am. What makes me act a certain way, say certain things, or behave as I do. I dont want to analyze myself, but on a very basic shallow level, why am I like this…

In speaking with one of the gals, we realized that her hubby and I are very similar in our decisions and actions. I have thought and wondered if we had a similar upbringing, and if that was the cause of our personality similarities.

We both have a nagging desire to control our environments (the need to have everything put in its ‘place’, the inability to relax when things are out of place, anxiety when our environment is different or new), often times to our own discomfort and certainly to the discomfort of those who live in our circle. We both say things that we know arent the nicest things we could say…but we cant help ourselves. There just isnt an ability to filter. I dont know this gals hubby to well, so I dont want to project too many of my shortcomings onto him, but you get the idea.

Thinking back to my upbringing, I was able to identify several factors that may have influenced my personality as an adult. I am going to share them and hope for an unbiased, unconditional response.

The first is while I knew the unconditional love of my mother, our lives were often lived in flux. When I last counted I had moved over 65 times. Most occurring from the ages of 1-21. My mom has been married many times, and I have been exposed to many “Dad’s”. I went to 3 elementary school, one junior high and 3 high schools-all in the same town. I never felt unloved during this time, but I certainly felt a sense of instability. My Mom was magnetic though and she was always a stable force in our lives. So, while our lives wavered and our homes varied, and our father figures were many, we always had my Mom steadfast.

That is until my freshman year in high school. Which brings me to reason number 2. The summer before I started high school was probably the most pivotal summer of my life. Yes, I know that 14 is a tough time for all teenagers (and parent for that matter). But read on to see why. My Mom had recently divorced, which resulted in another move, this time to a townhouse in a lower income part of town. She had always been somewhat of a hippy and she did not hide her drug use. However, until this summer it was recreational and she was functional.

This was the summer where all things normal and sane went to hell in a hand basket. My Mom lost control of her use, and it turned into full blown addiction, sales and all things that are associated. The next few years ended with her serving a couple of years in prison, my sister(attempting) and I recovering from a coke addiction (just naming the main drug of addiction), and her pregnant at 14 years old. We both were left without a Mom, and without our beacon of strength.

During the time she was in prison, I was lucky enough to live with my Aunt and Uncle, and my sister went to live with her boyfriend and baby daddy. Anger, resentment, abandonment, hate, rebellion are just a few of the feelings I can still taste and remember from that time period. It was a hard pill to swallow, and still often is. The thought that my Mom chose drugs over her children is something I never will be able to forgive or get over (more on this later).

From these life lessons I learned how to be fiercely independent. I learned that the only person I can rely on is myself. I was conditioned to be wary of others, and skeptical. I learned how to be self-reliant, and yet not rely on anyone else. I learned how to care for myself and no one else. I spent a lot of time surviving and not very much time growing as a person. There just wasnt time for it.

When I met my hubby, all of that changed for me. I knew that we were meant for one another. I knew that I could trust him. I felt safe and at home. I was finally able to relax and let my guard down. I allowed myself to trust. He loved me and I grew. I was no longer in survival mode; I didnt need to guard my feelings. I could allow myself to open up, I was allowed to grow.

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The many names of my life

When I was born, my Mom and Dad were together. My Mom was never married to my Dad, but apparently she liked him enough to have 2 children with him (now I am sure you are going to wonder, as do I, how she could like my father enough to have 2 children with him, and not marry him given her propensity to marry). Since my parents were together when I was born, I took my fathers last name on my birth certificate. Well, my parents didn’t work things out I guess, because when I was 2 years old…he left. Never to be heard from again (details about this are being released in a future posting).

A few years later, my Mom, who was married twice before I was born, fell in love with an older man and married him. We then took his last name for a while. Well, that marriage didn’t last long and needless to say…it didn’t work out.

She really feel in love with her next husband. This time it was true love; I mean the kind that last forever. So, we again took our new “dad’s” last name. The marriage however, did not last. Now, all things considered-this last name was the name I kept the longest (while the marriage wasn’t too terribly long), and it was certainly the most pleasing of the 3 names to read and write. I kept this last name from the time I was in 6th grade until I was married 2 years ago.

When I got married, I changed my last name. And why not…I had no ties to the previous 3 last names I carried. I would say I am a feminist, however since my last name held no family bearing or emotional influence, I easily swapped it out for yet another last name (hopefully my last!). My Mom, married yet again and changed her last name yet another time (you might be wondering how the marriage is doing, given her serial marriage history…well, she is divorced).

My married last name means the most to me since it connotes a real sense of belonging, and allows me access to this exclusive group of wonderful folks (my husband and my in-laws). It also allows me to feel like I am part of something greater than myself. I am one of them, I am an accepted member of the family. It feels good, and permanent!