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My Mother; Myself

How to avoid the same pitfalls of a dysfunctional parent

relaxing for my piece of mind on the beach

My hands wrapped around my little girls arms tight as I was about to scream in her face and spank her hard for something she had done wrong. And then I looked in her big brown defiant but scared eyes and I saw my face as a child. I felt the burning sensation rising up in my cheeks through my whole body and I remembered being back as a child with my own mother. She would beat me for the smallest to the biggest things. I spilled milk. I got hit. I forgot to dust my dresser in my room. She dumped all my clothes out of the dresser and then I got hit. She had no empathy.

You see, my mother had mental issues, so the everyday things that most moms just dealt with made her lose her mind. She had two buttons; high and low. There was no calm in our house. One wrong move and all hell broke loose. I would say I “survived” those years.

When I became an adult, I learned more about my mother’s issues which included alcoholism. It was common for women back in the 50’s and 60’s to drink away any anxieties or mental instabilities because words like “bipolar” were not used. So I lived with my own anxiety; will I become my mother? Another family relative had been diagnosed with the disorder. I lived in fear. I read lots of self help books. I waited. Then that fateful day when I raged at my little girl came at me so fast, it was like second nature. But I stopped myself. I told my daughter “Mommy needs a time-out, go to your room.” She ran screaming down the hallway. I ran crying to my own room. I did a self check and discovered that I had reacted from what I knew. It wasn’t something I felt on a daily basis. And I could change my behavior because I really had a calm demeanor at heart. I apologized to my girl. And we found ways to have discipline that helped her become a well-adjusted adult.

I wish my mom had gotten the help she desperately needed. She never believed she needed it, so she never got the peace in her life that would have brought us all happiness. Sadly, she passed away in 2007 from dementia. I loved her until the end.

You don’t have to have the legacy that your parents set down  before you, especially if their legacy includes a dysfunction or illness. Get help if you need it. Change the way you want your future to look. Have grace on that parent that struggles, but remember you can create the family you deserve and desire.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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