Growing Into Me

Our society does not really have a rite of passage for the transition from childhood into adulthood. There are 30 year old boys, and 28 year old girls, who still have trouble identifying with being an adult, with being a woman, a man. What our society does have, is parental influence which continues on into the twenties, thirties, forties and so on. Depending on the relationship we have with our parents, this influence can render us feeling intimidated, lesser, incapacited, ignorant, as if we were a child again who didn't know any better. A child who is acting out or behaving in childish ways due to lack of knowledge or experience.

We are not children anymore but when did this happen? There was no acknowledgement, no rite of passage. It didn't happen overnight. It sort of just happened over time but neither us or our parents seem to have caught up to this change yet. We're in transition, some sort of horrid limbo where we feel inferior and powerless in the face of parental say so.

I've heard similar struggles recounted from many others. The interesting thing is, nothing seems as violate as the mother-daughter dynamic. I know it wasn't just me!

Over my life, my mother wanted to be close with me. I shared parts of me with her that she did not seem to like. Her comments hurt, though I am sure she did not intend them that way. In response to her need to be close to her daughter, I kept her out of certain areas of me. I am just now starting to understand this struggle between us as a struggle for separate identity formation. Then finally, I read a book and realised that my mother had trouble seeing where she ended and where I began.

At 25 something years of age, I had plenty of time to learn about who I was, yet when I changed my labret stud to a ring and couldn't stop smiling because I was finally happy with my piercing, my mother reacted. She thought I had done it to avoid getting my photo taken at her wedding which was still some time away. Understandably as a child/teen I had resisted my photo taken so I can see how she may naturally assume that is what I was doing. I am not sure if it occured to her that my extreme resistance to photos may just possibly have something to do with her dictating of how I was to dress and look for family photos *shudder* with my hair pulled back from my face. I hated how I looked. I did not feel like authentic me, and so I resisted photographs. I hated the stranger that was looking back from the photos. I don't know if I ever told her this though.

But for goddess's sake, I was 25 something! What did my personal taste in jewellery have to do with HER? She was the last thing on my mind and my birthday was coming up the next week. It was for me! The reaction made me realise I had better inform her I was planning on dreading my hair on my birthday with a friend of mine. Advance warning and all, and perphas she wouldn't react so badly.

She also made a comment some months later about how her partner's daughters had gone through the same when younger and that it was just a fad. I was pretty insulted but just laughed it off. Different tastes and all. I knew she would eventually accept it as a part of my personal taste and accepted that she didn't have to like it.

This went on and off for a while with me mostly taking the comments with a stiff upper lip and not saying anything. That was on me, I allowed those comments to root and fester within me over all those years. My mother was important to me, and as much as I said I didn't care what others thought, I sure as hell did care what SHE thought. She is my mum and I was still seeking validation from her that I wasn't getting.

Finally after understanding more on emotional manipulation and guilt thanks to the learning that had necessitated from domestic violence and needing to protect myself better post-separation....I decided enough was enough. I needed the space to truly be my authentic self, to find my own two feet fully, to grow and transition into adult-me. Sure, I would always be my mother's daughter, but I was determined to be her ADULT daughter, not her child-daughter. I think Christmas was the last straw. Since I was 13 I had been formulating my own views about the world around me and over the years I have agreed with Christmas less and less. It no longer is a part of my value system or rites and as such became the last straw. After a decade or more of resisting Christmas and trying it on like an ill-fitted glove, I threw it aside in disgust. Enough! It was the last straw between my mother and I.

I lost my cool. I stopped stiff upper lipping it and tried to explain where I was coming from, and I got what I viewed as emotional manipulation in return. In hindsight I can see my mother was poorly trying to communicate the depth of emotions she felt on the issue and requesting me to compromise and celebrate with family even though I did not like Christmas. Keeping in mind this followed on the heels of the aftermath of domestic violence and leaving a cult group... I was highly sensitive to people stepping on my boundaries and requesting that I bend them just this time and then bending them more and more until I was no longer my authentic self. It wasn't going to happen!

I told my Mum to not contact me again until she was prepared to change how she interacted with me. There was unfortunately, a lot of Joyous Birth's influence, particularly Janet's in how I conveyed my wishes to my Mum. In any case, I got my wishes respected and my mum left me alone. We did not speak or have contact for a year.

It was good. I changed and grew so much in that time. It was exactly what I needed, and when my Mum and I resumed our relationship again, we did so tentatively, carefully and respectfully. There is some distance between us, and that is a good thing. There is also a closeness that isn't smothering. We have been sharing little pieces of our lives with each other, touching base every now and then but not to an extent that I am struggling to keep my authentic self intact when I am around her. I don't react to her comments as if I were a child, but rather ask her about them as an adult woman. After all those years, I finally feel comfortable and happy with the relationship I have with my Mum.

The strange thing is that after all this time of making it so that I wasn't craving or seeking validation from her, I was able to see the ways in which she was providing validation. I wonder now if the need for validation over the years was due to my swallowing all those comments from her without clarifying and addressing them with her - as much as it was from the nature of her comments. Interactions after all, are a two-way street and the message is notrious for getting lost in translation!

Narratives of My History Herstory.

Narrative, n. A spoken or written account of connected events; a story.

Please read this first before continuing...!

Inane Drivel ~ Fuck Skool Yo. - the beginning of my unschooling journey at 16 yrs old.

Seven Years in Me - my experiences of domestic violence

Breaking Free - a short story based on fact, names changed

Confessions of an Ex-Lapdog - on cults and recovery.

Joyous Birth - A political cult? - exploring cultish aspects

Growing Into Me - the transition from child-me to adult-me.

Shae - single mothering by choice.

A Recalcitrant Pity-fest - realisations of the hardships of deafness.

Thrice October - A tumultuous progression.

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copyright © Lisa Morgan 2007-2012