I remember when I first heard the song… “Seven Years” by Lukas Graham..
I was driving in the car with my 14 year old daughter and it came on the radio. We listened to the entire song without speaking…a deep silence fell upon us when it was over. I look over at her and say…that song almost made me cry. She turns her face to me and her eyes were flooded with held back tears…which only made us laugh and cry at the exact same time!!
The truth is..it was as if his whole life flashed before my eyes…and somehow it struck a chord inside. It made me realize how our memories are such a profound part of the puzzle that portrays who we are and how we became that way.
I’ve been analyzing different memories of my childhood lately….and this is my version of that song:
Once I was seven years old….
I’m on stage…our class is doing a play and we are all behind the curtain, listening to the sounds of footsteps and voices fill the auditorium. There are two girls in front of me giggling, one hand over there mouths and whispering back and forth. I am standing behind them…stone faced and emotionless.
“Aren’t you nervous?” one girl asks.
“No,” I answer quickly thinking that’s the “correct” answer to give. But nervous…was I nervous? I didn’t know. I didn’t know what I was. After all, for some time now every thing I think I am feeling I’m told is wrong, or every motive I think I have inside is twisted to the point that I do not know what I feel, I do not know what I should feel either. Which is why I stand there like a statue, emotionless.
“Man..I wish I was like you. You seem so calm,” the other girl with the blond curly hair says before practically squealing and squeezing her friends hand as the curtain goes up.
My body does everything it’s supposed to do, the right words come out of my mouth at the right time….but my mind is somewhere else.
You wish you were like me???
I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. You see, I can see your emotions, even your fears and nervousness and I am blown away at how easy it is for you to simply show your feelings…your strengths and your weaknesses. My “calm” demeanor is not a real calmness…it’s not because I have a self confidence that allows me to feel this way. Rather it’s because my personality is in prison….inside of me. It’s locked so deep inside I can’t seem to open the door and let me out. Sometimes there are moments I feel authentic and myself.. but I pay a high price for allowing myself out, even if it’s just for a moment. I wonder what it would feel like to allow myself to feel excited, to be so happy I actually giggle…I can’t remember when was the last time
I even laughed. No… you don’t wish you were me. I don’t even wish I was me.
Once I was eleven years old….
My mother told me I was a prostitute…I hadn’t even kissed a boy. Being pretty and attractive was somehow “dirty.” The funny thing is that even though people began to tell me I was pretty….I didn’t feel that way. I didn’t see a pretty girl when I looked in the mirror…I didn’t feel pretty on the inside…the only thing that I saw when I looked in the mirror were my flaws. It was like the mirror reflected my interior instead of my exterior and shoved my face into this blackness, this overwhelming self hatred that lived inside of me. I wondered if anyone could ever love me or if I was capable of loving. I didn’t know what love was, you see some parents punish their kids for their bad behavior by taking away privileges (tv, phone, going out with friends, etc.)My punishment was that “love” was taken away so that I was either hated or loved depending on my actions..It was almost like a game…love was like a carrot dangled before the eyes of a horse who raced to try to gain the unobtainable. But in this game it was hard to understand the rules to follow in order to keep that love..you see..they kept changing.
Once I was eighteen years old old…
I have been living away from home for 2 years, ever since I left that note on my mothers bed and ran away. I live with a family that has taken me in, although they barely know me. There is love in this house…real love..not just the kind you portray for show.
I remember being 16…The mother, Joyce, comes into our bedroom and rubs her daughters back. I watch as she whispers to my friend Gina…it’s so tender to watch…this kind of love from a mother to a daughter. I have never seen it before other than in movies and I can’t seem to close my eyes or look away. The tears are hot as they run down my face like molten lava….and suddenly even though it’s dark..Joyce sees my eyes are open and even though I quickly shut them tight..I’ve been caught. She turns on the light and see’s the pain in my face and to my surprise she starts crying as well. She places me before a mirror and makes me say good things about myself..I love myself..she tells me to say out loud as I look at this stranger in the mirror. The words do not come out of my mouth easily, it’s like speaking a foreign language. But I say them anyway, not because I believe them but because I feel so bad that I have caused the painful expression on her face. She makes me do that all the time now….and she makes it a goal to point out any time I do something kind or something that makes her proud…she doesn’t just tell me I’m a good person she points out evidence of it all the time.
They saved me.
But at 18 I feel a fierce need to be on my own…to be able to stand on my own two feet so I move out.
Once I was 21 years old..
I have worked hard to use my mother as the perfect example of everything I do not want to be. I am growing as a person…sometimes I even let my authentic self out of the self made prison I have within.
I have moved in with a family…rented a room from them and I am making new friends, and learning about life. I realize that what I lived as a kid is not the “norm.” Not everyone is like that..and I do not have to grow up to be like my mother.
But my mother see’s me growing and thriving and she leaves her husband to move into the same town I am living in. She claims he kicked her out…but I know the truth, I was there when she left. It was her choice, her choice to leave to be near me. She follows me and a part of me feels a need to have her there and a part of me dreads it.
I find love with an amazing man but I allow others to tell me that I can do better, that he is not good for me. I do what I was taught to do as a child….I override my own perceptions and break up with him.
I find love again and my mother does everything she can to sabotage it…then when I break up with him she tells me how great he was for me…
This happens with every healthy relationship I enter. She sabotages it, of course I allow it because I still don’t realize that I have boundaries, ..and then I am blamed for ruining it.
Once I was twenty four years old…
I meet a man who makes me feel special, chosen….every girl I know wanted him. He didn’t date around…he waited for the “perfect” woman …and that’s me.Everyone tells me how amazing he is…how he is a happy person and how happy I will be.
There are some things about him that are completely waving around red flags…but I don’t listen to myself because I still haven’t realized I have good perception and that I do not need anyone else to make my decisions for me.
We marry quickly…..
And on the wedding day My Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde.
I have succeeded in life by not becoming like my mother….but I made the horrifying mistake of marrying someone just like her!!
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