When I was 12, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
At the time, I didn’t understand the magnitude of the diagnosis. I understood that it was a severe disease, but I just thought “Okay.” I did this is a subconsciously conscious manner. I guess I knew what was coming out of a diagnosis like that: That she would be looking for empathy. That she would play the victim card long after the game was over. That she would be asking for something from me that she had long denied giving me. I understand that I can’t even begin to comprehend what she must have been going through, but at the time I made a conscious effort not to.
I was born with a lot of empathy
Almost too much empathy. I felt too much and cared too hard. I could easily put myself in others shoes and feel what they felt in a real and honest way. I would feel the happiness and the pain of the world and I learned early on that, that was not okay.
I didn’t grow up in an emotional household. Instead, it was very pragmatic, so the energies surrounding my empathetic behaviors made me realize that they were seen as undesirable. I wanted to please; I wanted to be normal, and my way of feeling was obviously abnormal.
There are multiple examples of this that I don’t really feel like getting into. But one that sticks out to me was after my friend had killed himself. My mom yelled at me and said that she didn’t want me talking to people that knew him or to go to his funeral. Looking back, I know she did this because she knew that I was an empathetic child, and she didn’t want me to feel what others were feeling. I know that this wasn’t the right approach for her to take. Not once did she ask me how I felt or comfort me over the loss of a life before its prime. But I didn’t have any of these thoughts at the time. The only thing that it reinforced was that my empathy was undesirable. I needed to lose it.
I don’t know if I actually lost some empathy or just suppressed it, but by my teenage years, I was at odds with my empathetic soul. I feel like I drifted through a large portion of my life at that stage, but that’s a story best saved for another time. I had suppressed my empathy by such a high degree, that I became this selfish being. I wasn’t sitting right with my soul at the time, and I realize this now, but at the time I was just seen as a moody teenager.
Since I had been taught that empathy was undesirable, I became outraged that my mother would ask it of me
Especially because I felt like she didn’t show me empathy when I needed it most. I had suffered a lot, and she never seemed to care. Whenever I was going through pain, she just stayed very matter-of-fact, and she didn’t provide me with the love, and nurturing that my empathetic soul needed. I tried to feel bad that she was in pain, but I was indignant of this. She wanted to be coddled, she wanted to be loved, she wanted someone to put themselves in her shoes and feel what she was feeling. How dare she. She never displayed these emotions towards me; in fact she taught me to not feel these emotions. Now she demands that I show them towards her? I was jealous, indignant, angry, and I didn’t know how to deal, so I didn’t. I didn’t feel anything about it. At all. And it’s sad to say now as an adult looking back and processing all of this, but I really shut off all of my emotions towards her because I could not work through them.
I believe that some souls are older than others.
Through my short time on this Earth, I’ve started to begin to see the true age of people. And it’s hard to say this without it sounding condescending, and I mean it in no condescending way. I see those who are older than me and wiser than me, who I can learn from. And I see those who are younger than me, who I know I can learn even more from. It’s harder to deal with those who are younger, especially after realizing that they’re such an age. It’s easy to become cocky and feel superior, when in fact that’s just showing your own naivety. Those who are younger than you need you to show them by doing. Teach them by being. They are younger than me, so they may not seek out the little wisdom that I have, and definitely not in the way that I seek out the wisdom from those older than me. But I know that they can learn from me by me being. And in that subtle way, maybe they will become wiser, and maybe it’ll in turn lead me to become wiser and not think of them as younger and see them as peers. I don’t know, I thought I was having a divine thought, and they’re so easy to feel, but so hard to get onto paper in a way that doesn’t make me cringe and say “Yikes, that doesn’t sound like the way it sounds in my head.” I guess I have some growth to do in that, so I’ll keep trying.
But I was going somewhere with this: my mom has done the best she can. My mom did the best she could. With all things taken into consideration, I know that she was just raising me to the best of her ability. And I’m grateful to her; I wouldn’t be who I am today without everything that she did and didn’t do for me.
Now it’s time for me to do my best.
Today she got her breast implants replaced. I started this post at 11:45am, and now I’m finishing it at 11:45 pm. As I went through the day, I reminded myself of how I’m grateful for the things my mother did for me growing up when I was sick. Although I wasn’t as needy as her–I think that was my indignation, no my self-righteousness coming out. I am who I am, and she was who she was. She provided for me to the best of her ability, now it’s my turn to provide for her the best way I can. I feel like annoyed that my best is better than her best, and I acknowledge that I feel that. I feel sad that I feel that way, and I acknowledge that I feel sad that I feel that way. I’m doing my best and even if my best was better than her best, I feel ashamed for thinking that, and I acknowledge that I feel ashamed and I don’t know where to go from here. Do I erase it? Do I leave it? Do I really think/feel that way? I don’t know. I think maybe that’s my youth talking, and maybe I’m not as old as I may perceive my soul to be. I’m doing my best just like she did her best. There’s no need to compare the two because we’re two separate people both trying to care for each other the best way we know how.
Gosh, that revelation could have come in handy earlier today!