Sexualized at a Young Age~ my Mother my TeacherBy Darlene Ouimet
I have been writing about the belief system and how it develops; the ways that we view the world and ourselves according to the teachings that we receive from our parents, teachers, media and society in general. Today I continue with a more personal account of behaviour that was modeled for me by my mother.
Growing up, I was taught in so many ways that my value was in my looks and body. That I had to be appealing, attractive and if I were, my life would be successful. My value as a woman would be determined by men. At the same time I was taught that when I got molested at the age of 13, it was my own fault and that I had done something to invite it. All the terror, horror, and the nightmares that followed that event, got mixed in with the teaching that my value was in my looks and body.
There is something really confusing about these mixed messages. The fact is that neither one is true, however for years I went back and forth between these two lies; they ruled much of my life. I found my value in men, I loved to be noticed, my self esteem came from the men who pursued me regardless of how old they were; married or not; nice or not. Most of these men devalued me, used me, treated me in disrespectful ways which I realize today I believed was my fault BUT I also lived in fear of being hurt because I was attractive and if I did get hurt, raped, or assaulted, I had learned that it was certainly something that I had asked for~ again, my fault.
Parents are encouraged to model good behaviour to their children. As a parent myself, I learned things like “if you want your child to eat the right food, then you eat the right foods. If you don’t want your child to have bad manners, then you model good manners. Easy stuff like that makes sense. But our parents often model wrong behaviour and we learn from that too. My mother modeled sexuality to me; she told me that the only power women have is in their sexuality. She taught me that men were lucky, that men had all the power but that women had sexuality. We could make men do what we wanted with our sexuality. Sexuality was control. But what about when men did what I didn’t want them to do? Well I had been taught that was my own fault, so how does a person comprehend that kind of thing? How does a woman or child sort that kind of thing out?
My mother sexualized me. She taught me in so many ways that my only power in life was in my body, my sexuality. This was of course her own reality. She flirted her way through life. She is what would have been called a “cock tease” in my youth. She flirted with men right in front of my father and in front of us children. It was worse when Dad wasn’t around. She acted as though her value, her validation depended upon how men reacted to her. Especially important to her was how they reacted to her sexually and as a woman. She taught me that my value was rooted in my sexuality too. She modeled it for me.
My mother started competing with me not long after her boyfriend came in my room when I was 13. This further reinforced her accusation that her boyfriend sneaking into my room was my fault; my mother no longer trusted me with her men. She started accusing me of flirting with her boyfriend’s when I was 14. She started flirting with my boyfriends by the time I was 16. She publically accused me of being sexually active way before I was sexually active. What a mess.
These are the kinds of things that cause us as adults to get stuck in our own lives. Our beliefs conflict, they argue, they make no sense and they don’t add up. These conflicts cause depression, and all kinds of mental health struggles. When I began to sort through all this in therapy, I saw the confusion and I identified the conflicts which was the beginning of emerging from broken for me.
Let the light of truth shine on,