I had two grandmothers ~ they were like the Good Witch and the Bad Witch. I would not have thought of them this way if it weren’t for truly thinking that the mean grandma was an honest to goodness fairy tale Witch. I didn’t like the bad Witch. The mean grandmother believed and would say things like “children should be seen and not heard.” She made it very clear that children were nothing she was interested in. And she made that my fault.
There was another odd thing about that statement; the “bad Witch” didn’t want to SEE us either. She made lots of comments about how loud we were and I remember her constantly saying that our laughter got on her nerves. But EVERYTHING got on her nerves.
As a child, when I was told that children should be seen and not heard, or when I felt that communication, I believed that meant I should be seen and not heard. I didn’t think that if only I could grow up so that I could be worth listening to. I was crushed. I was invalid. I was unwanted. AND she made sure that I knew it was MY fault she felt that way.
There was another mixed message with that same grandmother. (Continued…) She also said that I was sullen and withdrawn. So now I am too loud and too quiet. Not allowed to cry, not allowed to laugh. What is a child supposed to do with that information? Children do not have the maturity to realize that this is about THEM. I thought it was about me.
And just when, at what age was I supposed to realize that this was about her?
My mean grandmother would take a look at me and then tell my mother (her daughter) what was wrong with everything about me. She especially didn’t like my hair, which was long, thick, beautiful and very well taken care of. She would examine me, she narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips and then she turned to my mother and said things like “I don’t like her hair that way”. Sometimes she would say “I don’t like her hair, dear”. “It’s too long, dear”. It seemed to be worse when she added that endearment on the end. From the time I was four all I wanted was long hair; most of my positive identity was about my hair, and it was as if she knew that. Her comments were very hurtful and very destructive. She was an emotionally and psychologically abusive grandmother.
She put me down this way from my earliest memory of her. And while she was putting me down, she was also putting my mother down because of course my mother was responsible for whatever my grandmother didn’t like about me, so my guess is that she was getting two digs for the price of one. (again, this is emotional abuse) I remember when I was in my twenties my grandmother looked at me and turned to my mother and said “I don’t like her lipstick”. Another time she turned to my mother and said “I don’t like her hair”. And with that same sneer as before, she said things directly to me too; “why are you wearing that color?” “I think you should wear a dress”.
I drew my own conclusions. I didn’t really love my mean grandmother; I mean what was there to love? I was afraid of her even though I never disrespected her. But that doesn’t mean that her constant disapproval of me didn’t take a toll. And I had questions too. Why did she feel this way about me? What was wrong with me? I still remember her nasty face when she made those hurtful assessments of me and my appearance, looking down on me as though I were a mere bug to be squashed. And my mother didn’t say a word in my defense. My mean grandmother had plenty of critical things to say about my mother too and my mother sat and took it also. I guess my mother didn’t know that as an adult, she had a choice.
I actually shuddered as I wrote this, remembering the way that my grandmother was towards me. I disgusted her. I felt disgusting in her presence. I felt like something was wrong with me; I felt the sting of rejection. She made sure that I knew that I was unworthy. I was just a child; a sullen and disgusting, noisy and bothersome child with nasty hair and unflattering outfits. But I had been raised to try harder; to accept that it must be about me, my fault and my shortcoming and raised to try harder. And so I did.
Oh and I forgot to mention; my mean grandmother was married to a drunken child molester, which is a whole other story for a whole other blog post but in light of all the evidence, my parents knew that he was a child molester, and a drunk, and her mother was a mean Witch so why were they still taking ME there in the first place?
Realizing how things were for me as a child has gone such a long way towards the emotional healing that I have experienced. I had to uncover the lies that I had accepted about myself, before I could override them with the truth. I would like to welcome you to share your own stories, thoughts, feelings, discoveries or the ways that you were invalidated and subscribe to the comments or check back; we always have great discussions here.
Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;
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related posts ~ Mom and Grandma had a dysfunctional mother daughter relationship