In my recovery it has been important for me to realize how my parents did not have a sense of their own value and therefore did not know how to help me to see my own value. I think that when we are adult children and we struggle with self esteem, we have some funky and skewed systems in place, causing us to believe that the road to wholeness and freedom is on a path that it isn’t on at all. It can get really confusing if at the heart of it we believe that someone else can restore our value, or that we can be the source of defining value for another. If you have not read my last post “The Beginning of Broken ~ Family Foundations”, please read it first as it gives more context for this post.
Somewhere along the way my mother thought that her children would restore her value. I think this is what so often happens. Parents try to get their value restored through their children. Children can’t accomplish that; nobody can restore value for another person. But I really wanted my mother to be okay, and thought that if only I could love her enough, that she would love me too and I tried harder and harder but I failed her. Her disappointment became blame which seeped out unto me and became a part of the way that I viewed myself.
When my oldest son was 12 he began to roll his eyes at me, speaking to me and looking at me like I was a little crazy. Since I had struggled with depression for many years, deep down I thought maybe I was crazy. My greatest joy and most important work in life up till then had been raising these 3 kids but I had this feeling that I was failing. Pretty much my only goal in life had been not to do what my mother did to me, but it was all going wrong and I was seriously considering giving up. I thought the kids might be better off without me, and that my husband might be able to do a better job on his own. I sought help as a last resort.
I was very sure that I could do things better with my own kids. I had a few ideas about where my parents failed me, but I didn’t often consider that my self esteem got stunted because their self esteem was stunted. When my parents didn’t succeed in showing me my value, and although I worked hard in many different ways to find my value, I failed, mostly because I looked for evidence of value in the wrong places. I didn’t have anywhere to start from. The foundation was never laid, so I looked for my worth in my work, through other people, through my talents and things like that.
When I had my own children, deep down I thought that I would do better with raising them and that in succeeding in doing better, in successfully raising my own kids, that THEY would be the proof of my value. I thought successful parenting would “define” me and prove that I was a valuable person. I started to have increasing mental health breakdowns as I realized that I was not having the success that I dreamed of, nor was my value being established. I had to throw all my old ideas out the window and learn a new way of looking at things in order to heal from the illnesses that I struggled with. I had to think outside the confines of the box that was passed down to me in order to find freedom and wholeness on this side of broken.
What are your thoughts on these ideas? As always I welcome your comments, as your views only enhance the effectiveness of my purpose.