It’s now up to me
Today I was reading this book called “Who You Were Meant to Be*,” and one of the sentences struck me. It said, “This is the end of my childhood, it’s now up to me”. It’s funny how you can be 34 years old and realize this is finally a truth I can recognize. These last few months, I’ve been focusing on myself. On taking responsibility for myself, growing up and quit blaming others for my lack of success.
Let’s start at the beginning. I was 3 years old and.. No, not that beginning. The beginning of this new phase. The event that set this in motion. I had a fight with my mom. The first one. The first real one. It doesn’t matter what happened, but it was serious, and she crossed a serious boundary. I was flabbergasted and could not do anything else but be angry. And stay angry. Because she chose to blame me. She chose not to apologize and kept trying to act like nothing had happened. I didn’t tell anyone within my family but talked to other people. I saw the way they reacted to my story. They were pulling up eyebrows at moments in the story where I didn’t yet see a problem. That made me reflect even more. More and more, it dawned on me that she had crossed boundaries that were not okay my whole life, and I kept protecting and defending her to the rest of the family. My brother and sister were done with her behavior for years, but I didn’t really see the problem. But I had started to see it, and it made me angry but also very sad. That I had been through this and, in the meantime, had learned not to trust my own feelings but defend people (and myself) that showed this behavior.
After a month and a half, she called me up and asked me if I was still grumpy. Ahum, grumpy?! I was ANGRY. Really freaking angry. And she knew perfectly well why I was mad. But with this phone call she made clear to me that she was the victim, and I was being a bother. But for the first time in my whole life, I knew for sure I was not being a ‘bother; I was on the right side of things. So I kept my ground. It was hard, but I kept my ground.
After that phone call, I finally called my sister with the news we were fighting, and I apologized for always defending my mother’s behavior towards my sister. I was growing up. After that phone call, I felt calm, calmer than I’ve ever felt in my life. I felt like things were becoming ‘right’ for me. I felt a natural sort of distance was created by this, and it opened the world for me.
I’ve never wanted to travel, I’ve never seen why it could add anything to my life. I wasn’t missing anything at home, and I felt I couldn’t leave my family. Even though my family and I are rarely in contact. I may see or speak to them every few months. So why did I have this feeling that kept me from traveling? Everyone told me it was so amazing. After this fight with my mom, I finally saw it. It suddenly became a possibility—not a ‘running away from my problems thing’ but a ‘going on an adventure because why the hell not’ thing. Everything fell into place within days. I was going to Italy. For 3 months. Why? No fucking clue. Why not. No plans, no flights booked, but I knew I was going.
In those 3 months, I was confronted with my lack of grown-up behavior. I kept putting my faith in other people’s hands and waited to be rescued. It made me freaking unhappy, but I could finally see what was happening. What I was doing. I couldn’t do anything about it, but I could finally see what it was what I was doing. After that, I had a goal to work toward. Learning where my boundaries were and asking for what I needed.
Since I was in this fight with my mom and couldn’t really figure out what to do but did definitely feel that I had to work this feeling out and not deny that the feelings were there, I picked up the book “The Fountain” by Els Steijn. I already knew the book and what it was about, but I never picked it up. Reading it was like seeing the clouds being lifted. I discovered that my brother, sister, and I were always putting ourselves above our parents because they were so immature. But through this book, I learned that I can not ever put myself above them and that putting myself above them would stunt my own growth as an adult. So I learned to let them go and be their own grown-ups. I learned to accept that I had to be my own adult and let go of the hope of them ever taking care of me.
After finishing this book, I found this book called “adult children of emotionally immature parents” and dived in, prepared to hear the hard parts. Ho-ly-shit. My childhood was described in this book. I made time to read, write, reflect on this book and finally face the difficult feelings I was feeling. The book finally made clear why I had these very complicated feelings. I went to work. Step by very slow step, I felt myself changing. I felt myself becoming an adult and began to recognize how I was still acting as a child who wanted someone to take care of her.
Now, back at home, still reading the books about emotionally immature parents, I’m feeling the truth of this statement of “this is the end of my childhood, it’s now up to me’. And it is. I’m ready. It’s going to be fucking hard, but I’m going to do the work. It’s time to grow up.
* The links in this blogpost are affiliate links. If you buy the product through my link I’ll get a small percentage of the price.