Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Writer's Workshop Wednesday ~ I Was Enough The Day I Was Born, by Anonymous

Welcome to Writer's Workshop Wednesday!  This is my way of paying it forward to all the people out there who want to start writing, but don't have their own blogs yet, or who are established writers that are looking to appeal to a different audience. I have also opened this up to those who would like to post anonymously about topics that are too difficult to write about publicly. Each week, I will host one or two posts by different writers.

I hope that you enjoy this series, I hope you find some new writers to follow, I hope this helps them out and I hope we can all learn something from them.

Today's piece was submitted anonymously by one of the people I've grown closest to over the last year by virtue of our online connection.  A fabulous writer and an amazing person, she quickly took the opportunity to write secretly and share a piece of the story she can't share otherwise.

With love and respect, her story.

I Was Enough The Day I Was Born

Do you have a relative that wants to keep you in second place? You know, one of those people that likes to remind you that your accomplishments are never quite as good as some other persons accomplishments? No matter what you achieve or do, you are still a disappointment? I do. It’s my grandmother. 

Her voice lives inside my head so, even though she physically lives on the other side of the country and we only communicate by email, I still get to experience what I call “second place syndrome” on a daily basis. I’ve learned to do it to myself in her absence. I remind myself that I am not enough, don’t do enough, and will never, ever be enough. She has trained me well.

I’ve been struggling lately with how to cast that voice out of my head. I am almost forty years old. When do I let it go and shrug it off? When do I out grow the need for self-flaggellation? For perfection? For the need to please the impossible to please? It’s not as easy as it sounds. That voice has a 35 year history of filling my head with nonsense. It’s been lovingly crafted and developed to insure the most damage can be caused in just one single moment of self-doubt.

When I graduated magna cum laude the first thing my grandmother told me was that her step daughter graduated summa cum laude. When I sent her a birthday gift she made it a point to tell me that her best friends granddaughter was more like a granddaughter to her than I was. When I gave my daughter a pacifier, she told me my drug-using, living with her parents cousin was a better parent than I because she chose not to give her daughter a pacifier. The last time I went to visit my grandmother she handed me a binder full of stories she had written about her life. She wanted me to read them. In between the stories she included a copy of an email she had sent to someone I did not know. The email was all about how my house wasn’t clean and neat enough to meet her standards. Then she went on to write about how my sister dressed like a tramp. She said my sisters boyfriend looked like one of the shooters at Columbine. The only thing he was guilty of was wearing a trench coat. My sister was only 15 at the time the email was written. I was 27 at the time, working three jobs and going to college full time. My house was messy because I left my house at 6am and got home after 10pm every week day. That didn’t matter. I should have kept my house neater too.

My grandmother is obsessed with appearances. Appearances matter more than anything else does. I think that’s why I always fell and fall below her standards. I’ve always been more interested in substance than in appearances. When I was a kid I didn’t dress the right way. I was too quiet. I cried too much. I loved my mom too much (who says stuff like that to a kid?). I didn’t get good enough grades. I didn’t get a scholarship to college or score high enough on my SAT’s. I didn’t marry the right person. I didn’t put my daughter in daycare and go back to work after she was born. I was not classy enough or smart enough. I was not beautiful enough. This list could go on for a long time, but I am sure you are getting the picture. I could always be better or something more. I am never enough no matter what I do.

Now I don’t email or call her enough, but when I do I talk too much. I am too opinionated. I am an adult. She doesn’t know what to say to me anymore. She knows I don’t listen. I smile and nod and do what I want to do. My degrees in psychology scare her. She thinks I am always analyzing her. She doesn’t realize I am not a psychotherapist. She doesn’t understand the distinction. She doesn’t realize that I tuned out years ago and that what she says now just goes in one ear and out the other. I daydream while she talks. It’s too painful to pay attention.

Still, her voice is in my head when I least expect it. What will the neighbor’s think? I can hear her saying it now. What will the neighbors think???

I am tired of walking around with all of this shame. This isn’t my shame. It does not belong to me. I wonder now if she has felt threatened by me all these years because I do things despite what the neighbors will think. I have a quiet courage that she tried to squash out of me in order to hide her own insecurities. All of these years later and I care even less about appearances than I did when I was a kid. I feel sorry for her because I see she is mostly alone. She has pushed everyone away with her constant disapproval. It is sad to see. Her life is almost over and she is all alone and she has no idea why. I wish I could help her, but I gave up trying to fix people a long time ago. It doesn’t work. I think I should feel guilty, but I don’t. Instead I feel grateful for the miles between us and the limited communication. It’s just easier this way somehow.

This burden of shame is getting too heavy for me to carry. The voice is weighing me down. It’s keeping me from greatness and happiness. It’s keeping me from acceptance. This shame was never mine to carry anyway, so I am writing it away and sending it out into the universe. I am setting it down right here. I refuse to carry it one step further.

I am enough. I was the day I was born. So are you. Don’t believe you belong in second place. Don’t believe it for a minute. It’s a lie.

5 comments:

  1. Wow! What a great submission! Kudos for such a well written piece. There is no shame you should be carrying and I'm sorry you ever had to feel that way. I hope your grandmother finds her own peace, as you have. Yes, you are enough! *smiles*

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  2. Just...wow. Powerful words.

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  3. I could have written this. My Nanny, who is my Mom's mom, is very similar. She doesn't talk down to me or anything, mostly because she doesn't talk to me at all. My cousins have ripped her off for thousands of dollars. I owe her $300 for a phone bill and you'd think that I was a criminal. She has extended this to my children. She might send a birthday card here or there, but she doesn't talk to them or bother to call.

    You are enough, just as I am. Because we are the people who know us best and we know how awesome we are! ♥

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  4. Kelly, I don't know who wrote this but I LOVED this. All of our lives we are taught that we're supposed to respect our elders, that we're supposed to keep family close, blahblahblah. I call B.S.
    I say that we respect the people who respect US, and that we keep the people close that uplift us and support us, not tear us down because of their own insecurities. This grandmother is not "family"...she just happens to be a descendant of a common ancestor. Thankfully the author seems to realized that she IS enough, but far too many people never get over the hurt and judgement and are unable to get past it. That's not fair. Life should be about surrounding yourself with people who love you for YOU. No more bullies. No more condescending A-holes. No more manipulators or terrorists or extremists. Just acceptance. And happiness <3 Bravo to this writer!! May her story help someone else realize that they are MORE THAN enough.

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  5. This hurts my heart, because I had two of the best Grandmas in the world...I can't imagine somebody, especially, a GRANDMA, talk you down like that! Big, huge props to you for overcoming that! You are more than she could ever dream of being....my own thought on this....

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