As a boy, preteen, teen, young adult and adult I tried to win my mother’s tenderness toward me. At an intellectual level I knew it was futile. I had painfully learned it was futile as I will describe below. The initial shock of realization was healed by sharing with program friends and family. The original pain with my mom has long since been gone. It is an important memory for me but it was history not current events.
That process still goes on but it is much less intense since the original and early process was complete with false and completely unfair guilt feelings, shame and a sense of being intensely disloyal to the woman with whom I I should be loyal.
As is the case for all the bitter youthful wounds I endured, I developed deeply habitual methods designed to bury the memory that developed over decades. Getting rid of those habits has been my task for a very long difficult process.
I have made enormous progress thanks to my my kids and grand kids, my sisters and several decades of persistent and committed use of My Al-Anon friends and program. I also had wonderful psychologists and psychiatrists. As I have joked repeatably, “I believe in prayer and medications.
When my girls were young I played rough house games on the living room carpet every night of the world. We played games like Elevator, Wake up dad [from feigned sleep and make him pretend angry ] and other fun games too. As a closing to the evening we put on a very rhythmic music. Then we formed a circle and tried to out crazy each other with wild dancing. My grand kids and I also played raucously also for years. The grand kids liked games more like pillow fights.
Once I had a compression fracture of my L 5 vertebrae. I went up to Ellensburg to see them while I was recovering. I was intent on playing rough house games. When I startd to entice them to play they sensibly looked at each other and left the room. I would not admit I needed not to rough house but they knew and protected me.
I once asked a therapist how I got so determined to be healthy emotionally. First of all I wanted to be a good dad. I have one daughter with whom I have a total and long lasting broken relationship. The other three adult daughters of whom I am very proud affirm me as a dad. We are very close.
I was a Sophomore in high school at Kearney High School in Linda Vista in the San Diego area. It was report card day. In that system I attended my reular classes and got my grade for that class. Then I went to my next class and got my grade for that class and so on through the day until I had all my grades.
Both my daughter’s. My granddaughters may never understand how profoundly they healed me. I have two more granddaughters by my youngest daughter marriage that have stolen my heart totally and mean everything to me. I am going to see them in Chicago this Spring. I can’t wait.
My therapists thought that with my kids and grand kids I had two periods of me having a chance to be a true kid for many months and years. My grand kids and I however still disagree on who won the pillow fights. I do not think my kids and grand kids have any idea how central they were to my emotional and spiritual healing
I also was determined and motivated not to be crazy like my parents. My mom was endlessly narcissistic and selfish.In her mind I was endlessly responsible to meet her needs. My Dad had to deal with her and was Bi Polar so he deserves my pity not my anger.
Now I want to tell you when I first saw that trying to get love from my mom was a hopeless and futile exercise.
Things were going very well for me as I moved through my classes. I was getting very good grades. The last class was Spanish. I am not good at learning other languages. I was hoping my Spanish class was not going to spoil my day.
When I got to Spanish and was given my grade to my delight I got an “A”. You can imagine how happy I was. I thought “I can’t wait to get home and show Mom my report card. It was the best I have ever gotten.
I charged through then front door and shouted happily for my Mom. She was in the kitchen. I handed her my card waiting for the praise and affection. She glanced at it briefly and went back to her sandwich. Then she said “George, I don’t see why you always have to prove you are smarter than everyone else and turned away.
I remember my reaction so well. I felt a shock to my right temple exactly like I had been hit hard by a big person. I just hit myself in the right temple to refresh my memory. I clearly saw and understood I would never get what I needed from her.
That realization did not last long. My inability to win her affection was much to awful to let it remain in my conscious mind so I immediately buried it. From then on I subconsciously buried it. I repeatably kept it down over and over again for decades.
A year or so ago I told my Daughter Jill That I loved my granddaughters more that I loved her at their age. I said “I loved you with all my heart back then but there was less room for love. Then I said “I love you and I love the girls with all my heart today but my heart is so much bigger now. I feel so free these days because I can love you with my much larger heart”.