You know, the one thing that if you could’ve changed it would’ve made an epic difference in your psyche?
Mine is this.
My Mother has OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). It R-U-L-E-D our life. It crippled my Dad. It wreaked havoc on any happiness that ever tried to enter our front door because it was the MONSTER of the house. It turned two little girls (me and my sister) into enemies. It made me super strong and super fake because I was so busy pretending that everything was a-ok. It destroyed our family.
I was the happiest girl you could ever meet. Still am.
For the most part (oh, 85%), it’s true. I am happy.
The other 15% is a mask that I wear to hide the torment, the gut-wrenching pain, the all-encompassing fear and the pretense wanting to make my life ‘normal.’ (It’s not.)
Lest you think I’m trying to be Miss Perfect, I have ADD and am borderline bi-polar (I lean more to the manic phases than the depressive) and those are both deemed mental illnesses. (Yes, Mom, I said the word mental illness about myself.)
I danced the people-pleasing dance so suavely for the first 45 years of my life. Then, I crashed, burned out and failed big. Let my impulsiveness and my ADD take me to places and projects I shouldn’t have touched and lost everything I ever owned in a misguided and underfunded real-estate business.
I wish my Mother would’ve gotten help for her OCD. When I was a little girl. When she still read me my favorite book “Madeline” and yelled pedal-pedal-pedal as I learned to ride my little red bike. When change was still possible and the imprint of craziness wasn’t imprinted on my mind and my heart and my soul and my life.
Yes, I said craziness. Because now I’m 50 and this angst still lurks in my soul each and every day. I fight it. I fight hard. Most of the time I win, but sometime I’m simply and utterly too tired.
I wish my Mother would’ve gotten help for her OCD. I wish I could’ve helped her, but as a child I didn’t know how. I tried to be the good girl. I believed that if I worked hard enough and pleased enough people, everything might turn out all right.
Here are the 10 gems of wisdom I learned from the “One Thing I Wished I Could’ve Changed”:
#1) OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) is a mental illness. It is a disease. The disease was not my Mom. She is as much a casualty of her own disease as I was. SO SAD
#2: The Monster is the mental illness. The Monster is not my Mom. GET HELP
#3: My Mom’s responsibility was in taking care of her children. She did not. She left us mentally bruised, emotionally battered, and spiritually scarred for life because of her own selfishness. TAKE CARE OF YOUR CHILDREN
#4: My future is not dependent on my past. The choices I make today determine the path I will take. CHOOSE A BETTER PATH FOR YOURSELF
#5: My Father was as responsible for my shattered psyche as my Mom was. For decades I viewed him as a hero and just within the past couple of years did I understand that he was an accomplice to the abuse. I know that his intentions were pure and that he believed keeping the family together was paramount, but it crippled us. Parents are responsible for keeping their children safe…no matter what. IF YOU SAY OR DO NOTHING TO PROTECT A CHILD, YOU ARE THE PERPETRATOR
#6: Pleasing people is futile. Treat people with kindness. That’s all you can do. Not everyone is going to like you or want to be your friend. It doesn’t matter. GET OVER BEING LIKED
#7: My fake happiness worked. I am happy. Secrets pervaded my entire childhood. No one knew what was going on in my home. Secrets rarely are good. It has only been in telling the cold hard truths that I have felt liberated and cleansed. DON’T KEEP SECRETS THAT HURT
#8: Not all endings are happy ones. Sometimes they are devastating. LIFE WILL GO ON
#9: Family is ultra-important but there are some circumstances in life that can’t be changed. If your blood family leaves you, make your own. Sometimes friends can be closer than family…and they actually like you just the way you. FAMILY ARE THE PEOPLE YOU CHOOSE
#10: If you can’t control something, can’t change something and didn’t cause something then you have absolutely NO power in making it better. USE YOUR OWN POWER FOR GOOD
Life is a tough teacher. This lesson took 45 years for me to learn.
Challenge:Write your own story. Excavate your own lessons. Teach them to someone else so that what touched you, won’t hurt another. Use your own power for good.