I have hesitated to write this post because I wanted to be sure to do it justice.
I have had… nothing short of… a Renaissance!
With thanks to Google, here is the definition:
The Renaissance was a fervent period of European cultural, artistic, political and economic “rebirth” following the Middle Ages. Generally described as taking place from the 14th century to the 17th century, the Renaissance promoted the rediscovery of classical philosophy, literature and art.
It began with my trip to see Mom. And it continues through to *this moment* and beyond!
As I sit here typing, I realize it began BEFORE I went to see my mother. About three weeks before, I bought some new lounging wear/ pajamas and got my hair cut. I wanted to … impress? … her. We talk on the phone every week but we haven’t seen each other in person since 2018. She likes me in short hair and I know she appreciates color and fashion. I’m a mostly grey/ black girl in fashion but I busted out of my shell to buy a favorite color from my youth – peach – and got matching pieces that could mix-n-match.
What I didn’t know, because I didn’t try anything on, is that the clothes I bought were all too large. And by that, I mean TWO SIZES too large. Half of what I’d packed for the trip looked ridiculous and was literally falling off me. Even the tops, which now had no matching bottoms, looked matronly. Peach is lovely but no longer a favored color for me to wear.
My hair was a different matter. I didn’t go to my usual stylist because I couldn’t get in for an appointment at the time. So, I went elsewhere. A strip-mall joint that caters to … uh … cheap.
So, while the visit with Mom was fantastic, the things surrounding it – from the bone-aching air / land travel to the uncomfortable clothes and hair – were a disaster. If you didn’t read about it the first time, here’s the post about the travel part. I think the clothes and hair can be imagined in your mind. LOL
Okay, so while at Mom’s, we talked about how I’d let myself… go. Not my body – she has been 100% supportive with my walking and health goals – but my clothes. I was too embarrassed to say I’d bought everything brand new, especially for this visit. If I haven’t been clear, imagine MC Hammer pants in peach. Ugh. Every pair but the black yoga pants I’d traveled in. Thank God I had them! Mom suggested more color and fit. I agreed!
But at the same time, I was embarrassed. She (most likely) had no idea… but then again, she’s a therapist and my mother. Perhaps she (kindly) didn’t make a big deal about it.
When I got home I went shopping. I bought $200 worth of more colorful clothing in a smaller size – in some cases, two sizes smaller. It felt better. But still… not right.
Now, this is the part where things start to change. I mean, really start to CHANGE.
I have some self-help books on the shelf that I need to write about, some read, others not yet. Instead, I picked up an old book. I’d been thinking a lot about emotional family legacy. And, I was still wondering about why I’d felt the need to impress Mom.
I bought a new journal. I pulled out that book I told you about (above). And I started reading it in a whole new light. I took notes and did the exercises in my new journal.
When I originally wrote about the book, “Will I Ever Be Good Enough? by Karyl McBride, Ph.D.” I was in a place of FINDING BLAME. You might think I blamed my mother for my problems… in fact… I blamed myself, as evidenced by the subtitle to my post: The mother-in-question is me.
I now realize that I needn’t have BLAMED *anyone*!
The women in my family have lived under the umbrella of narcissism from before my mother’s – or my – time. Not that blame needs to be placed, but the mother in question should have been someone from generations before.
I poured through this book like it was the Bible, page-by-page… and did my cardinal sin(s) of turning corners, using highlighters, and writing in the book.
Understand, I’d read the book before – more than once – but never like THIS.
In its pages, I found my grandmother, mother, sister, our daughters, and me. All of us huddled under that umbrella of a shared legacy — JUST DOING THE BEST WE CAN.
One of the exercises also describes the book itself, which is a gift. It’s called (if I’m remembering correctly), “The gifts my mother gave me”. You list the emotional gifts your mother gave you…
Which prompted me to do a page for my grandmother…
Which led me down a whole new rabbit trail. The next book I pour through will be about friends, for sure. But that’s for later.
The point is – this book has been a gift in itself.
When I finished the book and exercises, I felt a kind of freedom I haven’t felt in YEARS.
THIS is what self-help should DO.
Zipping through some of the books is fine. Obviously! Not all are gems or deeply profound, after all.
We know this.
But some actually DO change your life. This one has that power if you let it.
I have decided that 20 years is long enough to carry the weight of guilt and shame for moving to Canada. Actually, it’s been nearly 22… and there is something important in that, too.
Earlier this month, my husband and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. This means that I have now been married to my second husband longer than my first (which was 20 years).
In the midst of all the hard work (emotionally) I have been doing recently, this anniversary came along and reminded me that THIS IS MY LIFE NOW. It *has* been, of course, but there was always this feeling that the prior life was the real one. I don’t know what that makes this one… but it felt like something just out of my reach… possibly temporary – if I’m being very honest with myself.
And so, I encourage you to pick up one of your older self-help books (I plan to pick up several!) and re-read them with an eye toward what can be learned anew (or for the first time!). I promise it will be worth it.
I talk about life-changing a lot, I know. This time, it prompted some REAL life-changing … uh… changes. You will be hearing all about them soon.
Oh, and PS… I bought two new-to-me dresses, shown below. That’s another of the things I realized about myself. I thought I shopped at thrift stores because I felt “less than” or “not worthy” for new clothes and books and things.
I am a vintage gal who enjoys a blast from the past and leaving a smaller environmental footprint. Not everything needs to be new for me to appreciate and/or enjoy it. Plus, I save money! Win/ win!