For the first ten years of my life, I remember vividly how much I looked up to my mom.
Without my dad around, she was the authority and the only example I had of a parent and functioning adult.
She was hard-working, presumably successful and in my eyes; completely together.
Her word was gold to me and her selective approval was even sweeter.
Though it became defeating to chase what couldn’t be given and I eventually began to have negative feelings towards her, I still somehow believed she knew everything.
And not in the way where I healthily admired her but more so in a way where she knew everything and I didn’t.
As I remember my pre-teens and teenage years, …I can look back now and see where a huge source of my stress and worry came from;
Every move I made, every thought I had, every vision that I shared – it was always wrong.
There was always something wrong with it.
I didn’t think enough, I wasn’t being smart enough, I forgot to think about how it would affect her, the dreams were too big, too unrealistic — just stop Amanda.
There was never any encouragement, love or support.
Never a conversation about understanding me and honoring my self expression,
honoring the child in me who just needed to be seen and heard.
It was just destructive put down after destructive put down and I wasn’t old enough for one but also wasn’t clear or mature enough at the time to really see it.
I just took it as a sign that I wasn’t good enough.
I had more to learn.
There was always this future goal of finally being/having enough that I was chasing.
Couldn’t be happy or feel good about myself before that goal (that she set, that I’m still not clear about) was met.
Until then, I was ridiculous for wanting, dreaming or asking what else was out there.
I was surrounded by so many people who operated the same way that I didn’t really have a clue that there was another way of living.
I also wasn’t aware of how desperately my mother wanted to keep us dependent on her.
Within her projections of her own insecurities, us thinking big was way too overwhelming.
Without a second thought, she had to shut us down. It was her way of coping with her own limitations and loneliness.
It continues to be interesting now to look back and to think how much I was conditioned to believe she was the end all.
She knew everything about cars, money, people, resumes, colleges, restaurants, travel – you name it.
She created this culture where she was the dominant authority and we were just supposed to agree without question.
Even in the worst of fights, I still subconsciously believed she was right.
Even when I kept persisting with what I wanted and how I wanted it – it didn’t matter.
She knew better than me.
And would frequently pull the ‘When you’re older, you’ll understand’ bullshit.
Eventually as a young adult, living across the country – a place where she chose to follow me and told me it was my fault;
‘You couldn’t have done it without me.’
‘You’re so ungrateful for the sacrifice I made.’
It was the same thing.
I’d panic when it came to decision making!
Every dollar I made – she told me where it was going.
Every move I made – she pre-approved it.
Every thought or decision – she cosigned it before I felt somewhat sure enough to follow through.
I remember hating it but not understanding why it was happening.
I was so dependent.
And funny thing is, she would talk shit about it and make me believe that I just wasn’t grown up yet.
I couldn’t financially manage on my own and felt so much shame about it.
But the truth was — she was taking my money and using my credit cards to pay off her own shit.
I was too young and under way too much stress to understand and was supposed to be able to rely on my mother to guide me in developing my own independence – not set me up for failure and then complain I wasn’t getting my shit together.
I worked 7 days a week for years, … still struggling. What the fuck, right?
Too ashamed to ask questions, to embarrassed to look for solutions. (this was the point)
Thinking that this new life I wanted wasn’t realistic.
That I bit off more than I could chew.
I was getting older … we still lived together and it was killing me.
More shame, more doubt, more hiding and isolating because I couldn’t comprehend telling the truth.
Until … I started getting clearer.
I started understanding the reality of how much my mother needed my siblings and I to stay dependent in order to validate her own crumbling self worth.
If she had us to focus on, she could feel wanted and ultimately avoid her own pain and suffering.
She never encouraged us to think big or set us up to be independent thinkers – instead, she doubted us enough to constantly think small, to think we were nobody and then was confused when we would express we didn’t know how to do something.
We weren’t taught to rely on our own intuition.
We weren’t taught basic concepts and how-to’s.
We weren’t taught to trust ourselves and to just go for it.
To believe that our internal validation was enough.
So we went on into our lives, …searching and searching …
Living outside in.
Desperately relying on that external validation to offer us what we thought would make everything better.
If someone else says this is a good idea, then it has to be.
If someone else says I am smart, then I must be.
If an attractive person wants me, then I must be worth it.
It was crazy.
I’ll speak for myself and admit that it followed me everywhere. This need to be validated and the spiral downwards if I got the opposite reaction.
This overwhelming obsession with what people thought about what I was doing and who I was.
I was so used to being told I was wrong.
Told my thoughts were wrong, my ideas were wrong, my version of the story was wrong.
Being told to think for myself and then being brutally criticized afterwards for making that exact choice.
Leaving me to believe that I couldn’t make good choices.
So I continued living my life that way. Needing others to tell me which way to go.
I bended when it didn’t feel right, I let people walk all over me because their version had to have been the reality, — I people pleased, I said yes when I wanted to say no, —
All because of the initial dependency on my own mother.
Feeling that she was the only one who knew what was best for me.
It kept me second guessing, doubting and in this toxic cycle where I couldn’t see myself clearly.
I couldn’t see all that I’ve overcome and how strong I really was.
I couldn’t see how much I had to offer the world.
I couldn’t see how thoughtful of a person I was.
I couldn’t see how disciplined and hard-working I was and how perfect I would be for entrepreneurship.
I couldn’t see that I was getting financially taking advantage of and that I was making way more than enough to live on my own.
I spent years looking through that clouded lens.
Doing what my mother wanted me to do, being who my mother wanted me to be – even when I began to hate her and stopped talking to her completely.
I chose to be less, compromise more and never ask for what I wanted because I assumed the answer would always be no.
And then I heard the phrase, ‘Don’t take advice from people who aren’t where you want to be.
Don’t take business advice from someone who doesn’t own a business.
Don’t take money advice from someone who is broke.’
And it shook me to my core.
WHY THE FUCK DO I CARE WHAT THESE PEOPLE THINK OF ME?
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT??
Why isn’t how I think of me, … enough?
I didn’t want to be my mother. I didn’t want anything she had and I certainly didn’t want the life she was living.
So why did her opinion on anything matter to me? Why am I doing things how she thinks I should do them?
The self inquiry continued …
I realized I didn’t have anyone in my life at that point who was where I wanted to be. Or who I really admired.
I felt guilty about this but I had to accept the reality;
I was taking relationship advice from bitter women who had loveless dynamics.
I was taking skin-care advice from people who never washed their faces.
I was taking career advice from people who didn’t love what they were doing.
I was getting involved with men who just wanted to tell me what to do to feel superior.
This was a huge wake up call for me.
I was repeating the pattern.
I wasn’t being discerning enough with who I was speaking with and who I allowed entry into my biggest visions and thoughts.
I allowed people who didn’t want the best for me tell me I was too much.
I allowed people who had their own self-doubt tell me building a business was too risky.
I allowed my mother who projected her own thoughts about herself onto me, — tell me that life was always going to be hard and that your best friend is always your worst enemy.
It was all because I thought someone knew what was good for me better than I did.
I was so ready to be done with it.
I wanted to feel proud of my decision making.
I wanted to feel secure in my own thoughts.
So, I stopped, full-stopped, my life and started pulling apart this fucking on-going need for approval.
It began with shutting down my mother every single time she had a thought about me.
I didn’t care if it had to do with how I used the dryer, — I told her no and I walked away.
If I had a lesson to learn, I was going to do it on my own.
Even in friendships, which I ended up leaving some of those behind too, — I started to become more aware of how my porous boundaries of what I said, what I brought up and how I felt about myself, … really allowed certain friends at that time to run my entire program.
They were also unhappy. They so subconsciously wanted me to be unhappy too.
I grew tired of all of it, very quickly.
Things changed drastically for me and I spent close to 12 months almost entirely by myself.
I needed it.
I didn’t care how lonely I would be.
I needed to re-write my blueprint and start owning who I was.
I needed to figure out what I wanted, who I wanted to be and what was real about myself.
I figured out I wasn’t this needy, dependent and insecure girl that I always felt I was.
I was just told that by a woman who needed me to think that.
And in turn, I attracted more people who benefited from me believing it, too.
Now – life looks a lot different.
And while I enjoy feedback and seeing things from another’s point of view, I’m very clear about who I speak to and what I speak to them about.
I no longer rely on them for the green light and trust myself to make decisions.
It’s a freedom that at one point in my life, I never thought existed.
I now feel free to be think and own every part of me.
it’s expansive, sometimes nerve-wracking but really fucking empowering.
And there are days where I forget and allow someone’s verbal opinion or disapproving energy of me, to throw me off – but I’m clear enough now where I can quickly remember …
What matters is how I feel.
And if I feel good about it, I’m not hurting anyone and truly believe in what I’m saying, doing, being – than that’s enough for me.
And everyone else, including my mother can take a mother fucking back seat.
please comment and let me know what you’re experience with learned helplessness is and then please share with whoever you think may need to read this.