You know growing up I never had any of those lessons. My dad was always at work and didn't have the time to really sit down with me and talk to me as much as he wanted to. I never blamed him for that or felt any resentment for that. I knew he was doing what he had to do. My mom taught me what she could but I don't think they really knew how to help me.
When I was in 1st grade kids picked on me a lot. I never really knew why and I don't think the other kids did either. I just became the target of ridicule over anything. My parents always told me not to fight back and to just ignore them. So that's what I did. I remember taking a liking to this one little girl. That was a mistake because then I became "that kid no one liked." Finally after 2nd grade I just shut down. I didn't speak in school for the longest time. So much so that kids actually said they forgot what my voice sounded like. And this continued all the way through middle school. In middle school things got worse. I started getting physically attacked. We went to the school officials but all they wanted to do was say "play nice now" because the people that kept attacking me were football players and that's a big deal in my little town.
Half way through middle school we moved around a bit and finally settled down in north carolina at the start of highschool. By this point I didn't even bother telling my parents about the things going on in school. I had dived into online gaming and that was my escape from the world. I was accepted in that community. But in high school the physical attacks continued because I stuck out more so than at my previous schools. I was punched a few times and pushed and even had a few kids stick their bare asses in my face. I finally got tired of it and started to fight back. Mostly by making them think I was crazy by posting a bunch of pictures on myspace with the array of firearms that we had at the time. Worked fairly well too.
Going through all of this though my dad was having a hard time at work. They were working him to death and treating him like shit. When my dad gets really stressed he drinks more. When he drinks more he has a hard time with his PTSD. My dad was a Marine in Vietnam. He did a tour over there just outside of Da Nang. If any of you know about the ending of the vietnam war a lot of soldiers and Marines got screwed by the government in the form of bad paper discharges. My dad was one of those Marines. He got discharged because of an argument he had with a drunk SGT. SGT said he threatened him and JAG scared him saying they were going to either throw him in the Brig for 6 months or he could take this discharge and walk. He took the discharge. After learning more about it he tried to appeal the decision but by that time it was too late so he moved on with his life. But that still bothers him to this day. And when he drinks he goes back to Vietnam. It is a hard thing to watch your dad outside screaming at the trees.
Then I met this girl and long story short the relationship ended really badly. When she rejected me it was like this big bottle of emotion that I had suppressed for years busted and I spent the next 5 years analyzing a decades worth of emotional and physical abuse. The emotions were so intense at first I didn't even know what to think. I do remember sitting on my bed at 7 in the morning after having not slept for 2 days because of nightmares. I was sitting there holding a loaded 9mm thinking how easy it would be that a tiny piece of metal could make all of this go away. I didn't off myself though. I kept going and after many years of not dating and focusing 100% on myself I got to the point where I was ok being me again.
However to this day I still have a hard time relaxing. After years of constantly being on guard it like I stay stuck in fight or flight mode. It isn't really paranoia but more a constant state of alertness. I can't stand for people to stand behind me and if I'm in a crowded room I tend to say with my back to the wall. If i get too uncomfortable I stay near the exits. I can't say why I do this but I have a really hard time relaxing.
I had done a couple of mental health self assessments on some mental health websites and they have all told me that I have severe anxiety and a mild case of PTSD but I don't know how true that is. Seems silly to have PTSD over something like that.
This is why I'm fortunate to have had my mother. She came from a household that had one alcoholic parent, and one insanely religious parent that was in and out of mental institutions a couple times. My mother and her 3 siblings were placed in foster care when this happened. I could write you volumes on her early life.
There was a real weird dynamic that went on though. Her father, the alcoholic, didn't become an alcoholic until she was around nine years old. He was a millwright, a very smart man, and well read. He actually taught her to read, and perhaps was instrumental in turning her into a voracious reader, which she is to this day at 67 years old. As a result, she also read book after book about psychology and parenting. She understood that knowledge is not just an automatic, and that includes how to parent. She also was determined to send me to a private school, although I was only able to attend for four or five years until my parents divorced, at which point they could no longer afford it.
See, and this isn't a slam at your mother or father.... good people make mistakes all the time, but someone like my mother is SO in tune to emotions and psychology that she would have picked up on the things you depict experiencing as you grew up, that you are experiencing now. And she would have had the exact correct way to deal with it.
The planet is full of good people, solid people full of love and good morals, that don't fully understand emotions and psychology, and these people often damage relationships. Whether it's with their own mind, with a spouse, or their own children. And it's not always this malicious, conscious, abusive intent. It just happens. You take someone who is riddled with fear, let's say, and prone to panic and anxiety. Now let them have a kid, and say that kid watches them have emotional reactions to things where there should be none. It can be as simple as... I dunno. They dropped a favorite keepsake of theirs and broke it, and in front of their child, they have this emotionally incorrect reaction. Whether it's cursing, or crying, or silence and pouting... what the child should see is this: "Well damn. That sucks. I really love that thing. So sad. Maybe I can fix it, or get a new one. If not, at least I'll have the memory of it.", followed with a smile.
I'm telling you right now, children, young children, FEED off of adult emotions and behavior. Young minds CRAVE knowledge. Ever notice this dynamic? Put two babies together on the floor. I'm not talking newborn; I mean at the age where they can sit up, crawl, hold their own things, make sounds, react to outside stimulation sort of thing. What happens? More often than not, two babies are just annoyed by each other. If there's an older child or adult in the room though, watch the baby's reaction to them. Eyes wide, drawn to them, watching our every move, listening. Why? Because they have something they can get from that person: knowledge.
So if you teach your child to do nothing when they're being attacked, they will feel like a nothing. Understand what I'm driving at? It's NOT about the fighting back, the principle of 'standing up for yourself', about the right or wrong. it's about what happens in your fucking MIND, the lesson you are taught, it's about what and who you become. EVERY single event in life, not just more important things like being bullied or picked on, but even seemingly innocuous happenings like how a parent reacts to the proverbial glass of spilled milk, teaches a child something about emotions, about how to react to emotions, about how to react to situations, what acceptable actions are, what we should accept from life and from others, and ultimately affects who that child becomes. In their own mind, in terms of what they think they are.
Again. That's not a shot at your mom. Not even close. Not a lot of people are as in tune and connected to emotions, logic, how to handle and form and conduct relationships of any kind, as my mother is.
Now. Given all that, consider this: Even with all this seemingly awesome power to understand these most important things, my mother has had periods of dark depression in her life. To this day she's sad because her father died without getting sober again, and before any chance of a reconciliation, and because she's NEVER had a connection with her mother. She's never had a close relationship with her siblings, either. One had a bad stroke when she was very young, 30 years ago, and her mind is all but gone and she lives in an assisted care home. Her other sister stopped talking to her almost 30 years ago, because ultimately she came to resent my mother's strength and success at overcoming the family dysfunction. And her brother, the oldest, is on death's door, and is also an alcoholic. They reconciled at one point around 20 years ago, and for a time were even starting a business together. Like their father, he's a very smart man when sober. He was sober at that point, was doing great, was even looking great- years younger, happier... until he fell back into the bottle. They haven't spoken now in over 15 years. He has 3 children, two of which are sociopath train wrecks, and he only speaks to one of them, and only then to bitch about and demean the other two- his own children. The one good one, the oldest, the last time he tried to reconnect with his father when his health started failing, he knocked on the door, my uncle cracked the door open, looked at my cousin, and said "Fuck off.", and slammed the door in his face. As you can imagine, all of this causes my mother a lot of sorrow. I'm sure she also has moments where perhaps she wishes her marriage would have went a different way.
So despite my mother's strength, she has in fact battled dark places in her life.
Incidentally, another part of why I know so much about this subject is not just from my mother's lessons. Of course I have my own life experiences and mistakes to draw from. But I've also been living with someone who has battled depression and self loathing issues for 25 years.
So I know full well what it means to support someone who is battling depression, and that's why I really mean what I say when I repeat that I'm not intending to demean your mother or anyone for missteps in parenting, or any other mistakes. These mistakes don't mean someone is a bad parent.
Ultimately, all you can do is accept that this shit is heavy lifting, which is what my mother and I call it... it's hard work to look straight in the mirror, consider your mistakes, consider who you are, to change what you can change, and to learn how to accept all feelings and emotions as normal and acceptable. Hard work to have conversations like this over and over again and consider these things over and over again. All this stuff I've written here? A fraction of what my mother has said to me over the years, and it was said to me over, and over, and over again. From this heavy lifting though, you then have a place to start, which is the understanding that we have to place logic and rational thought as... the... uhhm. As the sort of... completely unbiased from what your emotions want, as the... 100% unbiased tools that build what logic and reason dictate are acceptable and rational action. Sort of pretending that there is this third step between emotion and action that is almost not part of you, like this third person there that will ALWAYS tell you what the truth is and what you know is the right thing to do. Not the best thing to do. The right thing to do.
When you've done that... brother, when you've done the right thing, even when you fuck up, not if- when you fuck up, you can look in the mirror and be proud, and not be engaged in the self loathing that too many people encounter. Often believing that they DESERVE the shitty thing that happened to them, and that they don't deserve certain things. That part is a slippery slope into despair and feelings of worthlessness.
People DO deserve happiness. But it is not an automatic, and it will not just come to you, even if you're a decent good person who does good for others. You have got to believe in yourself and give to yourself.