Article by Wendy McCance
When I was a little girl, I remember my dad telling me to enjoy being a kid. He said it would be the best time of my life. He also said he wished he knew that himself so that he would have appreciated it more when he was young.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that being a kid was so great. I came from a particularly strict family and was used to hearing the word no many more times than yes was ever said. As a kid, I couldn’t wait to be in charge of what time I went to sleep, what I decided to eat, who I felt like playing with, not getting hassled if I just wanted some time to myself and the ability to pick out clothes, shoes and items for my room that represented my own personality.
My parents were so good at letting me know what was expected of me that I lost sight of the things that I felt mattered. After awhile, I couldn’t tell if I made a decision based on how I felt, or how I was expected to feel. Let’s just say, I grew up confused and out of touch with who I was or what I wanted to be.
When I turned eighteen, I left home. honestly I tried a year before graduating, but options were scarce and I knew that graduating high school would save me from a life with little to no income.
By the time I was in my early 20’s, I had done all the wild things my parents were afraid I would do. I did those things because I just had to know why it was such a big deal. I had been blamed for doing bad things all through high school, but never did anything more than coming in a few minutes late from curfew (tried to make it on time, but it’s difficult when you aren’t the driver). Even so, calls had been monitored, my purse and drawers were gone through continuously and I was accused of things like being pregnant. I had never dated (I wasn’t allowed to until I was 16). If I went out, my parents would contact the other parents and make sure an adult would be with us at all times.
Staying out till all hours, partying with the local bands, and drinking was about the worst of it when I finally let loose. Even though I tried to be wild, I just wasn’t cut out for shocking stuff like sleeping around or doing drugs. After a few years of an honest attempt at being a bad kid, I settled down and took a good hard look at what I wanted in life.
My mom spent a few years trying to intervene when I first moved out. My dad on the other hand, didn’t really reach out. I was relieved to be away from my parents and was able to avoid them for the most part those first years away from home. It was when I began questioning my life as an adult and tried to let my mom in that things fell apart again.
I ended up having a panic attack and begged to go to the hospital. My mom just looked at me like I was being dramatic. I had fallen apart because she had outlined what I would do from there on out. I couldn’t find my own voice and began to cry when I realized I had no idea what I personally felt and didn’t like feeling like a puppet. I thought I was losing my mind, hence begging to go to the hospital. I was 24 years old.
The next few days I began to realize that my mom controlled me and my dad was absent from my life. Both parents gave me little comfort or stability. I knew that if I was to make it in life, I better figure out who I am was on my own and forget about relying on or trusting others. I didn’t want to get mixed up with people who had their own agenda and back then, I couldn’t see what people were really up to. I was too trusting and got burned a lot.
I am now in my mid 40’s. I have had some incredible high’s and some terrible low’s. I have overcome major obstacles and I hear my own voice loud and clear. My relationship with my parents is about as close as those neighbors down the street that you wave at and on occassion when you are out for a walk, stop by and talk about the weather if they happen to be outside as well.
I have realized that a big trigger has to do with my health. When my health is not terrific, I fall apart with fear. I fear I won’t be able to take care of myself. I dread thinking that someone else might end up taking care of me. It’s not about being a burden as much as not having personal control. I know 100% that I will be fine if I can count on myself. It’s when my health gets shaky, I panic. I get scared that my time creating the life I want is nearing a place I don’t ever want to be. The panic turns into depression and then I become lost. I lose my voice, my ability to write and my creative way of thinking. Life becomes very bland and I feel like I am doing a countdown to my own burial.
At this point, I know that I am in the throes of intense depression. It’s easy to spent full days in pj’s, reading, watching shows and doing the minimal running around to get the kids to their activities. Cleaning the house gets tackled for about half an hour per day (if I am feeling extra motivated). This is no way for the kids to see their own mother and I have incredible guilt that they are seeing me when I’m far from my best.
Thankfully the kids have been busy, they know I have been having health issues and they seem okay with me going through a bad spell. We talk a lot about good and bad moments and what can be done to move past the bad and reclaim the good. On the advice of one of my daughters, I am pushing myself to write to get my thoughts out while doing what I love best. She’s a smart girl, it has helped a bit.
I wonder what the future will be like. Eventually the kids will be living their own lives and I will be back to being that kid in my 20’s who can decide how long to stay out, what to eat without worrying about making full meals for the family and what I would like to do with my days. Will I become a hermit who has a studio tucked away up north behind a small farm house? Will I spend my days with music playing while I write or paint or do something equally as creative? Maybe I will stay in the home I am in now. My days filled with lunches with the woman who have also become freed up from the responsibilities of children. I will shop and explore and take many trips to see as much of the world as I can.
Five years is all I have left until the shift begins. My youngest will be on their way to college. I hope that I am ready for it and know what I want to do right out of the gate. Only time will tell.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
Latest posts by Wendy McCance (see all)
- The Elusiveness Of Money - September 9, 2016
- The Challenges of Being an Older Woman - September 9, 2016
- When All the Pieces Fall Into Place - September 2, 2016
I completely relate to this post. Although I didn’t have super restrictive parents, somewhere along my journey I have lost myself. My children are in school and I feel I completely missed out on enjoying when they were young. And my health is not good either, so I feel even more guilty that I can’t be the mother I want to be. Marriage is “eh” and nothing seems right for me now. It feels good to know there are other woman who struggle with this too.
Thanks so much for commenting. I wish you the very best and hope your health improves too!!
Oh, Wendy, my heart goes out to you. Life seems to catch up with us, I know, and with health issues on top of it can make it especially hard. I’m glad you’re writing and pouring your heart out. It’s a way of finding yourself.
I can’t imagine what it was like with strict parents in the way you talked. Mine were strict but just the opposite. Oh, they were loving and tried to do their best but were disengaged most of the time when it came to my sister and I. They had their own issues and were caught up in that in their own world. I’m thankful they weren’t abusive or addicted but, still, there was much I missed. Even though they were there with us in body they didn’t make themselves available for what was going on with us.
It’s hard to explain and I can understand what your working through and processing. I’ve forgiven them and a lot of stuff in my childhood. I think I’ve learned that I signed up for that when I came into this life so I could learn some things I, otherwise, wouldn’t have learned like compassion, value of connection and forgiveness. I’m still working on the baggage I’ve chosen to imprint myself with. It’s my responsibility and, like you in your body, I can see where it’s shone up in my eyesight. I’m getting better at understanding and embracing it for what it is.
I want to leave you with this with the hope it will lift you up today and make you feel loved and valuable — for you are, you know. Sending you love and hugs. 🙂
Thanks Pat. You always share so much and it is so very appreciated. I am still struggling with getting back to writing and so I have been just letting out anything that comes into my head. I am at a decent place with my parents myself. I learned long ago that letting go of pain, anger, regret, envy etc… is what make s you a better person. Holding on to any bad feelings only rots your soul. My kids have a fairly good relationship with their grandpapernts and that really helped mend my own heart. Take care and thanks for sharing some of your wisdom. 🙂
You’re welcome, Wendy, and I’m glad you’re in a good place with your parents and have let go of a lot of that stuff. I agree in that holding on only rots your soul. Have a great week and be well. 🙂
Thanks, you too. 🙂