Breaking my own rules.

I need to find out exactly what bothers me and investigate it. It’s not enough to just register what I don’t like and judge it as bad. That’s too simplistic. I am an intelligent, wise person. There is a reason for everything I say to myself. All thoughts come from somewhere.

Yesterday I remembered a photo of my family sitting at a picnic table at a company sponsored event. I have no memory of the event itself but just seeing my family alone at this table spoke volumes about how I was brought up. My mother judged everyone according to a rigid value system that only she understood. As far as I know, nobody we came in contact with ever met her standards of acceptability.

She grew up with an alcoholic father who subjected her to horrific beatings because he was angry. As she could not hate him, she started hating everybody else. Her early abuse turned her into a punisher. For the rest of her life, she punished everyone close to her for the abuse that had been so unfairly inflicted on her. And I inherited this pattern, I want to punish people too. I unconsciously learned how to do this from her.

Children don’t understand why their parents act the way they do. Nor can they evaluate whether something is right or wrong. It is only when one becomes an adult that these childhood patterns can be taken apart and investigated. My mother had to build protective armor around herself to survive and I have this armor around me as well. But do I still need it? Did I ever need it? How many people have I punished who did nothing to deserve it?

I am starting to realize that there is a big difference between standing my ground as an individual vs. policing others. If I know myself and care about myself, I will make my feelings clear and defend what I think are my rights. This is different from having a lot of rules in my head that everybody has to obey in order to make me feel good.

There was noise in the house last night, mostly from people talking loudly. Instead of getting upset about it, I gave them permission to do whatever they were doing. I gave up on policing the noise level in the house and just shut my door and stayed in my room. When one of the women turned on a fan to high this morning, I went out and changed it to low. She did what she wanted – and then I did what I wanted.

If I get overly attached to my rules, I am going to alienate the people around me. As we live in a shared space, no one person can make the rules for everyone else. Since this is not a monastery, I cannot impose my monastic silence on uber extroverts. I am here for a reason and this reason is not to be liked by others, but rather to like myself “while among others.” Can I coexist in an environment where other people don’t have to play by my rules or even acknowledge them? Can I break the rules within myself?

She will know whose name is on that anger and not require an innocent person to atone for the crimes once committed against her by others. ~ Breaking Down the Wall of Silence, Alice Miller.


10 thoughts on “Breaking my own rules.

  1. yes, it all comes from somewhere… and somewhere deep and still reverberating as though it happended yesterday… or today… or this hour.
    i have often wanted to leave you comments, replies,
    ( “thank you’s” often) about what you write and share. but there is a subtle feeling that you won’t like what i write or will be angered by it. so i remain silent. if this comes from your mother, it is then hard to mother yourself or anyone else. judgement is the coin of the realm.
    i AM grateful for your story and your bravery however.


    1. Thanks for the feedback. It is rare that a comment makes me angry, but in general, I do think of this blog as my space and will respond accordingly. While it is hard to mother myself, I think I seek out mothering from others, which is not always appropriate.


  2. Your life sounds mentally exhausting. It feels like you need an outlet for your (very justifiable) anger, either a therapist or something physical. You’ve chosen to put yourself in a situation that is now causing inner turmoil. For what purpose? Maybe it’s not a fit…move on. You have nothing to prove. You deserve peace in your life. You’ve more than paid your dues. At some point, I hope you are able to forgive your mother and yourself. You both did what you knew because you didn’t know any different. Now you do. I know how hard it is…


    1. I am still looking at condos and do not see this current living situation as permanent. I guess that after 21 years of living alone, I wanted to experience something different for awhile. It has been insightful. Thanks for your thoughts.


  3. “I am here for a reason and this reason is not to be liked by others, but rather to like myself “while among others.”” Wow. Yup. I’m 60 and I’m still trying to get this one right. Liking myself while among others. While thinking about it though I discovered it required a “me against the world” posture. “I’m going to like myself even if no one else does” kind of thing. Not sure I want to take that approach. There’s got to be some way of allowing both me and the other, lovingly, to be who we are.


  4. I can’t but feel very sorry for your mother and all she suffered. You’re right that we don’t understand a lot about our parents until we are grown-up and there are many things we probably never understand.

    I like the idea that you are challenging yourself ~ (I know that’s not the point whether I like it or not).


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