As a mother, a wife and even just a person I sit and ponder on who I am or why I am the way I am. I feel that I am a good person. I am a people pleaser and try to ensure everyone is always happy in one form or another and they have whatever they need even if It sacrifices my needs or wants. I’m okay with that though because its what I want to do for the people I love.
Sometimes without thought, it starts to break me down and bring me into a dark place. I find that a couple times a year I sink into a depression that feels almost impossible to crawl out of. I shut down and start to lose sight of my purpose and feel alone. This is never good for anyone but selfishly I feel like it is the worst for me.
Holidays are huge for me. I didn’t have terrible holidays growing up. I mean we had a turkey and the full spread for Thanksgiving and we had a tree with presents under it on Christmas morning. It was always a couple nights before the holiday that was bad.
With Thanksgiving Eve being the biggest drinking night of the year or all the holiday parties leading up to Christmas it was a no-brainer that my parents would be celebrating early and hard. I remember the chaos leading up to the holidays whether it was having to go with my mother to bail my stepfather out of jail on Thanksgiving Day or mom walking around in pain from the fight they had on Christmas Eve after leaving a family get together and it was never a happy time.
I always imagined that when I was an adult, I would have a beautiful home, a big family, and the best spread for all to enjoy. Everyone would get something that they really wanted, and the home would be filled with love and celebration. Now being an adult, I have a beautiful home, the family and some pretty big holidays, but subconsciously I believe I go into my dark place out of habit.
I have started to realize that when I revert, seclude and start drowning in my depression it is typically associated with my previous life. Getting your mind to understand and process that 20 yrs later this is no longer your life seems unattainable which is what has brought me to what I really wanted to discuss this week: learned behavior.
Learned behavior is something that you witness and learn from your environment. You can seek a deeper definition of it, but this is the simple definition. Some consider it your morals and conscious but for someone who was raised around addiction, abuse, or traumatic experiences it is so much more.
There are people who never think about this or identify where their behavior or reactions all stemmed from. But if you sit there and think about what you witnessed and seen growing up, how your parents handled stress, sadness or even happiness and think about how you handle these things you will be able to see a mirror image or you will see that you maybe are an extreme opposite side of the spectrum or maybe you just fall somewhere in between.
For me, I am a mirror image of one or both of my parents in some situations and others I am an EXTREME opposite. When it comes to stress, I react the way I witnessed my parents react. I will lash out at the ones I love even though it has nothing to do with them. When my parents were stressed or going through tough times everyone around them felt it. They would scream and have an attitude until they were able to process and move on.
My parents also turned to drugs when they could not process which was more often than not. I am the EXTREME opposite. I am very judgmental when it comes to hiding behind your high or intoxication, while the rest of us must learn to process reality. I witnessed everything I didn’t want to be well witnessing the coping mechanisms of my parents. This to me is never the answer and creates more problems then fixing them, your reality will always be waiting for you when you sober up.
Trust, phew this is a tough one. Because of the things I witnessed and being a product of a toxic environment, I very quickly learned that I was alone and could not trust anyone to not hurt me. I mean my parents loved me more then anyone else could have, right? They hurt me, they lied to me, they abused me in one form or another so why would everyone else not do the same? When the song came out by Kelly Clarkson Because of You, all I could think about was my mother if that gives you a glimpse into my trust issues.
There are so many learned behaviors, but these are a couple for me. They are an everyday struggle to try to suppress, retrain and overcome. Yet, I see that my oldest has started to pick up on some of my learned behaviors as her own and that is what hit home for me and made me recognize more of what I am projecting and teaching her. I could tell her all day to trust until given a reason not to, but she sees that I do not trust very often, and she has adopted that as the normal way of life. She has some crazy outburst when passionate and trying to tell her that she doesn’t need to talk to people like that or act that way makes me feel like a hypocrite as she witnesses her mother being a force to be reckoned with in many cases.
As we all want our children to go out into the world strong and be who they are and exceed who we are or could imagine being, we need to recognize that we instill these changes in them with our actions and not so much our words. So, as I sit and have my heart to hearts with my children which is something I did not have myself, I have learned that my words stick about 40% but my actions every day have provided them with a chip on their shoulder that is not theirs but is mine.