Today I found ‘Musical Wishes Blog’, and got distracted by her post: “The Monster Inside”
Which is a post about her parents relationship, and her worries that she will follow in her mothers footsteps.
That’s how I feel about my own mother, and sometimes I get really worried when I think I’m acting like her.
Even though my mother wasn’t frightening to me like hers was for her, I understand, on a very visceral level, what it’s like to feel that worry, and have questions like she does.
So I wanted to answer some of her questions, because I feel like I have some insights that might be useful to her.
Of course these are just my answers, drawn from the things I’ve learned, and some of my own experiences.
She begins “I’ve been contemplating the art of relationships lately.” and then asks her first question.
Q: “Where exactly is it that we receive our foundations for them?”
In all aspects of life, we learn from everything we see, hear, and experience. This is no different.
We do learn from our parents. We also learn from strangers, we learn from friends & peers, we learn from adults we were around as children, we learn from those we admire, and we learn a hell of a lot from the people we are around the most.
The human brain loves repetition, it likes to treat anything it sees or hears often enough (which is claimed to be true) as the truth, regardless of the actual veracity of said thing.
This repetition is the reason we learn the most from our parents, we are around them so much, that their ways of handling things are what we have the most exposure to.
The best way to circumvent that is only easily applied as an adult, and that is to scrutinize things we accept as being ‘just the way it is’.
We are given examples; by our parents, and anyone else we observe, it is our choice what we do with these examples.
Follow them, mirror them (do the opposite), reject them wholesale, examine them and take what you like leave what you don’t.
Our actions, our choice.
Q: “Are we doomed to repeat our mistakes?”
We don’t have to make our parents mistakes, and we don’t have to repeat our own mistakes either.
Our actions are our own choice, and the best way to make those choices the ones we want, is to be aware of what choices we are making in the first place.
Almost every parent I have ever known has tried to skirt away from what they view as their parents worst mistakes.
When they catch themselves making a mistake they recognize, they can then stop the behaviour.
Anything we don’t think about is going to be harder to change. Change in that case will only happen by accident. But if we examine our actions, and beliefs, and the beliefs which cause actions (such as “children learn discipline from being hurt” Do they really? Or do they just learn fear?) then we can change those beliefs and those actions, by choice.
Q: “The understanding that when you meld your life with someone, you are supposed to want to spend time with them was lost on me. Never going to bed angry? I was never taught that.”
It’s okay to have not learned it, honestly I don’t think most people learned that. You know it now, and that’s more important than that you didn’t learn it then.
Not going to bed angry also isn’t the answer for everyone.
For many people though, they don’t think as well when they are tired, and may stay angry or get more angry, just because they are tired.
There is research to suggests that going to bed angry is fine, with the proviso that you commit to working things out the next day.
You could just ‘let it slide’ if it’s something neither of you actually care about it; however, if either of you do care about it, it’s best to work it out.
If it matters and one or both of your are still too mad the next morning/day, set a time and day to talk about it.
Personally I don’t like to go to bed angry. I like to talk things out until I’ve figured out where the disagreement happened and why, and what I can do to work on it going forward. My partner doesn’t, because he feels like he needs time and space to think about issues and doesn’t think well while talking.
So we compromise, we talk until he’s too tired or fed up, and then we try again the next day. Or we agree that we’ll come back to it another time.
Statement: “It never occurred to me at that young age that survival of the fittest was to be practiced in all walks of life.”
I want to address this.
The saying ‘survival of the fittest’ is a vastly misunderstood phrase. It’s actually not a phrase concerning biological evolution, but instead stems from so called “social darwinism” (Which has exactly nothing to do with Darwin the biologist or his theory of evolution.)
In reality evolution is ‘survival of all those which can survive’. Survival is a bare minimum thing, it doesn’t require prowess, it just requires life. Not the strongest, or the fastest, or the most cunning. Just anything that can live.
That, just living because one can, actually is true in all aspects of life, and sometimes ‘surviving’ is all we can do.
We should strive beyond that as much as possible, but life is not a contest; we have to live for ourselves and learn for ourselves.
—- I’m sure that’s not what you meant when you used that phrase, but it always feels like a bit of a gut punch to me when I read a person discouraged and using that phrase, which is designed to discourage. Invented by racist/elitist schmucks who wanted many people to feel like they’d never be on equal footing and that, that’s the way life is “supposed to be”, it’s not, and they were wrong. —-
The BIG Question: “Still, I can’t help but wonder as I steer my relation ship across the vast sea of possibilities, am I ever going to turn into her?”
Short Answer: You are you.
Longer answer: Even if you develop some of your mothers behaviours you will always be yourself.
If you are ‘a you’ with behaviours you don’t like, it will be in your power to change that.
You will never not be you, and you will never be your mother.
If you develop patterns/behaviours/habits that are like her, you can decide to break those habits, not enact those behaviours, and remove those patterns. Having them in the first place, does not mean you ‘are becoming her’. It means you were raised by/around her and you learned stuff from her. That’s okay.
Your desire not to be like her (/’be her’) will help prevent you from developing her habits or making choices like her, because when you notice ‘mother habits’ you are likely to squish them.
How you handle them IF you develop any of them, or discover them, is entirely your choice.
She made her choices, you get to make yours.
There is no monster waiting to eat you from the inside. There are bad habits, bad behaviours, and shitty choices. You don’t have to make those habits, or keep any of those behaviours. If you make a shitty choice, you can avow yourself to never make it again and move forward, something your mother did not do.
Your mother isn’t a monster, even if her actions made her seem monstrous, she’s just a person. A person who made mistakes.
You will never be a monster, and you don’t have to be anything like your mother if you don’t want to be.
It’s important to ask these questions, especially if seeking the answers can help dispel worries. I hope maybe this made you feel better.
Take care, and examine everything; those monsters may just be shadows.