Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nature vs Nurture. is loneliness my nature or was I nurtured into being this way?

My mom and I had the pleasure of babysitting my niece last night. A little bundle of fun! No joke, this kid did not shed one tear from last night and on through when she was picked up after 1pm today. She's a happy little girl. I can't even be sad when she's around.

My mom laid her down to sleep between us on the couch. We'd watch her randomly not realizing we were smiling as we did. (We haven't had a baby around 

"That was you." She said as she gazed at the baby (okay, she's like 1yr 3mth) with bubbly pink hearts gushing out her eyes like a cartoon. "And I was the same way with you." (Showering her with love and affection, and attention.)

"Hah. I wasn't nearly as cute and happy as this little baby." was my reply. I was serious, I can't imagine (1) that I was actually a happy baby, I've been miserable for so long the concept is out of my reach. And (2) and miserable little FAT baby is not cute. And I was a Fatso even as a baby. 

Mom scoffed, "Yes you were! You were just as happy and cute, and I think you even had the same little lips as her." 

"I doubt that."

"You were. And being with Bre reminds me of how it was playing with you. And when I see Sis with her, and how much she adores her, I know what she feels because that's how I felt with you."

It makes sense the things that I yearn for and have been without for so many years. I was happy and showered with love, affection, and attention. But then my mom was a single mom trying to get in all the hours at work she could to make the bills. She came home exhausted. My cousin (we'll call him Trouble) whom she had guardianship over at the time was a little hellion; he wanted to go back with his druggie Mom. Sis was a social butterfly getting into trouble that pretty little social butterflies do. And then there was me, this little needy thing always begging for attention, affection, and love.

I remember asking my mom to play and she would say she was too tired. I would draw her pictures and show her and she would say that's nice and brush me away. I would try and cuddle with her and she would say it's hot and push me away or "stop hanging on me." 

During the week I come home to an empty house, I would be in trouble if I didn't call her. If she called during the day and I didn't answer I would get in trouble. I was alone, with only the TV to keep me company. There was rarely any ready to eat food in the house, there was diet food that I was forbidden to touch (because it's expensive) but no healthy food, or at least I never knew about it. I would call my mom at work constantly asking if she was coming home yet "I'm huuuuuungry!" Even when we were together for a whole day I would get hungry way before she would.  I would be starving by the time we would eat.

I would spend the weekends at my aunts with my cousins, one would be playing softball tournaments and the other would be alternating between playing with me and being cruel just to see me crying. She was jealous because I was the baby of the family. She told me one year at christmas, "Before you were born I used to get the most presents." I just wanted my mom. On the weekends. During the week. 

When she's had a bad day she wouldn't want to pay me attention. When she would come home from work I'd never know what to expect. I guess I finally got tired of expecting a loving mom, I became the moody one. Really, it started when I was no longer allowed to go to my best friends house or be friends with her, really. She was two years older than me and "too mature," my mom didn't want me to get into boys. So instead of going to her house, I was basically on house arrest!

It was hard for me to make new friends. I was a spoiled and angry kid, of course, at the time, I didn't know this. And, the friends I did try and have, thier parents would have to do all the work of picking up and dropping off. We couldn't play at my house since nobody was ever home... I was basically a nuisance. Even soccer and softball practices and games, I would rely on other parents to pick me up and drop me off. I hated it. I wanted my mom to be like their moms... there, with me. 

When I was with her she would lecture me about behaving and blah, blah, blah.... afterwords she would say how other little girls were so good, pretty, and blah, blah, blah. I hated those girls. I wanted my mom to see me in that light. Acting out was counter productive. I tried. I was a brat, I threw tantrums, had random outbursts, and all it got me was the silent treatment and sent to the confines of my room.

I understand why she did it. She was doing the best she could. She was trying to provide for our family (work), she stressed constantly (work, bills, family, me & sis), and keep her sanity through it all (going away with her boyfriend). She was exhausted and stressed. I understand but... I can't help but feel the way I do because those were the years that I was learning and growing. Those were the years that shaped me into the person that I am today. This person that I hate, that I can't stand to look at in the mirror or in pictures.

I love my mom. Our relationship is obviously a lot different than when I was a girl. Our living situation is a lot different than when I was growing up. But those feelings of loneliness and isolation, that yearning to be loved, get attention, and have affection and NOT getting it stays with me. I'm used to that yearning. The minute I get a little more than I am used to I retreat, I don't know what to do, I don't know how to return it. 

I realized when I was diagnosed with Lupus how negative I am. I started seeing life differently. I wanted to be a positive person. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be enlightened.

I wanted to be happy.

I was 20 years old, I started changing through the knowledge I'd gained. My perspective was changing but the baggage of my life was still with me. My past is still with me. Including a newly formed eating disorder. I think maybe that's when I realized how rock bottom I had gotten. I smoked, I drank, I quit those and became obsessed with dieting, health, and losing weight. Then one day one slice of pizza changed it all. I couldn't deal with the guilt.

I knew, for sure, there was something terribly wrong with me that day. 

I started to seek out other perspectives. Surely, if I found out how to be happy then I would be okay. I started listening to spiritual teachers, some "kooks" but I decided I would give them a little credit. We all have our different perspectives, beliefs, and realities, why not give theirs a listen and take what I like and discard the rest. how there is negativity in the words all around me. In the teasing, the sarcasm... everything.

Then one day, some random spiritual guru was being interviewed in a radio show I was listening to and he said something along the lines of, if you are unhappy than you are on the wrong path. Like basically, you're spirit is telling you through this negative feeling within that you are not doing what you came to do on this Earth. And I started balling, I left for home in the middle of work and cried for 3 days.

I had every intention of quitting my job but I chickened out and continued on in this life... years later I am in a deep depression with suicidal thoughts. 24-25 years ago I was a happy little baby basking in love, affection, and attention; how far I've fallen.

In classes there is the constant topic of nature versus nurture. I believe "nurture" has a lot to do with my personality. Misery does not feel natural, but it does feel normal. When I'm smiling and laughing with friends that feels natural. I feel free.

Those times that I feel free and happy are 9 times out of 10 AWAY from my family. I cringed at the negativity in their words. I can hear all the criticisms I've heard about each of us. I can see the irritation they try and hide at certain habits of the person they are talking to. I can see all of their flaws magnified. I know too much about them. I've heard too much about them. I don't even want to imagine what they say about me. When I'm around my family I am more quiet and true smiles are sparse. i feel like a nuisance. I imagine all the ways that they will criticize me in conversations later.

But I don't know how to make friends and keep them. I am constantly isolating myself because it's safe. If nobody sees me then they can't criticize me.  (Actually they can and will, but lonely is my norm so it is what I retreat to.) I hate rejection so I reject the world. 

Has my "nurture" masked my "nature"? Paralyzed me from thriving in the world (or stepping outside, at least)? I was once a happy baby and then I was rejected and alone for years.

Whatever. Can I get a do over?


  1. Hm, it is quite a facinating idea, isn't it? I think both nature and nurture play a role. I do believe, however, that you can be whoever you want to be.

  2. Damn, damn, damn. It's so hard, isn't it? To let go of learned behaviors, and the responses we've acquired due to circumstances beyond our control...but I think it's possible to do.

    To stop at the junction of those two roads (oh, shit! less travelled?! SCARY), decide which one feels like home and which one feels like an adventure, then fuck the one that feels like home.

    Discomfort can be a prime sign of growth, the way creatures with exoskeletons become restricted in their movement until their old skeletons split, freeing their new selves. And those new selves are soft and vulnerable (SCARY!) but thriving, not just surviving.

    UM, that analogy is making me crave some thai food. Sup, wifey Z? you bring the wine, I'll bring the soft shell crab.

  3. It's creepy how much your childhood reminds me of mine. Mum worked and also liked to party, so I was also raised by the tv and left alone most of the time. Ended up hanging out with the "wrong" people and getting into sex, drugs, rock and roll, and explosives.

    Life has backed you to the very edge of darkness, and the only way to get out is to just jump. It's terrifying, but it's doable. And almost like a do-over. If a psycho like myself can overcome depression and years of built-up rage to better myself and do what actually makes ME happy, then you can do it too! :)

    And like Kazehana said, go with the adventurous path. Embrace the fear! You can do anything and be anything you want. The world is your oyster, or something like that.


  4. Sadly, I'm doing this to my son. He is happy and affectionate and wonderful in every way, but I'm so emotionally drained from fighting with E that I honestly feel I have nothing to give to him at the end of the day. I am going to make every effort to be a more attentive mom, he deserves to be shown affection and appreciation more than anything.

    Thank you for posting this & helping to open my eyes, but I do believe kazehana is right - we have choices to make as adults and while they are difficult (seemingly impossible) changes, they are also necessities to our survival. Her analogy fits, the alternative to freeing your new self, is to wither up and die. (I'm making my own huge change on nothing more than faith that everything will be better)

    good luck, & all my love while you figure your way in this world

  5. Your childhood reminds me so much of mine. Even though my parents are still married, some things just hit me. Both my parents worked and was never home so I was also basically left to be raised with the TV.

    Just wanted to say, you are an amazing writer.


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