I grew up believing that I was a mistake.
I carried around the painful idea that the world would be better off without me.
These weren’t ideas that I created on my own. They came directly from what I was told and shown by my parents.
My mom, never one to hold back when she was drunk, told me on a repeated basis that I was supposed to be an abortion. She also made it clear that there was nothing about me that wasn’t a burden.
My dad, who drank but never became violent with me, sent the message passively.
Eventually, years later, he did admit that he never wanted children.
It’s difficult for people who grow up in healthier homes to understand what it’s like to not feel wanted or loved by your parents.
The feeling is not only difficult to put into words but it’s one that can color your entire life. And if left unchecked and unacknowledged you can begin to believe that the rest of the world feels the same way about you.
Fortunately, I know I’m not the only person out there that was made to feel unwanted and worthless by the people that meant the most.
If you’re reading this right now and you can relate to what I’m talking about here, please know that you’re not alone and that you were never a mistake. This may not mean much to you coming from me but believe me when I tell you, this is what’s true.
So if our next step then is to figure out a way to move beyond these painful ideas, how do we do that?
Well, I wish I could tell you I had a quick fix solution but as I imagine you already guessed, that’s not what I’ve got for you today.
Instead, I’ve got a few ideas to share that will hopefully give you some perspective on this idea that you’re a mistake.
Now, these are ideas that I learned over the years through therapy and other self-discovery outlets. But regardless of what method of recovery you prefer, what you’re about to learn may be exactly what you need to be reminded of your worth in this world.
After you’re finished reading, I’d love to hear from you.
Do you ever feel like a mistake? Were you told that you were by a parent? How do you deal with this? Any advice or insights that you’d like to share that may help someone else in the same position?
Remember, your voice, experiences and insights are vital to this community. And what you have to share is not only unique but it may be exactly what someone else needs to read. And that someone could be you.
Until Next Tuesday,
P.S. This would be a great post to share with someone you know that could use an extra shot of love and encouragement!
#1 There Was A Them Before There Was A You
Before I was conceived, my mother really had an abortion. I’m not sure of all the details but apparently she had a brief affair that ended up with her getting pregnant by someone other than my dad.
Long before I was born, my mom was also a bipolar alcoholic and had grown up in a family rife with dysfunction, addiction and all kinds of abuse.
I’m telling you all of this to say that my mom had problems, long before I was born, that had nothing to do with me.
Maybe she didn’t plan to get pregnant with me but the fact that I was born was not a mistake, that was just her interpretation of the event based on her life and the experiences she had up until that point.
In other words, my being born maybe in some ways made her life harder but my birth wasn’t the reason her life was so miserable. That was all happening long before I was even a thought.
Of course when I was younger and my mom was telling me flat out that I was a mistake, I didn’t have all of this context to separate myself from what she was saying.
It wasn’t until I was much older and had a few years of therapy under my belt that I could see my mom as more than just my parent but as a woman who had some serious issues that were in play long before I was born.
Now this doesn’t mean that having this understanding made the pain of knowing that my mom didn’t want me go away. And it also didn’t, all of a sudden, make her behavior okay.
But what it did do was help me understand that what she was saying had nothing to do with me. And that helped me to see that even if my mother said I was mistake, that never reflected the truth. That was just a reflection of her.
Bottom line is this – understanding your parent’s context could go a long way in helping you understand that you were not the cause nor were you the solution to their problems.
Even if I never had been born, my mom would still have been an alcoholic. She would’ve still been bipolar and she would’ve still had the same dysfunctional family to deal with.
#2 What Could Your Life Look Like?
Even if you can wrap your head around the idea that your parent, the one that told you you were a mistake, had problems before you were born that doesn’t mean that knowing that they think of you as a mistake hurts any less.
There are probably numerous places in your life, whether in your relationships, your career or in how you relate to yourself that this idea has gotten in the way. Where you didn’t go after that promotion or speak up at work or you got in that shitty relationship simply because you didn’t think you were worth it. You didn’t believe you had any value because you were told early on that you didn’t.
Well I think that one way to move beyond that pain is to ask yourself what your life could look like if you didn’t have that pain. If you were never told that you were supposed to be an abortion or that you were never meant to happen, what would your life look like? What would your day look like? What would you think about? Who would your friends be? Where would you be in your career? How would you think about yourself?
I spent some time, years ago, asking myself these same questions and in the process of doing so I realized that what was holding me back, in so many areas of my life, was this belief that had been dumped in my lap by this bipolar, alcoholic woman who gave birth to me.
And that realization made me very angry. And I really had to think about whether or not I wanted to allow that to continue to get in my way. Was I going to continue to allow this outdated belief rule my life or was I going to decide that enough was enough and then do what I needed to do to move beyond it?
It’s much easier said then done and believe me I’m well aware that you can’t just decide not to hurt anymore.
But I do think that the healing process can be helped along the minute you declare, for yourself, that enough is enough. That instead of letting your mother or father or any other family member decide that you’re worthless, you’re going to get up and get out in the world and figure out what’s what for yourself.
Which leads me to right to my third and final point…
#3 Picture Yourself Sitting On A Star
For a minute I want you to imagine yourself sitting somewhere in your family’s house, ideally the house you grew up in.
It could be the living room or the kitchen, it doesn’t really matter. Just for the next few seconds imagine yourself there.
And then I want you to imagine yourself standing in the middle of your street or in the driveway in front of your childhood home.
From there, imagine yourself standing in the middle of the city you’re from. And then imagine the country you’re from and picture yourself standing in the middle of that.
Next, picture yourself standing alone on planet earth. And then imagine jumping onto some distant star and being able to look back at earth. From there you can see the sun cooking away and all of the other planets that make up our universe.
From that point of view, hanging out on a star, you wouldn’t be able to make out your state, or the road you grew up on or the house you grew up in because all of that would have become so incredibly small compared to the entirety of the universe around you, right?
By now you may be thinking, What’s the point of all this?
Well, I wanted to introduce this exercise to you, hopefully, to make this point – Your parent or parents thinking that you were a mistake does not represent the way that the rest of the world sees you. Compared to the rest of the world around you, their opinion of you becomes incredibly small.
I bring this up because this is something that I often struggle with. It’s the belief that because my mom saw me as a mistake that that means everyone else does too.
And although I’ve learned that that’s simply not true it doesn’t stop that old belief from creeping in my mind from time to time.
This may not be an idea that you can fully embrace right now but I wanted to at least try to give you some perspective.
I realize that there’s a great amount of pain attached to the realization that a parent thinks of you as a mistake. There’s a lot to process and much healing to do. But I hope that I’ve shown you that it’s possible to get to a point where you can have perspective and know that there’s life for you on the other side of the dysfunction you were born into.
As I’ve said many times before, I have no doubt that if I could get to this point in my recovery then I know that you can too.