Pedestals & Perfectionism

Three photos 'stitched' together become one. Copyright, 2016, Peggy Ann Rowe.

Three photos ‘stitched’ together become one. Copyright, 2016, Peggy Ann Rowe.

November 5, 2015, The day my Uncle Marvin breathed his last breath… The eldest of 8 children, Today, only Jim & Richard are alive.  The scary part, is that I am, now,  number three on the list of the eldest in our little branch of the family.  A place I knew I’d get to because I am the eldest grandchild on both maternal and paternal side of the family.  Not something that I particularly want.  It just is.

As one gets older, or maybe I should say as I get older, I have become more of a leader, a kind of go to person when someone younger needs help, etc.  That part is ok, so long as I’m allowed to say, I make mistakes, and can occasionally give bad advice.  Any advice given is usually sent via good intentions (I heard once someone paved a road to hell? Good Intentions?)–and a good heart.  

The bottom line is I am a really good person who has a tendency to try too hard to do the right thing, and when I screw up, I do it rather well, and large. It is usually memorable to those around me for whatever the reasons. It doesn’t stop me from trying to do what is right.

My bottom line is always INTEGRITY.  I’ve been told many times in my life that I am too honest for my own good.  Maybe for other’s own good too.  But don’t lie where I can hear it and have to store it, and protect you from it.  I can’t, I won’t– for the most part, I don’t lie.  I might exaggerate a little to help a good story be better–I love getting laughs.  But, I do not intentionally lie. It doesn’t work for me.  One lie turns into another, the stories that have to be woven to protect yourself from yourself and the webs created in the false story is too much for me to keep straight.  

BE true to yourself–just keep to the truth!  Falsehoods no matter how small send a message that ultimately the receiver gets… and I mean, even if it’s a little under the radar, the receiver knows in his/her heart of hearts that:

  1. You have mis-stated the facts.
  2. You are an insecure person.  
  3. You are vulnerable in ways that you’d never admit even to yourself.   

And that makes you:

  1. Easy to manipulate and take advantage of.
  2. A TARGET.
  3. Someone who is not trusted, nor taken seriously.  

I know this why?  I know this because I watched while my ex father-in-law make fun of my ex’s grandmother.  “She’s told so many lies she doesn’t know the truth anymore.”  The truth is, she couldn’t have told the truth if her life depended on it.  Why, I’ll never know, but I suspect some sort of genetically based condition that children and grandchildren can pass on and inherit.  And the main reason, I’m way ok with my kids, NOT having kids.  This grandmother lied over things so small that there was no reason to lie about them.  

This grandmother shot a gun in her daughter’s general direction.  I do not know what her intentions were.  I do know that my ex mother-in-law had a huge scar on her head, and she had to part her hair to the side to hide the scar. I do know that the grandmother spent time in a mental hospital afterward.  This grandmother gave birth to several children, and at least one son was bi-polar.  This has been verified by a sister of the grandmother, and a child of said grandmother. My son has inherited, as in diagnosed, bipolar with psychosis, this along with PTSD.  He has also been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, something that can be “fixed” if the person diagnosed is willing to work with therapists and themselves. I found it interesting that one of the things that is a sign of this borderline personality disorder thing, is that they have a tendency to put people up on pedestals, and make them their hero’s and then without warning, usually with a lack of rational thought, they become very angry and pull their “hero” off the rack, ahem, ok the pedestal.

I’m really glad to be down (again)…..

I never could live with what people thought I could do.

As a kid my parents thought that I would be the first in the family to go to college…. I was the wallflower who got good grades, and was very well behaved… it puts a lot of pressure on a kid when they think they have to be perfect.  

My first husband made it clear that I was “his” angel.  That I was worshipped. Of course, this was in between, in front of, in back of, intertwined with, wrestling games where I ended up in tears, and I got broken teeth, and of course, many, many bruises were left behind.   How was it that I could be an angel whilst being his “empty headed plaything?”  I kind of thought, an angel implied a bit of a brain, excuse my lack of education.  My fall from grace in this particular situation was after I filed for divorce, and after I actually left when suddenly I went from perfect in his eyes to being mentally ill, multiple personalities, dangerous, and a liar.   I’ve been very amused after the fall out to realize what striking changes I could make all while falling just a few imaginary feet. 

I had a girlfriend, whom in her eyes I could never do any wrong.  I tried to live up to her vision of what she thought I was.  All the while, I continued on experimenting with my life, and ideas and trying to figure out just who and what I wanted to be.  The problem with this ‘friend’ is that she really never knew me, and just how liberal minded I could be.  If she had really known me, she’d expected the behavior that has caused her to “never speak to me again.”  I never claimed to be an angel, I did try to communicate the ideas I was toying with, And I did see her manipulate those around her to try and bend personalities into the position she wanted them in.  The manipulations included trying to commit suicide (I think) for attention, so boyfriend would not go away. Attempted so many times, that the last time I went to check on her, I refused…and I told her later, that someone else would find her cold dead body, I was done with the game.  Obviously it wasn’t keeping him in the place she wanted.  When you fall from the good graces of such a person, just how bad off are you anyway??  I fell, I lost, and thank God, I am FREE!!!

I’ve tried to be open and honest with my children. At least as open and honest as a parent can be with their kids.  It is my firm belief that there are things that our kids don’t need to know about us.  It is also my firm belief that I have had boundary issues over the years, and I have shared details too loosely and too often.  Always done with good intentions, and with the goal of education.  Doesn’t necessarily make it right, nor does it have the intended effect.  All I can say is:  I tried.

I never asked to be anyone’s hero.  I never asked to be anyone’s sounding board.  With my kids I try to use patience, the older I get the better I get, with the ability to hold my tongue and just listen.  Most the time, that is really what they need, to be heard–I just sit and listen, and nod my head and affirm.  If I sense that more is needed I try to be judicious in my verbal lessons.  But, I can write all the best words, and make myself sound like perfection in parenthood, and let me assure you, I am nowhere near…

So, I fell a few imaginary feet… off my pedestal.  And I’m not even sure just exactly what I did to cause the tossing, but I sure did.  Then, I topped it off with a good healthy dose of protectionism (which doesn’t work with Capitalism either), and not quite understanding.  Literally, I don’t get what I did so wrong, and now I’m being accused of things that I have never done, and it’s all so nasty that I can’t fathom it.  Except to say that our little family is dysfunctional–and that fact was never hidden, never excused, never denied. It is just a fact of life, that I have tried with all my might to outgrow.  Ugh…

What hurt wasn’t the hitting the ground, though it was a fairly loud thump when I hit.  It wasn’t the actual act that caused the slip of the footing, I was never on top in any way that could be described as ‘secure’.  It is, after all, a very precarious place to be.  I for one, hate looking down, because I am so used to looking up.  Looking down just reminds me that the world is a terribly scary place.  What hurt the most was the profound and utter lack of understanding just WHY it was happening.  I still don’t get it.  So, I can not give you a straight answer as to WHY this has happened.  I’ve asked, and only received angry answers that did not answer *MY* simple question: WHY?

Addendum, August 2016: This piece is dedicated to my two oldest children: Makkie & Janea. Touché, the more things change, the more they forever stay the same!! & Alas, Only my uncle Richard is alive.  Now, I am elder #2! The climb is up, whilst I fall down.