Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Queen for a Day

Doesn't everyone want to be treated like a Queen (or a King)? At least for one day.

There used to be a extremely sadistic TV show on that premise: women would come on the show and compete in telling a sob story - from Wikipedia:
Often the request was for medical care or therapeutic equipment to help a chronically ill child, but sometimes it was as simple as the need for a hearing aid, a new washing machine, or a refrigerator. Many women broke down sobbing as they described their plights, and Bailey was always quick to comfort them and offer a clean white handkerchief to dry their eyes.

The harsher the circumstances under which the contestant labored, the likelier the studio audience was to ring the applause meter's highest level. The winner, to the musical accompaniment of "Pomp and Circumstance", would be draped in a sable-trimmed red velvet robe, given a glittering jeweled crown to wear, placed on a velvet-upholstered throne, and handed a dozen long-stemmed roses to hold as she wept, often uncontrollably, while her list of prizes was announced.
Not only were they milking the misery of the "winner" for all it was worth, imagine being one of the losing contestants who'd put it all out there, but not "enough" to garner the highest on the "applause-o-meter."

An easier way to score a crown was eating a particular brand of margarine.

I begged my mom to buy that brand, because I coveted one of those beautiful crowns so much, and though my mother told me it was a trick on TV, she caved in and bought it once, so I could find out for myself.

The disappointment was almost as bitter as the margarine.

Anyway, if anyone deserved to be treated like a Queen, it was my mother, but she would never go on a radio or television show to whine about her life.

Mom and her younger brother
She was the oldest of four, and the target of much nit-picking by my (suspected OCPD) grandmother. She signed up for the Coast Guard and served with honor during WWII.

Afterward, on the rebound from a prior relationship, she met and married my father. Also a WWII veteran, smart, and charming as all get out when he wanted to be.

Probably NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder).  They had three daughters, me being the "bonus baby." Not long after that, breast cancer came along.  In those days, the way it worked was, you found a lump, they put you under and sliced you up. You found out if it was serious when you woke up, depending on how much of your body they'd carved away.

In Mom's case, pretty serious. They took her breast, the underlying chest muscles, the lymph nodes, and some of the muscles from under her arm.

Yet she would still smile at everyone.

I believe in the picture, below, she was still recovering from the surgery, because she had to wear those loose-fitting muumuus for some weeks (months?) afterward.

It was Mother's Day

I thought she should be treated like Queen for a Day. It was my idea, but my sisters joined in helping me make a "crown" out of, I think, a brown grocery bag, which I decorated with crayon and tinsel from our Christmas decorations stash. We put her on the "throne" with a fancy goblet of possibly wine, possibly fruit juice. Am not sure if the cushion under her arm was to add the royal touch or because she physically needed it in her recovery.

Prematurely silver hair ran in the family.
The glasses and the silver hair make her look old, at first glance,
but she was only mid-forties here.

I thought - I still think - she was absolutely beautiful, and I was so proud of her, so happy to have her as my mom. She was, in fact, the Best Mom in the World, though some silly people didn't realize that.  And I am still proud of her, and a little of myself, that I did make the effort to let her know how special she was to me.

And yet.

I cannot but think, now, that if only she had made a few different choices... Mom was my model for self-sacrificing relationships, for being sweet and kind and loving to everyone. No one had a bad word to say about her - not at her memorial service, five years later, after the cancer recurred, nor in the years that followed.  My sisters' husbands, who knew her in the years before she died, loved her to pieces. Who adores their mother-in-law?

I have come to believe that putting everyone else first, all the time, and allowing others to treat us badly, can, in fact, make us sick. Sick to death, even.

Doormats wear out.

My mother was a product of her time and her culture, and possibly even the influence of an OCPD mother. She followed all the rules of being nice, being polite, taking care of everyone but herself.  She was loved, yes, but only on rare occasion was she the one being pampered and taken care of.

Today is her birthday, and I'm missing her, of course. But I am also thinking that it would please her tremendously to know that I have learned from my own mistakes, and from her life.

There's a formula now, that we should put  51% of our efforts to ourselves, and no more than 49% to everyone else in our lives, added together. I can't help but think, if my mom had done that, she might have lived past my 10th birthday, and my life  - many lives - would have benefited tremendously for her continued presence in it.

Loving someone is never a mistake. But neglecting our own hearts, souls, dreams, and bodies, in the name of love, can kill us. Figuratively, or literally.

Do you believe in giving up everything for love?
Have you learned to save nurturing for yourself?
Do you have any life lessons from a loved one who's passed on?

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