My therapist gave me the optional homework of keeping a journal about how it makes me feel that I’m not out to my parents. I’m using this blog—at least for the next couple of entries—as a journal. I’ll understand if you don’t want to read on, but I hope you’ll rejoin me when I’ve worked this out. (Who knows, maybe this will end up being the only entry. I’m so undisciplined.)
My therapist feels that hiding parts of my life from my parents, excluding them from half my life, takes its toll on me. She believes that it has contributed to my feelings of low self-worth, since hiding something equates a sense of shame and, ergo, a lack of self-esteem. And it’s an understandable hypothesis. It makes sense.
It’s become just my way of life, this hiding of things. I don’t like doing it, never did. But it’s natural now. Do my parents know that I’ve written a novel, a novella, and numerous published short stories? No. Do they know that I’ve co-edited several anthologies, including one that’s up for a prestigious literary award? No. I’ve always referred to this as editing my life.
Do I feel bad about that? Yes. Of course. I wish I could share my accomplishments with them.
When my heart was broken after my long-term relationship ended, could I cry on my mother’s shoulder? Could I share with her my heartache and feelings of failure, rejection, and despondency? No, I couldn’t. It made me feel lonely.
But I also felt guilty that I was not sharing these things with my mother. Aren’t these the kinds of things that were meant for mother-daughter talks?
I feel bad for my mother. I feel like I’ve deprived her of so much: helping me plan my wedding, grandchildren, and being her daughter’s confidante. I couldn’t give her any of those. (Walking down the aisle to the waiting arms of another woman would have been beyond her understanding.)
I feel like shit. I feel like a bad daughter. I feel like I disappointed my parents, and have disappointed everyone ever since, from lovers to teachers to bosses. I simply don’t live up to what’s expected of me.
There. My therapist just earned her degree.