A Momentary Lapse

Last night, I posted about my negative experience yet again on the A&E forum. Now, after a decent night's sleep, I want to reflect on what happened and how I ended up back at that forum reading comments when I knew for a fact that the board has a tendency to be hostile to those who appear on the show.

I am moving on. But I find it helpful (for the next time I'm weak or needy and tempted to do something stupid again) to identify the triggers within myself that cause me to throw caution to the wind and act compulsively.

So why would I choose to go there? What in me was so needy? I think I've figured it out, and now I just hope that next time I'm in the same place, this experience and this entry will be there to remind me to choose a different outlet. I needed validation that what I did, what I am doing now, and what I will do in the future for my mom was, is and will be the right thing.

It's really easy to say that I shouldn't need outside validation. I wish that I could say that it were true. But looking back on my childhood, not just the horrors and bad events, but on me, validation has always been a primal need that I struggled to get met. I remember a childhood friend complaining to his grandmother that I always bragged about things.

And I remember her response to him: "You have so much more than she does, be patient. She needs to feel special and loved too."

Always the reflective child, I took a look at myself as best as an 11-year-old can. I never felt like I was bragging. I had almost nothing to brag about, except maybe my grades and achievements. And even though I was an overachiever and had good grades, they were never enough to make my mom proud of me, so I undercut their validity. I had one black and white TV. We had no cable. We had no VCR. We had no gaming systems. All my things were either "out of fashion" or hand-me-downs. What did I have to brag about?

The boy who said these things had a brand new "trick" bike, Nintendo (this was 1987 and it was the hottest new thing!), a mom who stayed home, nice clothes, a clean apartment, a boombox. He had so many things that I couldn't even bring into a thought to ask my mom for!

But why did I brag? An inherent need for validation.

I learned early on that straight A's weren't good enough. Even when you had the best grade in the class, there was always another peak higher to be climbed to. I was reminded of this on a regular basis. "That's great....BUT next time you should..." That was the mantra of my childhood. The BUT statement negates the first part, the praise.

I struggle with this myself as a parent. I have to make a conscious effort to praise my children and then shut up! All too often, I say the same things to my children, "That was great...BUT..." And I'm reminded that no matter how important I think the criticism at the end is, it negates the praise. And I want my children to say of me, "I wasn't always the best, but I always did my best, and my mom praised me for my efforts! She was my biggest fan!"

I needed validation then, and I still need it now. But as a child, I learned that seeking validation was needy, labeled as bragging or weakness. And those messages still play in my head. But I am learning that it is not necessarily needy to seek validation. Yes, it can be taken to the extreme and I hope that I never get to a point where I have to call friends on a daily basis and ask them to remind me that I'm enough...but an occasional need is not a bad thing. We all need validation from time to time. And we need to be surrounded by those who can and will give us that validation freely.

My momentary lapse of reason last night was not that I needed validation, but that I went to a total stranger for it! I am surrounded by a wonderful group of friends, family, and virtual friends who love and support me, who encourage me and cry with me. I don't need to look to total strangers for that need to be met. My pride, my need to be self-sufficient and not admit my need to others in the hopes of saving face (and isn't this what got my mom into the position she was in her home? the need to save face? to protect her pride?) was working to destroy me.

BUT...I AM a strong, beautiful woman. I would go to hell and back to help a friend. I do answer my phone if a friend calls in the middle of the night. I encourage those around me to see their value and strength when they can't see it on their own. I am enough.

Father, thank you for the gift of friends, family, and virtual friendships that have the ability to ground me or lift me up when I need it. Thank you for making in your reflection which means that no matter how low I feel, I must have value because You're definitely not junk. You are love. You are peace. You are my One and Only, my lover from the first. Continue to wrap me in Your embrace even when your arms look like those of my friends or the words of my family. I am so grateful for your love and encouragement. In Jesus' name, AMEN.


CJ Omololu said…
I caught part of that episode last night, and my reaction to it was as it was the first time - that you were so smart, articulate and sympathetic.

I have no dog in the fight and I can't stand the A&E comments or the FB comments for the Hoarders page. Stay strong. Virtual hug.

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