I’m halfway through a therapy session when I have a sudden thought. I really want a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “I do what I want.” I want it so badly that immediately after therapy I start doing some research, just to see if I can make it happen. In fact, the longer I think on it, the more I need to make it happen. See, those words have a much deeper meaning for me than just their face value. In my head they are code for “Fuck you, Mom.”
At this point, let me say I do not hate my mother. I love her, and I’ve missed her terribly since her death. But I am so very angry at her. And yes, it may seem childish to be angry after all these years, especially when she’s dead and gone, but my anger is warranted.
Where Mom’s concerned, I have a lifetime’s worth of suppressed negative emotions. I suppressed those emotions to avoid her anger, win her acceptance, and make her happy. I wasn’t allowed to burden her with my anxieties or depression. If I told her I was feeling depressed she’d tell me “You’re not depressed. You’re just sad, and you’ll get over it.”
In the same vein, I spent a lifetime on the diet roller coaster because she wasn’t happy unless I was working toward some impossible goal weight. And no matter how well I did, it was never enough. After losing a hundred pounds I tried a dress on and my mom said “That would look better if you were ten pounds lighter.” When I was heavier I found an outfit I felt really good in, and she said “If you were forty pounds lighter I’d buy that for you.” And when she did buy me new clothes, there were always rules. No bright colors. No fitted shirts. No horizontal stripes. No shorter skirts. No loud prints.
And God forbid I ask her to buy me a tube of red lipstick.
After two years of therapy I now know my mother’s rules were flat out wrong, and that I’m not just sad, I am clinically depressed. But still, I have moments where I wish she were still around, so I could express that anger. “Fuck you, Mom, you were wrong. I cry in public. I express anger. I wear horizontal stripes. I eat the fucking cake, and I wear the goddamn red lipstick.”
I do what I want.
I urge you to do the same.