Another session today with the shrink. She asked me a lot of questions to fill her in about my marriage and my daughter. I find that every time I look back at my marriage I see it in a slightly different light.
We talked a lot about my feeling “selfish.” That’s been a theme in my life. My mother accused me of being “selfish” because I wanted to get away from her. I guess I was supposed to take care of her for life and never have a life of my own. Wanting my own life was “selfish.” My ex accused me of being “selfish” because I didn’t devote myself to my daughter the way he thought I should, the way the woman he left me for now does. She hovers over my daughter constantly; I’m not a hoverer. The shrink asked if I did the best I could? I believe I did the best I could, it just wasn’t good enough and I’m still blaming myself. I asked her if she thought I was selfish and she said that’s not a helpful word to use. All it does is make me feel rotten, it doesn’t help anyone, especially me.
My ex told my daughter I was “selfish” and she’s internalized that. She now says “mommy wants me to take care of her, she doesn’t take care of me.” Where did she get that language? Him of course (and her stepmother). He even told her I didn’t change her diapers in the middle of the night when she was a baby—which is a total lie. That was pretty poisonous.
Oh well, selfish is as selfish does, and if I am selfish I’m also human. A very flawed human as it turns out. I read a quote recently from Fay Weldon, one of my favorite writers. I wish I could remember it exactly but it goes something like, “If you want to find out the worst about yourself become a parent.” How true. Luckily my foster daughter thinks I’m the best mother in the world. One out of two ain’t bad.