It was what was said, but it wasn't what was said.


The day after I had written my last post, something had occurred to me. Given what I had described and previous entries regarding my Mother's behavior toward me, one can begin to derive a pattern. 

Most of her nastiest "parenting" occurred when something with me involved involved additional money. Let's look at the examples: I accidentally cut myself with a scissors, requiring 7 stitches and a trip to the emergency room. Money. I make it to the second round in the science fair, requiring a car trip to southern Minnesota. Money. I voice suicidal ideation that in almost any other family, would result in a psychiatric evaluation. Money.

Can you see the pattern? Exceptional behavior, resulting in an expense of some kind. Sometimes this would be related to curiosity, or intellectual displays, or even the level I would need professional help. Each time this was boiled down to a singular point of disapproval, "It costs me money". Care, compliments, or concern were not provided on that basis. 

So what does this say about my Mother? 

Before I answer that question, let's turn the tables. Mom was actually a rather intelligent individual. She had musical, artistic, and literary skill. She was sharp, but relentlessly withdrawn and prone to emotional explosions. I never felt I got a good sense of her as a person. In retrospect, she often came across as talking behind a mask. A heavy, dreadful mask of stoicism and a pessimistic outlook. Her childhood was very, very difficult. Her father died very early, and she practically had to raise her brother. They were poor for much of her teenage years. My Grandmother, as I later learned, had a terribly sharp tongue and was damn near abusive to her second husband. Mom never went to college. She became a mother instead, and settled for a brief career as a kind of teacher's assistant. 

She was a creative, intellegent individual who unfourtunately suffered a poverty and abuse stricken childhood. 

She was denied opportunities to go to college, by her situation. And denied a career due to a culture which regarded women as service personnel and biological factories. 

Given that, I can see how a person might grow up angry, bitter, and convinced that the world is a terrible, heartless place. You can only trust family, and then only so far. It's all built on masks and illusions; you learn to work around everyone's damage while accepting your own share.

So then let's say you had a kid. Who's (forgive me for being indulgent here) bright, smart, provided with opportunities and learning outlets that were denied to you growing up. Let's say this child also seemed withdrawn, constantly sad and unhappy for no apparent reason. How would you react?

You might think, Stop that, you little whiner! I had barely more than shit growing up, and you're unhappy!? You might not even realize when you knock this child down. When you come across as disapproving or critical of him. And when he excels despite this, you may feel something else entirely.


In case you were wondering, I did intentionally use the masculine pronoun above. I cannot ignore the possibility that sexist attitudes were worked into that jealousy. As a woman, she was denied opportunities that would have otherwise been available to men even given her situation. Even if my Mom realized I was trans before her death, this may have only magnified what she was feeling. To her, it would seem I was willingly throwing away privilege, angering her all the more. 

All of this is just a theory, of course. I only examine it in order to try and make sense of the mess I find myself in today. Maladaptive Perfectionism is really a symptom in this case and not a cause. It's a symptom of years of internalized hatred and resulting damage. Had Mom not grown up as she did, my transness might have only needed a little more love and care in order to result in a healthy adult. Instead, it exacerbated a situation resulting in a shuddering bundle of unhealthy drives pitted against other unhealthy drives known as me. A person to which pessimism isn't just a personality trait, it's a method of survival.