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“You Want Acceptance”

I seem to have become high maintenance of late, as evidenced by my third trip to my nail salon within the last week.

My most recent visit was yesterday to repair a broken nail. No, it could not wait until my appointment next week because I have a wedding to go to on Saturday.

I adore my nail technicians. They always seem to be joking around and patiently listen when you need to talk.

In short, it’s like going in for therapy and walking out with lighter burdens and pretty fingernails.

I have no idea what exactly led to the conversation I had with my nail tech yesterday. You know how women are…one topic randomly leads to another. It’s impossible for a man to connect the dots because they are scattered everywhere with no rhyme or reason.

She asked a poignant question, “Were you a happy child growing up?”

Wow. What a loaded question!

I’ve gotta tell you that at 19 years of age, I was toting around some pretty heavy emotional baggage. It made for a difficult entry into marriage, and to this day, I consider the Mr. a saint for having to put up with me.

My mom and dad divorced when Super Sis and I were very, very young. I still remember a particularly bad argument between them when my mom left the house in a huff. My dad sat, crying, on the couch, and I chased her down outside and begged her to come in and talk to him. Their talk obviously did nothing to rectify the situation, and they eventually separated.

Mom became single and left me to care for Super Sis while she worked. Sometimes we had sitters; oftentimes not. This was the 70’s…a time when people didn’t say much about this practice.

We were left to fend for ourselves, barely any food in the house, and I was terrified of eating even a slice of bread for fear that my mom would get mad at me.

I remember one night someone discovered we were home alone, and we were taken to a foster home for the evening. I’ll never forget my mom picking us up at the police station the next day and promising me it would never happen again. What that meant was that we got better at hiding the fact that we were staying home alone, as I was instructed never to open the door if someone knocked.

Mom traveled in and out of relationships. I only remember a couple of the men, and those memories are hazy, at best. I remember one I especially liked. We lived with him in his townhouse, and he treated us well. Mom eventually left him, though, and it tore my heart apart to leave the security of that home…that sense of family we had created.

Eventually, my mom met the man who I now refer to as my stepfather (for years, he was “Dad” to me…he lost that honored title after I grew up).

Things appeared, on the outside, to be going well. We moved into a house with him, and he and my mom got married. He showered presents on us, and I was happy to have a family again.

Underneath all of that niceness, though, was some not-so-niceness. While my mom worked long shifts, he began to molest me. I didn’t understand what was happening, and he told me that if I told my mom, we wouldn’t be a family any more.

The only thing I’d wanted for a long time was for someone to love us…to be accepted…so I didn’t say a word…even when this went on for several years.

When we moved to Alabama, he eventually stopped, and I hid the memories of what he had done deep inside my heart…too confused to tell anyone.

I sought acceptance in other ways…making straight A’s…doing my chores…trying everything to be the kid who didn’t make waves…the one who fit in.

My teenage years were rough in high school. It’s tough to move to a new place where people have been friends since birth…especially in a small town.

I met the Mr. when I was 17, and we married after dating for two years. The months leading up to the wedding were not easy as I began to pull away from my stepdad and his control over me. Although he wasn’t abusing me any more, he and my mom, who to that point did not know about what he’d done, still wielded tight control over my life.

That’s when my repressed memories surfaced, and I told the Mr…shortly before the wedding. We proceeded with our plans, and we moved away. I made one visit home and never returned.

Eventually, I told my mom about the abuse, but she didn’t believe me.

Yes, she rejected the truth of what I had told her. Is it any wonder that I never felt like I could tell her anything? She did, after many months, come to terms with what I’d revealed and divorced her husband. That was little consolation to me.

I shared these memories of my childhood with my nail tech. It seems random, but it wasn’t. As I said before, I have no idea what led me to speak of things I haven’t told most people, but I trust her. She’s been doing my nails for three years, and I consider her a friend.

I guess the sharing of my memories was my long-winded way (no surprise there) of answering her original question. You know that we women must give the background story before we can answer any question.

🙂

Was I a happy child, she’d asked. What do photos of me taken when I was young depict?

I asked her a couple of questions in return, “What do you think? How do you see me now?”

She said, “You want acceptance. You always apologize for everything like you need us to accept you.”

I.

Was.

Stunned.

I think that nail techs must be required to obtain psychology degrees as part of their certification process, because they certainly do know people well.

I thought about her words as I drove home, and unbidden tears began to fall as I pulled into my neighborhood.

People often see me as shy…at least until you get to know me.

I’m quiet in large groups…uncomfortable.

Even now, as I write this, I’m extremely nervous about what I’m going to wear to the wedding I’m attending on Saturday.

Why?

Because I crave the one thing I feel I don’t have…acceptance.

It’s hard to be this way.

This need drives so much of what I do, I think.

I don’t want the flab that’s crept around my body because I want my husband and others to think I’m skinny. I fear rejection if I get fat.

For so many years, I wanted my mom’s acceptance. I don’t care about that any more, but the pain of her rejection all of those years still lingers.

Ugh!

Talk about a hot mess!!!

You know…as I drove home from my nail appointment yesterday, all I wanted to do was sit and write this post, while my thoughts were fresh.

Intead, I had other things to do…a hair appointment…a huge hug to give Rooster, newly home from his summer internship in Tennessee…dinner with the Mr….and my daily Bible study.

It was in my Bible study where I found solace.

My Small Group is studying the book, Experiencing God. This week’s lessons have been about God taking the initiative, calling people into a relationship with Him, and revealing His will to them to accomplish His purposes on earth.

I am a child of God. I have been a Christian for many years…ever since I was a teenager.

God has accepted me, flawed as I am, without me having to do anything.

I don’t need to seek out the world’s acceptance. It’s as fickle as that of the teenagers I am privileged to work with ten months a year.

With His acceptance comes healing and the redirecting of my attention off of myself and onto Him and the people who do love me…my husband, my children, my sister and her family, my in-laws, and my closest friends.

I need to put this issue to bed once and for all (and myself, for that matter considering that it’s nearly 3am as I am writing this).

God loves me and sent His Son to die for me…just as I am…flab and all.

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One Response

  1. I adore you. You are one special, honest, genuine and humble lady. ♡♡♡

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