Thursday, August 2, 2012

Who is the failure?

Last night my son was eating his dinner at the kitchen table, I was sitting on the couch watching the RHOBH and sipping on a vodka and tonic, and my husband was sitting on the couch playing with his iPad.  Then my son says to me, "I think, you think I'm a failure."

I'm going to guess that many of my readers are thinking I must have been devastated by these words.  To be completely honest, I wasn't.  (just a minute, let me pull this knife out of my chest and get a tissue for all this blood.)  I will say, however, it stung a bit.

This summer has been a HUGE learning opportunity for me.  You know what God Oprah says, "The universe (aka God) is always trying to get your attention. Sometimes it starts out -- any major problem you encounter -- as a whisper. By the time it gets to be a storm, you've had a pebble knock you upside the head; you've had a brick; you've had a brick wall; you've had a house fall down. And before you know it, you are in the eye of the storm. But long before you are in the eye of the storm, you've had many warnings, like little clues."

The first thing about whatever it is that I'm supposed to be learning began with the trip to MN to visit my parents and ALL the family.  This was a big learning opportunity.  I learned that no matter what I do I will never please my father.  Seriously, even if I do exactly what he asked me to do and I do it completely successfully and I do it better than even I could imagine it being done, it isn't good enough.  Even if I (and my brothers) take the money my father insisted with use to form an investment group.  Invest the money and actively try to grow this investment.  Even if the purpose of giving us this money was to try to control his children and force them into having to interact with each other as adults, whether we wanted to do this or not and believe me it hasn't always been easy but in the end we have figured out how to get along and manage the money and our relationships and it only took 15 or so years.  And we Did It!  And, he's not happy about it.  No "good job" or "you did it" or "you are great kids" or even "you didn't screw this up."  Nothing.  Silence.  Well, not silence, because I've heard some snide comments, but you know what I mean.

My husband wonders why I always consider myself a failure or find the problems in anything I do or say, even if it seems like I was successful.  I can always find my mistakes or find things I think I could have done better.  I have to tell you, these overwhelming feelings of failure don't just come a couple times each week.  They come over me any time of the day.  I can be walking into the bathroom to get ready for work and I see knik-knaks sitting on the windowsill that I've thought to myself, "you know, you should sell that stuff on eBay" and then I'll see the things sitting there, not being sold on eBay and I'll think to myself (and sometimes even say out loud), "I'm a failure."  This happens so often during a day, even I can't believe it.  For some reason I have convinced myself that anything I think I should do is something I should do and if I haven't done it and if I haven't done it better than I think anyone could do it, I'm a failure.

I don't think my son is a failure.  I told him, "I don't think you are a failure."  He hasn't failed at anything, yet.  I told him he hadn't really done anything yet either, but he was still young and had time to succeed or fail at whatever he chooses to do.  Somehow I have been a great success at reflecting my father's opinion of me onto my son.  I continued trying to be encouraging to my son and tell him over and over that I don't think he is a failure.  While I'm trying to say encouraging things, my husband is translating what I'm saying to my son, so he can hear it in a positive tone.  (is the irony of my screen name and blog name showing?)  Who knows if my son can even hear anything encouraging or positive from me anymore.  Maybe after 25 years of listening to the sound of my voice, maybe "pass the salt" sounds like "you're a failure" to him when it comes out of my mouth.

I believe God is showing me the how and why of my personality and showing me clearly, that I need to work on positivity harder and stronger than I've been working on it.  I thought I was getting more positive.  And, maybe I have.  Maybe I wouldn't have noticed how negatively my father behaves if not for becoming a more positive person.  Maybe my son wouldn't have had the courage to say those words to me if not for noticing I've become a more positive person.  Maybe...  maybe...

I know I don't want to get to the point of being in the eye of the storm.  I don't even want my house to fall down on me (I've been close enough to that when the tree fell on my house).  Those words from my son's mouth last night were definitely a pebble hitting me in the head.  Yeah, it hurt a little.  It hurt enough to get my complete attention.  Being encouraging.  Being positive.  Being Happy.  These are the important things to be.

480.  My son and his honesty
481.  My son and his love for me
482.  My son and his trust in me
483.  My son and his faith in God
484.  My husband for translating my words and tone for my son to hear

Mark Stivers 2004


  1. we live...we learn...and it gives you something to think on...i think a key thing as does he feel like a failure? and what can you do to help that?

  2. I am sorry you are going through this.  We all have generational curses and traits handed down to us that we are fighting against.  So maybe your son won't be battered in a  way that you were by your father.  It all eventually gets a little better by each generation.  I fight hard against my own generational traits and curses and I hope and pray my daughter never even knows what they are because I have fought so hard at keeping them away from her.  I'll know eventually when she gets to the age of self discovery and wants to blame me for every problem in her life.  Parenting is the hardest job in the world and no one tells you that.  

  3. Parenting is hard no matter how old they are, huh?

  4. Those last four lines - love that.  You are going through a powerful time in your life and I admire you for sticking with it.  

  5. I think I have convinced myself and my kids the measurement of success and failure is between us and God...not the parent, not the scoreboard, not the coach...if we do our best, really our best..that is a success... it is the the effort, not the result...

  6. What a loaded comment...scary.  I could see my son saying this too.  You handled it with wisdom.

  7. It's easy for me to fall into a place of self-pity--I am a failure, I am not a good person, Nobody likes me, etc.  The tapes seem endless and are in a loop sometimes. But I know that those are voices of the past.  Reality is quite different.  Thanks for the reminder. 


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