My daughter is beautiful. And amazing. And brilliant. And talented. And ridiculously funny.
These things I know for sure.
Doubts it all.
All the damned time.
It makes me crazy. I am constantly wishing she could see herself through my eyes. If she could, she would be kinder to herself. Gentler. She would love the person she is the way I love the person she is -- beyond all reason and limits. She would look in the mirror and be happy with what she sees. She would celebrate her many accomplishments instead of bemoaning her shortcomings. She would be unafraid to show the world and Life just how incredible she is.
And I wonder why she simply cannot see her amazingness the way I do. She says, "You're my mother. You love me. You can't see me clearly."
Pfffttt. Ridiculous! Because I love her, I see her more clearly than anyone! She thinks I can't see her faults? Ridiculous! I am the one who has to deal with them directly! She thinks I can't see her shortcomings? Ridiculous! I see them, but they are far outweighed by her talents!
I know part of it is that she's 14 and these teen years (and the ones just before) are defined by self-doubt and anxiety about... well... everything. And I know part of it is the fact that she is surrounded by friends who are just as beautiful and amazing and brilliant and talented and funny as she is... but they are beautiful and amazing and brilliant and talented and funny in different ways than she is... and we always, always (always!) compare ourselves to others, often perceiving ourselves as 'less than.'
And I am afraid -- terrified -- that part of her inability to see herself clearly is because of...
I have set a poor example.
I am a 48-year-old version of her. I find it nearly impossible to see my own beauty and amazingness and brilliance and talent, even when -- especially when -- it's pointed out to me.
Need to practice what I preach.
The example I've set her for has fallen woefully short.
Don't get me wrong... one thing I've always believed I'm good at is being her mother. We have an incredible relationship and she is all those wonderful things, in part, because I have nurtured them in her. I know this. But, unknowingly, I have allowed her to believe that not acknowledging your own amazingness -- not celebrating yourself and who you are -- is OK.
My friends tell me all the time that I am amazing and wonderful and all manner of lovely things. I hear what they say. I do. I get validation all the time. But I pooh-pooh it as bias...
They love me, so they can't see me clearly.
I do believe I've heard that somewhere before.
I learned a long time ago that this sort of thing is called a legacy burden. We pass these negative beliefs and behaviors down, from generation to generation, without even realizing we're doing it. I was made aware of it when discussing body image issues with my therapist a long time ago. I vowed never to pass those worries on to Ryan and I've done a great job of that, I think. She has a healthy body and, overall, is happy in it and with it.
But I didn't realize what I was doing... what I am doing... what burdens she will carry... what burdens she is carrying because of the way I see myself.
This negative self-talk has been something I've been aware of for a long time. It's something I've tried to work on, periodically, over the years. But this is the first time I've realized how it's affecting the person I love most in this world. Stupidly, I didn't think she could hear me. I didn't think she would know what was going on in my own head. And this is the first time I've realized that she is seeing herself through the same mirror I've been using.
It's time to get a new mirror.