I don’t know if many of you know this, but I have a 15 year old daughter. A fabulous, smart, out-spoken, every-thing-I-wish-I-could’ve-been at her age, daughter. She loves herself and sometimes doubts herself, but trusts herself most of the time. I didn’t have that, and still don’t some days.
She and I recently went shopping to get her ready for camp. At the end of our excursion, as we were sitting down in exhaustion, I remarked that “shopping wasn’t fun anymore”. And then I questioned that statement, because at one time in my life, shopping was fun. When I was shopping with my mother. The one activity she liked to do better than anything else. Makes me stop and think…
Did I actually like shopping? Did I only like it because my mother shopped for sport, and dragged my sister and I along with her, while she projected her taste onto us? What was steeped in that? What changed for me? Why did I once enjoy shopping with my daughter, but now no longer? I adore my daughter, though shopping with her is painful and slow like molasses at times. As I ponder these questions, emotion begins to choke in my throat and tears of sadness well up in my eyes. The days when I enjoyed shopping with my mother sure seemed easier in many ways.
Then it dawned on me. The difference. The reason why no longer. Because shopping with my mother was one of the few times when I had her absolute attention. When she was in her element and seemingly her happiest. I also had her approval, especially when I chose clothing, etc., that she suggested. And when I tried it on and she made comments like, “you really don’t need to lose anymore weight”(mind you I was way into my disordered eating and restriction), I was in heaven. She loved the way I looked! She was giving me her undivided attention! She loved me! I was good enough!!
There was a time long ago when I couldn’t do anything without my mother’s approval. I couldn’t make a decision without her input, and even when my husband said something that made sense, I would have to run it by her to make certain. I was dependent. I was co-dependent. All I wanted was to please her and have her see me. When we were shopping she saw me. We laughed. I made her laugh. We felt close. I miss that closeness now, even as I am writing this and well into my recovery from narcissistic and emotional abuse. I wonder if that longing will ever go away.
But now I have my daughter. And we are close. And she is her own person who I hope, doesn’t feel like she has to please me or care for me emotionally. Though I fear sometimes she does, and I try to have continued Awareness around that. I don’t ever want her to feel the way I once did. I don’t ever want her to feel not good enough.
She and I have new traditions. We see Broadway shows and she fills me in on the latest theatre news. We sing songs at the top of our lungs and share laughs around inside jokes. We quote lines from Schitts Creek and together placed 96 calls to our hair salon when it finally opened back up after lock-down so that we could get an appointment. We are not codependent. She is her own person. She tells me when I do something wrong or when I’ve upset her, and I listen. I listen to hear and so that she’ll continue to share. And I try not to make her feel small. And I try to help her love her body and herself. And she does.
And that’s why I don’t like shopping any longer.
Thank you Alisa Stamps for this great article!