Looking For Gold
My mother was and still is a real trooper. Never complaining and always doing. She willingly pitched in and with her never ending patience and dedication allowed her to accomplish anything and everything she put her mind to. She is highly intelligent and her memory is sharp as a pin. I admired her for her intellect and penchant for learning and I thank her for many of those inherited qualities
However having said that there was a huge void in her emotional makeup that she could never give…her heart…Somewhere along the line something must have happened to her because although she gave of herself she could never give from her heart.
As a child it was impossible for me to understand her emotional detachment and head up demeanour towards me making me feel inadequate and unlovable. Rather than feeling a genuine love from her I felt more like a chore and this was her duty to perform.
I was just something on her to do list. I knew in the deepest part of my soul that I had to constantly validate my existence to her so she could one day change her mind and truly love me… Eventually I began to feel strangely conflicted over these feelings about my mother. Having never been able to find a chink in her emotional armour a part of me still yearned for her warmth yet another part of me just shut down.
My one saving grace from a complete emotional implosion was my grandmother who lived with us. She was the loving salve that nursed my wounds outwardly and soothed my pain inwardly. She was the one in whom I felt comfort with and loved me more for who I was rather than what I did. Nana, as we called her, cooked, cleaned and took care of us while my parents were at work during the week. However kind and generous she was to all of us this genuine love and caring was far from equally returned by my parents.
She would make our meals at night and once the dishes were done my parents rule was strictly enforced, she had to retire to her tiny suite in the basement until the next morning only to repeat the same process all over again. What’s worse on the weekends she wasn’t even allowed up the stairs until Monday morning. I remember spending many hours with her in her room playing cards, doing jigsaws and helping her with her crossword puzzles which she so loved so much.
The nature of her mistreatment was very much like that of my own, not obviously blatant but dangerously subtle. That is why it went on for so long. This type of abuse of power avoided my detection as a child because I still needed to strive within the confines of my parent’s rules regardless of the validity or complete lack of fairness within them.
I sometimes wonder now if Nana was aware of the unfair treatment she received or had she been totally mesmerized into submission just like me…This was the foundation on which my self worth was built. Rather than rock it was more like quicksand…Thankfully though I found my first escape route through swimming or should I say more like swimming found me. We were living in Sunnyvale, California where my father had just been offered a job as a lithographer. I had always loved the water and now there was a swimming pool on every corner! As fate would have it that particular area was the cradle of many Olympic swimmers and I remember watching in awe while they practiced in the local pool. This was the beginning of my dream… The first shiny glimpse that was to become my personal quest for gold….