It seems as though MANY people (or at least me and my husband) have at least ONE good enough parent, hence leading to the large number of guys and gals, such as myself, with wavering self-esteem, a high-level of self-consciousness, and a fear of failure.
By Good Enough parent, I mean the one for which NOTHING you did was good enough. It didn't matter if you got 5th place in the middle school spelling bee, graduated early from college with magna cum laude honors, and was a generally good kid. You still weren't good enough. Something was STILL wrong. Should have been 1st place, summa cum laude, and a GREAT kid (enter a comparison person - you know "janiejoeblow is a doctor now... blalblabla." Oh, fuck her, seriously?
These parents make me want to vomit and cry - both at the same time. The damage they cause is deep. The pain they cause is deeper. It's a fact of life - kids want love and approval from their parents. Sadly, many parents don't have the capacity to give it (most of them are still trying to gain approval from THEIR parents) and then we are left with the result.
The sad thing is that EVEN though the parent may be DEAD (like in my case), you still carry the complex. Granted, it's gotten a lot better these days, but even so, is it because I've done a lot of "great things" or is it just because I like myself more and don't give a shit? I mean, I've accomplished a lot and I still sometimes feel like less than human, you know? I'm a great person, a caring person, a good mom, a smart lady, and I STILL sometimes feel like I'm not good enough. For whom, really? Just because I don't like to clean, OR I don't cook well (although it's getting better), OR I have stinky feet. Seriously, who the fuck cares? I'm all about compromise, learning, and growing (and foot cream) BUT, does that make me LESS than human and not worthy of approval and respect. NO WAY... But why do I feel that way?
My hubby has a living good enough parent (so now I have one by proxy - it's bad karma I tell you...) - and what shocks me is that he still shares things with her that I would probably not even tell my good enough parent. Why choose the misery and pain when you can avoid it? I think for him, it's hard to be the caretaker husband type (which sleepy, frustrated mommas like me NEED now and then) when you yourself are still searching for the care/approval that you never got. It's hard to be the back patter when you need some pats yourself. It's a huge cycle that needs to be broken.
The result is this: We try to seek out approval from where we can get it - hence the overachiever, perfectionist mindset - the obsession with looking HOT on an hourly basis (I've given that up since the daughter popped out). We avoid situations in which we might even remotely fail - which may disallow us the pleasure of our true life calling (or some may say, if it didn't happen, it's not your life calling... fine... whatever). We settle for less than what we are worth. We are afraid to trust and love. We are dreamers and half-doers. We are critical of others only because we (in some small way) wish WE could be like them. We care - and that's half the problem.
The lesson is this: Don't be the good enough parent with YOUR kids. Let their scribbles be fabulous, their C in Algebra be OKAY, their choice of profession be GREAT. No comparisons to anyone but themselves. Put aside YOUR expectations and dreams and allow them to have their own. Love them for who they are and not who they COULD be or SHOULD be. Don't talk about how great they are BEHIND their back and never tell them to their face. Show them the world as an open book FULL of beginnings and opportunities and choices.
And, remember, YOU don't need to have done anything amazingly wonderful to be GOOD ENOUGH. You don't need to make tons of money, have model looks or moonlight as Mr. Clean. You are good enough just as you are. We all want to improve ourselves - but that doesn't change the inherent goodness we possess.
You are good. You are great. You are good enough.