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  • Jaye Gaff

So, what did your parents teach you?



I’m currently in therapy at the hospital where I had my {half} jaw surgery to learn how to manage my pain better. I am not a therapy person. For me, talking about myself is boring {she says, as she writes about herself}. I don’t need to rehash things and I don’t need to talk to someone to discover why I feel the way I feel.


But when your team tells you to do it, you go do it.


In the first few appointments we got into my parents/family and all the shit that involves. How do you feel about your dad? Fine. How do you feel about your mum? Fine. Your siblings? The things that happened to you at work? Being raped and sexually harassed? All fine. Like, I just do not care. It is what it is.


The thing that stood out to me though is her reaction to my answer to the questions — how does your childhood affect your parenting? What did your parents teach you?


In short, what they did doesn’t affect me in the slightest. They were shit parents. What else do you call emotional and physical abuse? One parent knowing what the other parent was doing and just leaving you in the thick of it. Threatening to return you to that parent when you were too difficult to deal with. Generally being emotionally unstable. The both of them.


You could, of course, let it affect the rest of your life or you could use what they did as building blocks to forming a really fabulous life. So the latter? That’s what I did. I don’t resent them. They did their best with what they knew. Was their best complete and utter trash? Sure. But they weren’t very intelligent people and they weren’t capable of growth. So… take what they did and run the other fucking way.


Anytime I struggle with parenting I think of them and what they would do and sprint the fuck out of there. This is not to say that I don’t make mistakes. I do. I make many bloody mistakes. But here’s the stark difference - I apologise. I created a home where my daughter feels safe. And she calls us out on our bullshit and we actively think before we act. Our daughter is a human being. She is seen and heard. She is loved and valued and she knows it.


The main issue I had with my mother was this — I would ask for an apology and she wouldn’t give it. She couldn’t give it. She’d scream and swear and storm out of my house and expect me, pregnant, to run after her. I wanted apologies I couldn’t ask for. I wanted a level of respect she wasn’t capable of. And her? I’m sure she wanted a bunch of things from me but, really, what it came down to was this. She touted “blood is thicker than water” and I called bullshit.


I can say all of this without crying. I have not lost anything. In fact, when I heard that my mum was telling people she only had three children I felt such a weight lifted off my shoulders because, really, it‘s true. She gave birth to me but she was never a mother to me. Same for the sperm donor.


Did I think they would have traumatised me for life? Yes, once upon a time I did. But, now, I know better. You can go through trauma and work through it and tie it up in a nice little bow and be good with it. You can use that trauma to better your life and you can use them as motivators for every single moment.


I’m not sure why this was so groundbreaking to the therapist. Surely, this is common knowledge? I know my strengths. I know I am dim witted and, quite frankly, stupid but I know I have emotional intelligence. I never act without thinking. If I ever do something bad, well, it’s because I wanted to. I wanted to hurt you. I always know what I’m doing.


So… I guess, if you have shit parents — use that. Build on that. Ask yourself what they would do and run the fuck away from that shit. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. They did you a favour - you never have to see or hear from them again! And that’s bliss. Remember that.

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