Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The song of survival

First I was afraid

I was petrified

Kept thinking I could never live

without you by my side

But I spent so many nights

thinking how you did me wrong

I grew strong

I learned how to carry on

You will have surmised by now that I have parental unit issues. Who really doesn't? But, it's amazing how parents can smother the life out of their children with well-meaning intentions.

Over the past four days - the weekend, plus yesterday and today, my parents have called me exactly seven times. That's more than once a day. Tonight, it was my dad's turn. They're worried. What else is new? If it's not to double-check whether I've changed the filter in my furnace this month or paid all of my bills, it's to enquire whether I've eaten that day, purchased travel insurance for my upcoming trip and today, it was to demand that I provide my location details, telephone numbers and emails of the people I will be visiting on my last leg of my trip.

I'm venturing by train to Bristol to visit friends who I met while on vacation in the Dominican Republic. They are respected members of society, a mom and dad team with two kids in tow. Not exactly the druglords my parents envision.

My response: I will email you when I get there via Hotmail but I am not providing a background check for these people (my mother did ask). I will call you when I arrive and IF there is a problem, you'll be the first on my speed dial.

As I got off the phone, I was bewildered that, at the age of 38 years old, I am still treated like a 15-year-old by the two people who have done their utmost to instill in me a good set of values but also what they consider to be a healthy dose of fear. For years, all I heard was "Be careful." "Watch out for strangers." "Don't drive on the highway because you'll die." "Don't fail." Is that healthy?

What isn't healthy is that they assume I will purposely put myself in danger, by inviting strangers in, not locking my door at night, jumping off of a cliff... you name it, they thought it.

Tonight's request was not my father's doing. It was my mom coaching my dad from the sidelines. Make sure she has enough travel and health insurance, coach her on the importance of keeping your passport and traveler's cheques close, don't talk to strangers on the train, don't get on the wrong train. They think they are preparing me for life. At 38 years old, I had hoped their job was done. What they don't realize is that by constantly pointing out what I should be doing and how I should be doing it, they are chipping away my self confidence.

Eight years ago, my mother uttered eight words that I will never forget: "You'll never survive on your own without me." Those eight words are engraved in my brain, and however I try to erase them, they remain, sometimes in neon lights. While on the job, organizing my home life, choosing a life partner, paying the bills, looking for my next employ. "You will never survive."

Has it hindered me? Yes and no. Any therapist will tell you if you're told you are one way over and over again, it's often difficult to think any different. I am in a constant struggle to keep those voices at bay. "You will never survive." "Be careful." "Don't fail." "Don't fall." "You will always need me to take care of you." How do I break this cycle?

It's highly likely that I will fail at some point. That is life. You jump in and learn from your mistakes. I just need to feel that it's okay to make those mistakes in the first place. Margaret and Joe need to realize that they have prepared me as much as they can. Otherwise, I will be pre-determined to sit on the sidelines and wonder "what if I fail," "what if I get hurt," what if I can't survive on my own without them."

No parent is perfect. No child is perfect. No one is perfect. Scribe is not perfect and neither are her parents. But, I will always love them.

Oh no, not I

I will survive

As long as i know how to love

I know I will stay alive

I've got all my life to live

I've got all my love to give

and I'll survive

I will survive

I'm sure Gloria Gaynor did not have this post in mind when she first sang this song. It is all about survival though, in love and life.


  1. "Don't drive on the highway because you'll die." That totally sounds like something I'd say. Hopefully, not when my boys are in their 30s though.

    It sounds like your safety has become their obsession. Being an overbearing parent can become a horrible habit that's very hard to break. Truth be told it becomes their entire focus so they don't have to work on themselves. Guilty as charged! For me, it takes a third party to help me snap out of it. Usually, my husband, mom or brother.