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Are you being true to yourself? Sunday December 28, 2014

Earlier this year I made a decision. Making this decision made me feel like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, it was liberating.

So what was this momentous decision? I decided that I would stop trying to compete with my mother. Let me explain.

Firstly, this December my mother will have been dead for 3 years. During her life she was the consummate craftswoman. There was hardly a textile-based craft that she did not do. She sewed, knitted, crocheted, wove, made patchwork, beaded, dyed, did cross-stich, embroidery, tapestry, applique and spun wool. I do not remember a single moment in my mothers life when she was not doing something. And she was good at it.

A year before she died she developed dementia. It was a slow process but gradually we watched her lose her abilities to do all the things she loved. She still tried to knit, crochet and spin but eventually she forgot how to do even these. I felt incredibly guilty that, as her only daughter, I had not learnt these skills to be able to carry on where she left off, and I had realised this too late to learn them from her and that this wealth of knowledge was lost.

After she died I felt that I had to try and learn some of these. I started to get a weekly magazine on how to crochet, and started to make squares for a blanket. I borrowed a book from the library on patchwork and started collecting fabrics and made a cushion. I got out the cross-stitch kit that she bought me one year and tried to get it finished. Hubby bought me a sewing machine for Christmas.

Then one day it hit me. I was not doing these things because I loved doing them, I was doing them because I felt I aught to do them. What I loved doing was painting and sculpting. Something my mother had never done. What I was trying to do was to compete with my mother and I would never win. She had loved what she did, that was what made her good at it, I did not have the same passion so was not being true to myself and was failing.

I had been the only one who thought I aught to do this stuff so why was I doing it? I decided to stop.

The relief at deciding that I was going to focus on what I want to do instead was tremendous.

Is there something in your life that you are simply doing as a sense of duty? Are you being true to yourself? As I realised you need to truly love doing something to be truly good at it.

A Moodscope member.

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Eliz Piercey Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 5:26am

Thanks Penny, a true and honest piece of writing. I love to swim, and managed to go yesterday for the first time in a long time as I haven't been very well and have been through a difficult time.
It's strange and hurtful that we can unwittingly punish ourselves, but I think it is some sort of healing process we have to go through. Like you had to go through that in order to realise you didn't have to do it anymore, like a grief reaction. I am glad you found your true passion.
I am lucky that I love swimming but when I am down I stop going. I need to push myself to go. But when I am in the water I always feel better. And it's one of the few places where I feel at peace. There is no TV, no one distracting me or annoying me.

The Entertrainer Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 8:21am

Sometimes I wonder if we know more about our true needs, passions and desires than we give ourselves credit for. We may not be able to answer deep questions about purpose in life, but, with a short pause in silence - away from distractions or annoying things (as Eliz has mentioned above) - and a sense of what we truly value and love can come flowing in. We have one life to live. It is our life. Let us make sure we are living our life and not someone else's pattern for our life.

Anonymous Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 8:42am

"Let us make sure we are living our life and not someone else's pattern for our life". I was very interested to note the Entertainer's quote, and to read Penny's piece. We have been having the selfsame conversations over Christmas! Our father died 2 years ago, and our mother was a vehicle for his wishes for us. Which were completely unattainable. Now, my siblings and I have resolved, we will be as true to ourselves as we can...after too ,too many years of pleasing others but not necessarily ourselves. Time to make the very best of the remainder of our lives and of the freedom we have to be ourselves at last. A lovely, liberating feeling.

Julia Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 9:19am

It's a great shame Penny that you felt such guilt. Who made you feel guilty you couldn't crochet like your mother ? It's very interesting this feeling of guilt. It's self destroying in many ways and I am so glad it took you only a short time to realise the futility of your feelings. Many of my actions since I have been depressed and/ or unable to sleep deeply have arisen from guilt at not being a lively energetic get up and go parent; I have compensated for this by giving giving giving and neglecting myself, my true needs in the process. Guilt is so complex but I guess there must be some positives in it! You have done well Penny and good luck with the sculpting. It sounds as if you have inherited some artistic skills from your mother perhaps and therefore are carrying on her legacy.

Anonymous Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 9:43am

Guilt, duty and living someone else's pattern is precisely where I was. Still picking up the pieces there and whilst I wish I could hurry that's impossible. Today is another of those days where I need to tiptoe through as I need to be amongst family. (It's the last thing I need, I need a proper break.) My mum has always been unaware of the pressure she placed at my feet, and I only discovered it through a counselling session as an adult when I was quite ill. I'm still very angry with myself for many, many things I did, and didn't do, because of her. She is not a bad person...I shouldnt complain but I find it really hard trying to let myself grow whilst keeping the pot from boiling over. Just made myself quite down writing that. But I suppose letting it come bit by bit is the right thing. Julia, ditto on the parenting. Love ratg x.

Julia Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 9:59am

Hi ratg. I really really know where you are coming from re. family. It's tip toeing most of the way. Today is the first break from what has been a very family orientated Xmas starting on the 12th December and ending yesterday. My sleep went into miserable mode but I was supposed to be joyous and happy throughout. After all I was surrounded by my family! You will get through today ratg and hopefully you will have a free day tomorrow?? (My mother stopped me from pursuing a masters degree in Scotland because she needed me to stay down south to help her emotionally with my dysfunctional elder sister..My mother is dead now and I always loved her and still do, but..)

Anonymous Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 10:09am

A very challenging piece for me, this one Penny - congratulations on focussing on what you want ....for me the hardest question darling Hubby can ask me is "what do you want to do?" I feel as if I need to see that everyone else is sorted before turning to me ... oh dear - this is really not healthy for me, nor for anyone else ... and oh darling ratg - tiptoeing through ... snap! Today is very much one of those days for me ... as for many I suspect at this time of year ... I found writing about my feelings hugely helpful (if painful in the process) so maybe more writing will help you ratg? And dear Julia, what sort of parent are you? Maybe a get up and go parent is not what your children need; maybe being true to yourself is what they actually need ... Thank-you all, wonderful Moodscopers, for being there ... Frankie

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 12:17pm

Oh Penny, so, so true. I also have a crafty mother! Or maybe that should be a crafting mother. I completely understand yourfeelings. I write and draw and papercraft and can create fantasy cakes but have no interest in patchwork or knitting or lace. I think I've finaaly stopped feeling guilty, but my mother is far more accepting than I of our different interests.

Anonymous Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 12:30pm

Julia and Frankie thank you. Having a minor wobble today and having you here helps xx. I know lack of routine and tiredness is magnifying everything and so recognising that is at least a step forward for me. Will do a little plan of how I want to come out the other side of today's function and hope that works. And yes, writing it out.

Anonymous Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 2:45pm

Perfect post for me at this time
I spent so much time trying to give everyone the Christmas I thought they wanted
It was chaos and then I discovered that my family are happy to be me! (whoever that is?)

Julia Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 4:10pm

Thank you Frankie for saying this. I do have a few regrets about how I parented but was under so much stress at the time, I really couldn't have done it any other way. That's the frustrating thing about depression, however hard one tries to be different, it just doesn't work. Yes I agree..I need to make sure everyone else is sorted out before I can decide what I want to do!! We are the same. x

Anonymous Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 5:27pm

There was a lovely quote on facebook the other day - that's the problem with putting others first; you've taught them you come second - and that seems to echo through much of parenting. This time of year is always challenging for me as both my parents died in between Christmas and New Year, albeit in different years. That always makes the celebrating seem a little off. But it is very odd as an adult to realise you are living by dead people's rules. And that those rules may never have been appropriate, but it can be difficult to challenge them as we were indoctrinated whilst young. Sorry, bit of a rambling post, but it can be very hard to actually know what you want as opposed to what you are supposed to want. Freya x

Anonymous Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 5:50pm

So true Freya, so true ... maybe next year you can let go of your idea of your parents' rules (YOUR idea, not necessarily theirs); maybe you can celebrate all the good in their lives ... wishing you peace of mind and heart ... Frankie

Anonymous Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 5:56pm

Thinking of you and wishing you peace of mind and heart; I am sure that everything is a great deal better than you are prepared to accept (!) Frankie

Anonymous Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 5:57pm

!!! xx Frankie

Anonymous Sun, Dec 28th 2014 @ 11:42pm

all those crafting things mentioned are from the same source and are just different and unique expressions of creativity, how wonderful that your and your mother both were blessed with that xx

Anonymous Mon, Dec 29th 2014 @ 11:38am

You have really hit the nail on the head with the phrase "..putting others first, you've taught them you come second." this has really made me think hard and decided to look at the new year with a change of perspective.

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