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not about me
I just started to cry. That means that what I am writing about is very important. So please pay attention closely.
This is a story I have never written about on this website.
It happened to me when I was living in Florida in the 90's.
A mother told me the story.
She grew up in a very dysfunctional family. She realized it and she was working hard, very hard to recover and change how she raised her daughter.
She told her daughter many times that when mom is yelling at her and "losing it" she wanted the daughter to say this to herself:
It's not about me.
I needed to stop typing after I wrote that. I needed to close my eyes. Catch my breath.
This is so important. So very very very important.
Tell your children it is not about them.
They are NOT responsible for your pain, your problems, your dysfunction.
I don't remember the woman's name now, but I will call her Cynthia. Cynthia told me that one day she was driving her daughter to school. Her daughter was about 11 at the time. Cynthia had "lost it." She was yelling at her daughter, who I will call Amy. She was saying hurtful things, even emotionally abusive things.
Any other child would have probably believed that they had upset their mother. They would have believed they deserved to be the victim of the verbal and psychological attack. But not Amy.
To her profound credit, Cynthia had prepared Amy for just such an occasion. So Amy was ready. As ready as an 11 year old who is trapped in a moving car with an emotionally out of control adult can be.
Cynthia never regained control of herself before she dropped Amy off. The last words Cynthia said before Amy stepped out of the car were, "Get out! I don't want to see your face!"
Later in the day, when Cynthia calmed down, got some self-awareness and realized what she had done, she felt terribly guilty. She felt afraid she had seriously damaged her daughter. She had no way to contact her for the rest of the day until she picked her up in the afternoon. She was filled with guilt and remorse.
As soon as she saw Amy she ran to her and hugged her. They both started to cry. They both immediately understood what had happened.
Cynthia apologized profusely. Amy, being much younger, closer to her near perfect nature and much less damaged than her mother, was able to quickly forgive her mother. She said, "It's okay mom."
Cynthia was shocked. She was in disbelief. She didn't understand how her daughter could accept her apology so quickly and easily. She asked her, "How can you say it's ok when what I did was so wrong?"
Amy replied, "Because I remembered what you told me, mom. As you were yelling I tried not to listen to what you were saying. I tried to block it out. And kept telling myself:
It's not about me. It's not about me. It's not about me.
These words saved Amy that day. And they saved the relationship between a mother and daughter.
Please, if you have been a victim of a dysfunctional family, teach your children that it is not about them. Teach them to block out what you say and to repeat to themselves,
It's not about me.
S. Hein - 2012
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Intelligence | Empathy
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