Success in Life

When you have a child with a spouse, under inauspicious circumstances, like trying to escape a very restrictive home environment, with neither freedom nor fun activity, but instead arguments constantly, disrespect between spouses, violence even, deteriorating further, ALL YOU WANT TO DO IS ESCAPE THAT PRISON! Now this is your backdrop for your own entrance into a marriage that was ill conceived from the get go. You only had this example to use also in your choice for a spouse.

One goal: have a child, or several. Make sure there is sufficient money coming in for the support of said child, and spouse. That is it. Your sole criterion. Escape dungeon of parents who do not listen to you as you wail about the injustice of only marriage for sexual expression, and no other outlet, ever. And then of course, in those days, only heterosexual marriage, to boot. What if you were gay? Nope, no outlet for that. It was 1963, and the sexual revolution was about the birth control pill, not other sexual activity. Women who slept with anyone other than a spouse were considered whores then. Men were given a free pass, however, by themselves. Double standard.

Jerry met Harriett on a double date. Both came into this arrangement with the aforementioned circumstances. Jerry didn’t know Harriett had a child already out of wedlock, given up for adoption 6 years before. Jerry was the closeted gay guy, all through his life, he kept it mum, but it reared its ugly head, to the detriment of that spouse and that eventual child. Never honest, never happy, never free, to express himself, he went berserk, in his 40’s, because you can’t fit a rectangle into a square. And they were really bad for each other, with life perspectives in conflict. Always violence, always disrespect, always that one girl watching, crying, absorbing the trauma, without any known recourse elsewhere. And these were her example for the future as well. What future??

I never had a chance at romantic success really. A wonder that I was able to be successful at several professions even: stockbroker, teacher, registered nurse, property manager, event coordinator, writer, travel photographer, name it. Yes, many hats worn. Even if I never sold a single stock to anyone, it still mattered later, when I was able to use the knowledge for myself, and to do better for people all around me as well. The success I have today is a reflection of all I did before, leading up to this point. So yes, success delayed, but real.

My father had only two criteria for success for me: that I support myself without any need from him or the family and that I marry and have children of my own. If I failed at these things, it was because I was set up from the beginning with very dire environment and bad genetics to boot. Being the only child of such a marriage, it was no chance from the beginning, to have such success. Bad coping mechanisms became the order of the day, and they became ingrained. It was clear I would need therapy to sort it out, but due to the inevitable divorce of my parents, and subsequent poverty that resulted from that, and my mom taking up with a drunk boyfriend, for 20 years, well, it went from bad to worse. Secrets and lies were the currency we dealt with there, trapped in irony and penury. There is a relationship between the life you get, and the life you grew up in.

I never had a chance. I was overly sensitive as well. Writing became a refuge. A way to deal publicly with trauma,  and hope it helps someone else see a different way. It became clear that dad was also a narcissist, in his narrow viewpoint of what my success was. Nothing I did was ever enough. Criticism all through, amplified by my growing body, not by pregnancy, but maladaptive coping by eating too much. Not enough happiness. Fat is proportional to how happy you are. But at least I finally understand as I wind down my years on Earth. I can give a life report to the elders who came before me, once on the Far Side, the other world.

I know that I did succeed in all the life ways that matter, not just those 2 criteria. I have decided to be the opposite of what my parents showed me, in terms of the bad things anyway. I do good for everyone around me and treat everyone fairly, the way I want to be treated. That is the true measure of success! AND I laugh often and revel in the joy of others too, not just myself. Can’t argue with that. I am fortunate. And the changed life is one I built as well, by business decisions I made, with my cousins. My education has been quite diverse, which was fortuitous. Everything was made use of, MBA and MA training, hard work, persistence, loyalty, prodigious amounts of love, not bottled up!

 

And the footnote: though not married, well, really a lot of romantic freedom, getting my freak on! That means not a lot of boredom, folks!

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