Oh God, Why Did You Make Me So Ugly!!!

As Quasimodo used to cry, alone in his bell tower.

And not forgetting my daughter.

Work sent me to a course on dealing with clients in ‘difficult situations’ and as part of it we learned to focus on feelings, listen and reflect what’s been said, leave solutions till last and then as the client’s prerogative.

I can do this.  For a while.  But when I ask my child in the morning, how are you? and get a dismal stare and the words,

Sad

I FEEL things I’m not supposed to feel.  Like anger.

You’re sad.  AGAIN.  How convenient. Wonder if there’s maths at school today. Why can’t you just be happy? Like me!  Then this can be a HAPPY household.  Everybody enjoying themselves, more or less.  Appreciating the good things of life, which we have got, in abundance.  You, sad!!! What have YOU got to be sad about!

I’m not good with negative emotions, I’m just not.  But because I’m a loving mother, and a good listener, I reflect, and probe.

“So you’re feeling down.  Why’s that?”

“Because I’m so ugly.”

YOU’RE ugly! says alter ego.  You want ugly? I’m ugly. And do I care? Not much. YOU are beautiful, beyond compare.  It would take a team of witches fifty years to brew up enough elixir of toad to make YOU ugly.

I bet you just want me to say it.  Again.  Let’s talk about your flaws – how you haven’t got any.  Let’s talk about how the boys at school all come and sit next to you at lunchtime.  What sweethearts they are, to park themselves next to such a turn off.

Now we’re late, you for school, I for work.  What the hell.  You cry and I stay home.  We talk about raising serotonin levels through diet and exercise, about doing a course in mindfulness together.  I think about calling a psychologist, tell myself ‘tomorrow maybe’.   I think,

I WISH ALL THE COMPUTERS IN THE WORLD WOULD JUST SELF DESTRUCT – ESPECIALLY THE ONE IN YOUR BEDROOM!

Not that you’re a social media addict, far from it.  But your room is your world.  A world with too many mirrors.  We paste times tables and the periodic table on them.  For good measure, we stick up a little list of Three Good Things.

You tell me what to put, I say, pen poised.  What’s the first Good Thing you can think of, in your life.

Mum.

I guess that’s something.  I wish I thought the same.  I wish love was enough.

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30 comments

  1. Sounds like you both need help. My daughter was very low last year. Lots of issues, but none were real, just her own perspective. My friend is a psychologist and gave me a good bit of guidance. I set a time limit of nine months to see some sort of improvement. Thankfully a year later, I have a much happier girl. I am still aware she has work to do but she has more “normal” concerns now. good luck.

    • I’m glad your daughter got better. I expect mine will too – giving it a time period’s a good idea (mind you, this has been going on, on and off, for a while). How old was she at the time?

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      • She was fifteen, and it had also been going on for a long time. I was happy to ignore it until one day I looked at her unhappiness and really saw it. The reason I put a time limit on it was I knew more time would pass and we would do nothing. So I said, how long from now would I think this should get better? I decided new year. And the thing is by sept things still were not great. But thankfully we got there. The time scale frightened her but I felt took the pressure off me, because we both had agreed on that time frame. Her difficulty was social anxiety.

      • Well, that’s interesting, thank you for sharing that. Maybe you’re right, maybe I should just bite the bullet and try a psych. She has been to counselling and done group work with other kids with anxiety issues – but she thinks compared to her they’re REALLY sick (and that’s what she thinks, not me). But then I think, if only I could get her out in the sunshine more, and moving around.

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  2. Oh my gosh! Straight from the heart my dear! Sorry I wrote you such a blathering response yesterday (via email). It’s really none of my biz to interfere with Ms. M.

    I know that anorexia and bulimia include body dysmorphic disorder; i have never heard of it “on its own”. But through blogging I’ve heard many people talk about their issue with this.

    I love that your honest about how irritating it is to have an unhappy camper in the household. I know I was a big bummer during 0 – 13. I cheered up after that when I started drinking. Not helpful.

    Good work for sticking with this. I suppose you don’t have a choice. Being mom to happy kids would be my choice. See, here’s one more reason I didn’t make the choice to have children; i couldn’t imagine raising a kid that turned out to be me (from 0 – 13). … or beyond, really. Plus, the men I could have married would have added to the angst.

    Rose, you’re a good mum. The fact that you don’t like negative emotions and ARE dealing with them; that’s freakin’ miraculous. THAT’S your ticket to karma! Yea! xo

    • thanks Mel. No it wasn’t a blathering response at all. I appreciated your advice – I just have a bit of a fear of psychs (mainly cause I think they’re mostly nuts). M is a very good kid. We do love each other a lot – but I do get really frustrated. Sympathy with me has got definite limits – after a while I get tired of being sympathetic and want to say stupid stuff, like, oh shutup for god’s sake, you’re gorgeous and now let’s just forget all about it and get on with life!’. But that’s not the right thing to say – so I struggle to suppress it and don’t always succeed. If you met my beautiful girl, you’d see how funny and clever and delightful she is. But WHY does she have to be sad! I think it does have something to do with the amount of time she spends glued to the screen or in bed.

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      • Oh honey. I truly hate to see you in pain. I know this bugs you. Or should I say i hate to see you in constant agitation? This is your “test” indeed. She will remember the “oh shut ups”, over the “let’s go out and have a picnic” … or searching to find something that interests her or SPEAKS to her more than the mirror.

        Hell, I blame TV, and MASS media, and the way kids are GLUED to laptops and iPhones … and how high school kids judge each other SO harshly on their appearance.

        Some kids, (maybe Ms. M) if they feel inadequate (in even the slightest way) will sometimes hone in on something that seems irrational. Probably, and most certainly she IS gorgeous, and maybe she thinks if you compliment what IS already perfect it will make up for the areas in which she feels inadequate. Don’t know. That’s my take. I’m doing a little back-tracking on my own struggle.

        It’s complex (is all I can say). Two medical professionals who you have to be REALLY wary of are dentists 😉 and pyschs. Yes, I was “raised” by them, but they were mostly keeping me company. The one i have now is probably 20 years younger than I but she is smart and pragmatic. We work on the issues that i tell her that I honestly need help with.

        We basically do evals every 6 mos where we write down specific issues that I need to work on. I only see one shrink twice a month, and I’m beginning to think she’s not necessary. Anyway, enough about me.

        Think about the possibility that she might need to tell you what’s really bugging her even if she has to burst out crying. It might be irritating and very hard.

        Thanks for being such a caring mom. I know this must consume your mind at the moment. xoxoxox

      • We did (do) spend a lot of time talking (well, me listening mostly) and she’s free to cry – she’s embarrassed to, though. Like me. We are so alike in lots of ways. and thanks, Mel..I’ll think about what you’ve said. It’ll be nice, I hope, when the two of us are overseas and can just wander about swimming off Greek islands and having coffee and sweets. Also, there’ll be millions of Mediterranean young men following us about all over the place, which will be tiresome, but might just start to convince her this whole ugliness thing is a bit of a furphy, as we say.

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      • I relish the idea of swimming in the Greeks seas and beating off men with a stick. Australia must be pushed further up on Don and my bucket list. We’re finding that we are planning more things than we’re actually enjoying in “real time”. We’ve sort of cramped up our schedule.

        I have nothing against a single-woman’s adventure though. I’ve done that most of my life. We’ll pick a spot and lay around and get sun and chubby with sweets! YES cream and chocolate and syrup! YUM! Here’s to Madame M turning into the butterfly (in her mind) sooner than later. xx

  3. So much packed into this. Fortunately, with my boys, I’ve never really had either one of them express concerns about inadequacy. In some respects, it’s the other way around. They’re too confident of themselves — which means they don’t study. No matter how poorly they’re doing in school.
    I’m not sure I would deal any better with the negative emotions/feelings. It’s a tough one. Particularly when, apparently, her negative feelings are so misplaced.
    When it comes to her feelings about her looks — what I have told a couple of friends who have those doubts — when you look in the mirror see yourself as those who love you see you. Somewhat difficult because of her age, but if she had a boyfriend or a lover — see yourself as he (or she) does.

    • Yeah, I think if she had an admiring boyfriend, she might feel a bit better. A lot of boys are clearly interested but she doesn’t trust them, she says they hand round dirty pics of their exes and stuff like that. Also she finds them intellectually inadequate and a bit boring. But maybe she’ll meet someone. I wish we could all see ourselves as the people who love us do – love makes such a difference to perceptions. The guy I used to love was old and balding but I thought he looked great – in itself, that was a beautiful thing. Too confident is another thing, huh! You want their bubble pricked, just a little, not too much!

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  4. Do you suppose some of these young women suffering these feelings of sadness has to do with peer pressure? There’s all that media too. Hormones are doing a drunken polka to add to the situation. All it takes is for a teen to see something she believes she’s not capable of, or feels she’s lacking–wishes she had so-and-so’s something or other. Then again, someone might have made a remark–and not necessarily directed towards her–got her thinking negatively.

    It’s been a long time since I was this age but I DO recall how blue I was, especially around that time of month. Hope you two can figure this out.

    My oldest granddaughter is only NINE, going on 30. She has such mood swings (every so often), its upsetting. She’s sensitive, gets low and won’t talk about it. What the heck is going to happen when she’s a teen.

    Is it really true that life was simpler when I was a teen?

    • I think you forget how complicated life was. Then it seems simple, in retrospect. But in ‘my day’, nobody went to a psych, or had ‘a condition’. You just stomped through whatever mud you had to. With M, I think someone told her (at 13 or so) that she was flat chested, and that consumed her for years, apparently. Now she’s not at all, she’s slim and beautifully curvaceous. But the idea of having flaws seems to have stuck.

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  5. Like King Midget, having only boys, I’ve been fortunate to not have to deal with this issue (not that boys can’t have self-esteem issues; of course, they can). I think it helps that neither of my sons is interested in social media, even at the ages of 13 and 16. I wish you well in dealing with your daughter’s struggles. Society puts so much pressure on girls to focus on their outward appearance.

    • M isn’t interested in social media either, and she thinks most of her peers are stupid and oversexed. I agree about the pressure, though – it must be just subliminal. My son (while very lovely and lovable) is smelly, monobrowed, plumpish and not altogether clean – and he doesn’t give a stuff, as far as anyone can tell.

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  6. I hope it’s one of those self-perceptions that will fade as she gets older and wiser, and sees the world through a wider lens than she has now.
    Either way, I’m glad she has a mother who takes the time to listen and help her along.

    • Thanks Hook. I’m hoping it’ll pass. maybe it’s like the Terrible Twos, only the Terrible Fifteens. Also, I’m going to buy posters of kittens and stick them all over her mirror so she can’t look.

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  7. I too have problems being the sympathetic one at times…and I’m so glad I had a boy and not a girl, he was easy, besides a few ups and downs and a bit of social anxiety that we dealt with. Girls are harder, more emotional, especially the smart ones. I think the important thing is to just keep listening and biting your tongue when you want to say “Oh fer fucks sake, just be happy!”

      • My boy gives a fuck,but his emotions were simple compared to a girls. All in all though, I’m glad he’s 26 and a self contained adult! He still comes to me at times, but it’s no where near as freaky as those teenage years!

  8. One who is sent here on this planet of ours by our Lord is sent with a mission of His own. The being we have; the thoughts we nurture; the perspective we are having for ourselves and others; the positive change we want to usher in life; the type of life we want to live; the relationship we want to have; the freedom of expression we want enjoying; the relations we are having who give us warmth and sustenance whenever we are low; and FINALLY OUR LORD who is the Controller – in – Chief of all these can make huge difference.

    If everything is in us then why not to explore in our own self and come with a solution that may change our perspective. Who does not have lows and highs in life. BUT THE ONE WHO TAKES LOW AND HIGHS IN THE SIMILAR VEIN LIVE A LIFE FULL OF VERVE AND ENTHUSIASM.

  9. This touched my heart. It is such an exquisite piece of writing on the nightmare of every parent, that of passing our own issues on to our children, of them wrestling with the same issues we’ve wrestled with, of us knowing the answers to the questions they’re struggling with but unable to teach them, of us seeing them fight the demons we’ve fought and unable to help, but hoping and worrying.

  10. Thanks DE. It’s true that M’s issues are in a sense my issues – except that M is so very beautiful, whereas I can say, without much regret or angst, am quite plain. It puzzles me that anyone of such obvious beauty should feel so bad about themselves, but then these things don’t seem to fall out as you’d think they would.

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