Ten Reasons I Am Not My Daughter’s Best Friend

When I hear women say “my daughter is my best friend,” I envision uncomfortable conversations without boundaries. I also think of a lack of safety net for the daughter who occasionally just needs her mom.  To me it would diminish the role I play in her life which is different than the women she has welcomed into her tribe. She needs both but for unique reasons.

My daughter is not my best friend. Nor does she want to be.  But she is my favorite person to run my writings by because she has a brilliant mind and we have that interest in common.  When it comes to emotional sharing, I am the woman in her life that will give an honest opinion (often unsolicited) but also nurture her when life happens. Now, I am not saying we don’t have a friendship.  We do and it is beautiful and I wouldn’t know what to do without it.  But there are boundaries and we both agree where that line is drawn with mutual respect.

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Here are the top 10 reasons we can’t be best friends.

 

  1. As a mother, occasionally we say motherly things that piss our kids off, even when they are adults.

During those moments that I am being motherly and getting on her last nerve she needs the reflection of women her age, experiencing the same thing, to help gain perspective and hopefully forgive me. But because I have not positioned myself as “bestie”, she does not talk to me disrespectfully, even when we don’t see eye to eye. There is still a reverence for my authority.

 

  1. Her kids are my grandkids so I don’t tell her how to raise them.

Although I raised kids myself, I look at my grandkids through the eyes of a grandmother. I am not as helpful in giving child rearing feedback as mothers her own age.  I have not kept up on the progression of childrearing. Things are done differently than how I remember. But I can give her a break when she needs and give the grands love and memories. That is my role in their lives. They don’t need two mothers.

 

  1. I don’t want to see my daughter flirt. I doubt my daughter wants to see me flirt.

Now this would only be relevant if we were both single adults, which we are not and have never been at the same time. But I have seen mothers that turn their beautiful young daughters into their wing-woman out on the town. Plus, have you seen my daughter, she is gorgeous. Competing with her, talk about a self-esteem blow, no thanks!

 

  1. I lean on my friends and/or my husband for emotional support, not my children.

I have witnessed very blurred emotional boundaries between mothers and daughters. Turning their children against people by soliciting sympathy and creating guilt. These women struggle to have mature friendships. They expect their children to always be dependent on them and stifle the natural evolution of leaving the nest.  I don’t define myself through my children’s lives. I always knew someday they would grow up. I looked forward to that day and just prayed I gave them the tools to persevere.

 

  1. I would offer financial help if needed.

If my friends or other family members are having financial problems I would be reluctant to help as I know how money matters effect relationships. If my child needs me, I would find a way to help them and also make them accountable for paying me back.

 

  1. Talking about sex…uh awkward.

I have shared those racy, detailed conversations with my besties. I have quite the Sex in the City tribe. I do not wish to share my personal experiences with my child and I know she would feel the same. The topic of sex is not taboo, I am open-minded. We just maintain appropriate boundaries in discussing it.

 

  1. Drinking to relax, not to get trashed.

My daughter and I love having grown up conversation discussing inspiring books and life coaches we have learned about, gossiping about family and catching up on our spiritual growth. Often we are enjoying a glass of wine or bottle of beer in these moments. This doesn’t lead to obnoxious intoxication. That behavior is reserved for my friends and my younger self.

 

  1. I want to protect my daughter but I know she has to learn some things the hard way.

There are times in life when people treat you like shit.  Your best friend will have your back and offer support such as, “Where is that bitch, let me at her.”  But as a mother I am more inclined to say. “That really sucks honey, I know you don’t deserve this. If we can’t change it, is there a lesson we can learn from this?”

 

  1. If we are upset with each other, breaking up is not an option.

I have had friendships that lasted years and then ended for multiple reasons. We grew apart, there was a boundary breach or one of us moved and did not stay in touch.  In some cases, pretty hurtful words were exchanged. This is not an option for my relationship with my daughter. I would never allow things to disconnect us. We would have no choice but to work it out.

 

  1. Someday I will leave this world.

After the death of my mom I was one of the main voices in deciding things for her burial. Not her friends, parents or siblings. The funeral home looked to her husband and children to be responsible for honoring her life and paying the bill. My daughter will be in those shoes one day. It won’t be my friends input that counts. Her opinion will be of utmost importance in the last event of my life.  This is when she will really need her closest friends and they will surround her with love and their own personal stories of what they remember about her mom. This is when she will be the most grateful that we had that boundary. Although she will feel a void and mourn, my passing will not wreck her as she has invested her time and love in other relationships that will sustain her.

 

 

 

 

 

Unshackled: Freeing Myself from the Shame of Rape

 

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As I read the articles surrounding the Stanford University rape case, I am taken back to a dark time in my life. Years ago I was the victim of an assault, yet I vaguely remembered the details due to intoxication. I endured secondary victimization by a system designed to prosecute criminals. Shame cast a shadow over my life for years due to the stigma that society places on these kinds of cases.

It was the early 1990’s. I lived on an army post in Alaska with my husband, a soldier at the time, and our two year old daughter. I had just turned 21. Summertime in Alaska was not cold and dreary like some people in the lower 48 envision. Quite the contrary; summers were full of cookouts, volleyball and long lasting daylight.  We were a close knit community. We trusted our neighbors and looked out for each other. 

Summer solstice landed on a Saturday this particular year.  This is when there is approximately 22 hours of daylight and most of our neighbors were partying.  We dropped our daughter off at our close neighbor’s house and ventured out for some adult fun.  Drinking wasn’t something I did very often as I had a young child to raise, but this night I decided to cut loose.  We drank several mixed drinks, numerous beers and enjoyed the company of our friends.  As the morning hours approached my husband and I both had too much to drink.  He stumbled into the house, vomited on the living room floor and passed out on the couch.

I was sitting on our porch when I saw a neighbor from our building. I asked if I could borrow carpet cleaner.  While she was running home to grab it another neighbor overheard and he sat down and started talking to me on the porch. I offered him a drink and he followed me into the house.  He and his wife lived a few doors down. We would greet in passing but we didn’t know them very well.  He mentioned that his wife and daughter had already flown back to their home state and he was waiting behind to finalize paperwork.  He was getting out of the Army.

I noticed that my husband had already found his way to our bedroom upstairs. Our neighbor returned with the cleaner I requested. She stayed for a drink and then left again, leaving the two of us alone.  He asked if he could play on our video game console.  We chatted as he played.  I was sitting next to him on the couch when he started rubbing my back.  Even in my intoxicated state this made me uncomfortable.  I told him I should go to bed and led him to the door.  I made my way to my bedroom and passed out next to my husband on our bed.

The thing about summertime in Alaska is that the nights are not dark so we used aluminum over our bedroom window. In the pitch dark I was jostled awake. I felt the weight of a body on me as I slept on my stomach.  I then realized there was thrusting. I was being sexually penetrated. I felt warm breath on the back of my head and muffled grunts in my ear. In my state of confusion I assumed it was my husband but this was not a normal occurrence. I spread my arm out and felt my husband’s sleeping body next to mine. Who is on me? 

An involuntary scream escaped my mouth.  The body lifted from me and I heard a thump on the floor next to my side of the bed. My scream woke up my husband.  Hysterically, I yelled that someone was in our room.  My husband turned on our bedroom light to find the neighbor lying next to our bed. His pants still hanging at his ankles. 

Jumping out of bed I ran down the stairs, closely followed by my husband dragging the intruder. I heard grunts and more thumping sounds trailing behind me.  By the time they made it to the front door the MPs (military police) had already arrived.  Our neighbors heard the commotion and called the police.  As I stood stunned, they tried to arrest my husband for assault. I tried to comprehend what was happening and convey this to the MPs. Admittedly I was still intoxicated, lacking sleep and in a state of shock.

The next few hours were a whirlwind of confusion and the shame started to settle on my soul. I was taken to the hospital and examined.  A camera was used to take pictures of my most personal parts.  My body was placed on an exam table, swabbed and left powerless by the probing.  Investigators questioned me, hurriedly writing notes. I sensed skepticism as I stumbled to recall the details of the last 12 hours. The doctor gave me a pill to ensure that I would not bear the child of the rapist, vomiting and cramping ensued for two days as a result. 

Investigators came into our home to assess the crime scene and take evidence.  Evidence apparently is anything that makes the person who was assaulted look like they deserved it.  My private journal was taken from my nightstand. The silky night gown I was wearing that night, given to me as a bridal shower gift, confiscated. Grandma’s handmade quilt which we slept under was stripped from our bed and taken from our home.  All of this was submitted as evidence with the case number written across it with a bold sharpie. These personal items were given back to me after the trial as if they weren’t tainted. As if they would serve a purpose in my life ever again. As if the numbers didn’t read SHAME when I saw them. I threw it all away, wishing I could discard with them the events of that early morning.

I didn’t want to call it rape. I was drunk and so was he. I didn’t have vivid memories of the actual act. Doesn’t it have to be brutal to be called something as vile as rape? Why don’t I have scars and bruises?  My suffering is on the inside, how can I call this rape? He was nice when I met him. I was friendly, did I deserve it? Did I lead him on in some way?  Even if I did, he did not have the right to enter my room uninvited and do what he did. Did he?  I had so many thoughts swarming my head.

I cringed when well intended neighbors asked if everything was okay.  Why the MPs were at our house that morning. Explaining it was too hard and embarrassing. I had lost control over my life. I started pulling away from people, including my husband.

The months that followed leading up to the trial were emotionally draining.  I endured numerous interviews with JAG (judge advocate general) probing into my personal life, my sexual past, the state of my marriage.  I worked in a public place on post and I had to request a restraining order as the perpetrator would show up at my work and leer at me as a form of intimidation.  

I received a phone call from his wife. Another victim left in the path of his choices. She found my number and in a fit of desperation she begged me to change my testimony. He told her that I had invited him into our room. That I was angry at my husband for drinking so much.  I ached as I listened to her pleas. Her mournful sobs. I understood her denial. Her mind trying  to protect you from what her heart couldn’t bare. I told her that I was sorry that the truth was hurting her but I couldn’t change it.  I then realized how manipulative he really was and it made me stronger to be bold in my testimony. 

All of this put a strain on our young marriage. My husband lived with the guilt of not protecting me. I lived with the shame of not being in control that night. We stopped talking about our feelings.  During all this he was called up for five months of training which was really important for advancing in his career.  I did not ask him to stay and I felt abandoned that he chose to leave during this vulnerable time.  This was the beginning of the end for our marriage.

The day of the trial finally arrives. I don’t recall how long this process took.  I remember feeling like I was having an out-of-body experience. Details of how the perpetrator was uncircumcised came up in court; I had to hear how forensic evidence was found in his skin folds proving that sexual contact did happen even though my brain tried to deny it. I had to fight back tears as they read excerpts from my journal.  My feelings about my marriage and some of the typical fights that young couples have that I had chronicled. I felt betrayed by my own words.

Physical evidence showed his boot marks on the siding of our duplex where he entered through the kitchen window. This contradicted his testimony that I left the front door unlocked for him. I gave my testimony and listened in disbelief and anger to his lies on the stand about how I wanted him to join me in my marital bed.  Anyone that knew my husband at the time would know how ridiculous that sounds. That would be like throwing someone into a lion’s den. 

As the judge read the verdict and sentenced him to 7 years at Ft. Leavenworth all I felt was relief. Relief that this was over.  It wasn’t until years later that the justice of it all really hit me.  I still felt so much shame and guilt that my choices that night left me vulnerable to the events that transpired. I felt responsible for my part and the shame became a part of me.

When I would hear news stories of brutal rapes through the years, my shame would return.  A man is behind bars for a crime that I can barely remember. I felt I didn’t have the right to my bad feelings when there are others that had much more traumatic experiences. Depression and anxiety became my companions as I denied my feelings.  It took years of therapy to start the process of letting go of my guilt and to face that what he did was a crime. I may have been barely conscious, but anyone capable of doing this to someone without consent is not a good person.  They are a criminal. If this had happened to my daughter, I would want justice.

I went on the stand mostly to defend myself from his lies and tell the truth. I wasn’t given the choice not to take the stand. I was called as a witness for the prosecution. He committed his crime on government property and as a soldier in the armed forces, he was being court-martialed. His sentencing was secondary to me.  If I hadn’t been forced into trial I don’t know if I would have pursued prosecution. I would have dealt with the pain privately. He would have gotten away with it. But I am grateful that there was judicial justice in all this.  My wounds may not be visible to those that see me, but they are there and run deep. They had a part in destroying my first marriage.  My openness and trust were marred and I still struggle with trusting my instincts.

It has taken me over 20 years to tell my story in a public capacity. I am ready to finally lay my shame to rest and to help others do the same. As uncomfortable as it is for me to share something so personal, I am encouraged to help someone else suffering from the same negative feelings I have endured.  

Please hear me; you did nothing to deserve this. It wasn’t about what you wore, what you said, how you acted or your sexual past. Someone took advantage of you.  If you have inflicted this kind of pain on another soul, take responsibility for your actions. If someone is unable to respond, then you do not have sexual consent. If someone gets you revved up but then changes their mind, you still do not have sexual consent.

Anyone that thinks that “20 minutes of action” is not worthy of a criminal conviction (as quoted by the father of the man on trial for the Stanford rape) then you have no moral compass. It takes someone who is already mentally unstable and/or morally corrupt to commit an act of violence like this. Intoxication does not dismiss you from responsibility. Another person’s intoxication does not lend them to your impulses. Stop making excuses for those that need to be accountable for their actions.  Stop turning the tables on people who have been sexually assaulted and looking for how they “asked” for it.  Stop this rape culture and teach our young people that intoxication is not an excuse for abhorrent behavior.

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Ode to Mother

My sweet mama passed away from cancer in 2009. I wrote this poem in her honor.

I can still hear your voice

Soft words of comfort

As if cancer hadn’t changed everything

Love & hope in your smile

Worn bravely ‘til the end

With the angels you presently sing

Another Christmas has passed

No more scented bath soaps

Nor religious books you were known to give

My heart aches for your husband

Though you are missed by us kids

With him is where your life had been lived

I learned more from your death

And your fight to survive

Than I ever did learn from your life

Never knew the real you

Or the strength you possessed

Just saw you as mother & wife

You seemed so insecure

As you raised us kids

You represented what I feared to be

Emotionally weak

A life not your own

I desired so much more for me

Notably different than you

I defy being fenced

You were careful to not cross the line

I am bold with strength

A trait you admired in me

You often told me I’d always be fine

Please forgive me mother

I understand now

Just who you were & why

You were true to yourself

In your own simple way

You did what you had to get by

Your reassuring hand

Felt gently on my skin

From Heaven above it descends

I know in my heart

As distinct as we were

When we parted, we had made our amends

~Tre   12/2010

 

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The Only Thing You Have To Fear

This is a post from my previous blogspot page, but I have had some new life changes that caused me to dig this up & be reinspired. I hope you enjoy! 

Last week our office environment was shifted by the onset of an intruder.  Not a murderous trespasser, but one deemed as an inconvenience to our mundane routine.  You see, in the office space I occupy there is plenty of estrogen looming about the cubicles.  If you have ever worked in such a climate you understand how territorial we woman can become.  What compounded the insecurity was the fact that this newbie, an intern, happens to be “close” friends with the one woman who holds the gavel on our jobs.

I’m not at all proud to admit this, but by day two, I had succumbed to the bellyaching. My immediate supervisor approached me about finding busy work to keep newbie out of everyone’s way.  I wasn’t thrilled about this. You see, December was a rough month. I was inundated with work.  I flew to a conference the first week of December a few states away. My souvenir was a terrible head & chest cold, causing me to miss an additional day of work. Only to be told upon my return that I had one day to catch up on work that I admittedly should have taken care of before my trip, but never found the time.  So, one of my initial concerns was that I didn’t want to end up in the same situation. Sacrificing my time to accommodate this woman; causing my own work to fall behind once more.

Day three: My coworkers are approaching me one by one. Venting about what a hassle it is to have newbie around.  Of course, the underlying concern is: who would newbie replace if the gavel holder decided she wanted to find a permanent spot for her? We currently have no openings so someone would have to be ousted.  I typically don’t get mixed up in the drama that is the office. But this one had me concerned.   I like to believe that I am a valuable employee, but who wouldn’t?  I am approachable, making it my personal mission to make people feel welcome.  This was no exception. I took newbie under my wing. I discussed with her my experience in this field, filling her in on the pros & cons. I had sympathy for her & fought back the urge to be guarded.  I felt a responsibility to her as a fellow professional & woman to provide valuable insight on this career. By the end of this day, newbie gleefully peeks around my cubicle to thank me for helping her. Then she added these words that sent me into a spin, “After watching the type of work the other girls do here, I’ve decided your job is what I really would like to do. It seems a lot more interesting to me”.  Did she really just tell me she wants MY job?

That night I went home with her words on my mind.  I allowed insecurity to prevail. Thinking about how hard I have worked to get where I am in this career; how fragile this job has felt for the last year or so due to various factors.  I cringe recalling the thoughts that were racing through my mind. How do I sabotage or manipulate newbie?  I can’t just sit by & let someone steal my job, handing it over wrapped in a bow.  As I went to bed pondering these thoughts, another thought came to me.

 “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself….”                    –Franklin D Roosevelt

Why was I so scared?  I have dealt with many situations that were out of my control. I have come to the conclusion numerous times in my life that control is simply an illusion anyway.  Why am I allowing myself to get worked up over a big “what if”?  So, what if she were able to undermine me & steal my job? I have options. I could go back to school. Like many times I’ve been forced into a corner, I have always found a way to come out ahead.

With this quote in my head I drifted off to sleep. I walked into the office the next morning & found a renewed strength to face whatever life has to offer.   I realized that what I feared was not what newbie or gavel holder could ultimately do to me. What I feared most was not having the ability to handle whatever may be thrown in my path.  As long as you believe in yourself, as long as you have the resourcefulness to overcome any challenge. You really don’t have anything to fear.    ~Tre

Note: Newbie did not take anyone’s jobs afterall. She went on to work for another company. But not without first befriending me & letting me know how valuable my training was for her. If I had let my insecurity win, I would have lost out on a wonderful opportunity to mentor (which is something I love to do.) It was a great lesson. It also ironically made me feel more secure knowing that out of the other girls she had to work beside, I was the only one who stayed in touch with her. We have had dinner a few times since she left her internship.

I believe the best way to nuture your spirit & become a better person is to make mistakes, learn from them & share them with those that are also on a quest to grow. This is my attempt to do just that. Thanks for reading.