Although I will be addressing some difficult times, I would like to preface by saying that I would not change anything about my life. There have been obstacles to overcome but I think those obstacles made me into the person I am today. I truly believe that your life is what you make of it and that you cannot let circumstances bring you down. Nor can you use those circumstances as excuses to fail. Naturally, I do not remember Erik Erikson’s first stage of Basic trust vs. mistrust. I do think, however, that this stage had a huge impact on my life.
Unfortunately, my two-year-old brother passed away while I was in this stage. My father was outside mowing the yard and he asked Mikey to go inside with my mother. Mikey went through the back door, into the house, and out the front door. He then went across the street to the neighbor’s pool. My parents found his body but by that time it was too late. Because of his death, my parents became withdrawn and blamed each other. They separated a few months later. I have been told from numerous family members that prior to my brother’s death we had a close family. Looking back at pictures it seems that may have been the case.
I realize that my parents went through a difficult time but they were emotionally unavailable for years. I have revisited this stage often to resolve issues. Furthermore, I feel that even though my family went through a difficult time, I must have been somewhat satisfied during this time. Erikson said if there is a balance between trust and mistrust you have hope and I definitely believe in hope. Eriksons’ next stage is Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt. During this stage my mom began dating a man named Steve whom she eventually married. This man changed not only this stage in my life, but also my entire life.
He was verbally and physically abusive to my mother. Naturally, I was very frightened of him. While at home, I was very quiet and kept to myself. When I would go to my grandma’s house I would change into a completely different child. I was very independent and was not afraid of anything. My grandma was my protector so I would definitely come out of my shell while at her house. Initiative vs. guilt is Eriksons next stage. I spent the majority of this stage living with my grandma. I would play with my aunt and uncle (all three of us are very close in age). We played the imaginary games such as doctor, teacher, and cowboys and Indians.
We had lots of fun during this time but we also fought a lot. My mom said that I had a mind of my own. I wanted to do everything myself and did not want help from anyone. She also said that I would get extremely upset because I did not handle failure very well. Next we will visit Eriksons stage of Industry vs. inferiority. At this point I was off to school. I loved going to school and loved learning. I do not remember having many friends until I was in the second grade though. Looking back now, I realize that I was more interested in the approval of my teachers. I was classified as the “teachers pet” but I did not mind.
I enjoyed the interaction with them and was excited when it was my turn to be the teacher’s helper. When I was in the second grade my teacher saw some bruises on my legs. (I was about 5 or 6 when my stepfather, Steve, started physically abusing me. ) Naturally, I could not tell her what happened to me but she called the Department of Protective Services. Even though I was scared and I lied to everyone, it was great to know she cared. This teacher looked out for me all year and really helped me emotionally. Also during this time my grandma was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away when I was nine years old.
She was the only stability I had so her passing was tough for me to deal with. Adolescence was difficult for me as it probably is for everyone. Trying to figure out your identity is not always easy. I remember being in the stage of foreclosure. My mom insisted that I was going to be an attorney or Miss USA. I modeled and was in hundreds of beauty pageants. At times my self-esteem was great but at other times it was at rock bottom. I did not care or have any desire to decide what I wanted to do with myself. The only goal I had at that time was to do whatever it took to get away from my stepfather.
At this point in my life he started sexually abusing me. He did the typical thing and told me that I better not ever tell anyone. I never said anything until my mom asked me if something had happened. She then went into a state of denial. This was a huge turning point in our relationship. I moved in with my father (whom I had not seen since infancy) and did not speak to my mother again for about 10 years. My self-esteem and self-worth was at an all time low and I had difficulties in every aspect of my life. I do not think I found my identity until I was in my early 20’s.
During the next stage, Intimacy vs. solation, I completely changed my way of thinking. I think I was in complete turmoil until I became friends with Brian. It is really strange how things work out. When I first met Brian I wanted to date him. I thought he was beautiful and funny. He thought I needed a shrink! I probably did but instead he became my friend. He said that I was not ready to commit to anyone so we were just going to be friends. He was so right. We talked all the time. He helped me understand that I am a special person and he really helped me boost my confidence and self-worth. It was because of his talks that I started to analyze and deal with things from my past.
I finally was able to start my life without letting the past cripple me. I am so very thankful that I met Brian. He has truly been my best friend. We have been married for seven years now and have two beautiful daughters. Naturally we have our ups and downs but the good times definitely outweigh the bad! It is also because of Brian that I have developed relationships with both my mom and dad again. I had resentment towards my father for not being involved in my life. He claimed that my mother told him to stay away. I still have issues with that but we have a much better relationship now. I also reconciled with my mother.
Our relationship is not quite as dysfunctional as it was before. We talk all the time and she is very close to my daughters. My goals for the rest of my life are quite simple. I am currently pursuing a nursing degree. I hope to be accepted this spring so that I can start in the fall. Upon completion, I want to work at Mother Francis. I also want to be a good mother and wife. I want my children to know I am always there for them and I want nothing but the best for them. I am very pleased with my life now. I have not always been able to say that. But I truly believe that there is silver lining at the end of every dark cloud.