Originally published 3/10/10
I don’t know how or when to start to this. All I can say is perfection is rooted in me. For reasons I will never know perfection was expected of my sisters and me. Just so you understand this when I say perfection was expected, I don’t mean that my mom wanted us to always do our best. I mean perfection was expected. That we got grounded for bringing home B’s on our report cards and A- were extremely frowned upon. I took up trumpet when I was 3, and 6 months later was reprimanded for still being in the beginner book. My mom thought at 5 I just “wasn’t that smart” since I hadn’t mastered addition and subtraction yet.
And to top all of this was performance-based love. It would not be unusual to hear my mother tell us “I could love you as much as Kimberly if you brought home straight A’s” or “When you don’t play that solo on your trumpet right it just breaks my heart” If you ever had to be perfect to be loved you know the extent you will go to achieve it. And you also know that it is impossible to be perfect. Talk about a catch 22. We were expected to be straight A students and also be perfect at 2 instruments. One band, and one string. For my oldest sister it was violin and clarinet. For the other saxophone and cello. And for me, trumpet and viola. We got up at 5 A.M. to start practicing. My oldest sister was the prime example of this perfection. All of her classes were advance and she was always on honor roll. She had to do all her homework in school for after school was packed with rehearsals at Bethany college or private lessons from the college professors. This was my future. A future I didn’t want nor a future that I could ever mold into.
Even from the beginning, I was different. While my older sisters relished in being in the woodwork I always wanted to be the center of attention. (This was slightly difficult since my mom’s philosophy was children should be seen and not heard) I was disorganized and messy. Even in kindergarten I was getting in trouble for not following the rules. My mom would always ask why I couldn’t be like my sisters. They never got in trouble. They knew how to be quiet and listen. Even when doing work I had to be different. I was at an assessment one time and was asked to draw an upper case T. I took the line across the T went all the way across the paper, back up and around. Oh, how mad my mom was.
To make matters worse since I was a crack baby I think my mom just assumed I was slow. I couldn’t talk well and couldn’t read. (Hence I was at the assessment) And instead of looking to other reasons she just assumed I was slow and was trying to enroll me in their “special” program. Thank goodness for me they did an eye test and realized that I was far sided and couldn’t see. Got my glasses and some speech therapy and all of a sudden I could talk just like the next kid.
At some point (or maybe it was just who I was) I didn’t want to be that kid. I didn’t want to be like my sisters. I always struggled to remember to do my homework. I didn’t have the discipline to sit every night and fill out my spelling words. And I didn’t see the point. Kimberly worked so hard and did so much but mom would still tell her how she was falling short. How could I do better. I was already hearing how I wasn’t as good as them and if they couldn’t live up to my mom’s expectations how could I ever hope to. So I let my grades go. In third grade, I brought home a C. I think life just might have stopped. And then to top it all off. I got detention. I did the 2 things that had never been done before. My mom didn’t even what to do. At first. Then she got me where it hurt the most. She didn’t spank me as should would have done my sisters. She did worse. She told me I broke her heart. That she didn’t even want to look at me. She did it in such a way I thought she didn’t love me. But it didn’t have the effect she wanted. I broke. I realized at that moment I could never be good enough for her love. I knew deep down that I would disappoint her again and that I wasn’t perfect and therefore unlovable by my mom’s standards.
So I quit trying. I no longer cared about my homework. I would fake it through my practice. I accepted that I was unlovable. And for a girl who was already questioning what was wrong with her this was just another piece of evidence that I was defected. I was alone. I was an outcast at school and an outcast in my own home. I was alone. But I was soon going to find out just how much more my heart could break.