I am excited to welcome my friend and fellow truth seeker, Pam Witzemann back to Emerging from Broken. Pam busts through the fog with this two part article about living under constant judgment and disapproval. Pam is a regular participant in almost all the discussions here in EFB and has her own blog; “Boomer Back-beat ~ Talking bout our generation”. Please help me welcome Pam by leaving your comments or by clicking the ‘like button’. As always I am looking forward to the conversation! ~ Darlene Ouimet
Judgementalism: A Cloud of Disapproval and Condemnation by Pam Witzemann
I could never please my mother, who was very judgmental of me. I grew up within a cloud of disapproval and condemnation that robbed me of self-confidence, healthy self-esteem, and the ability to self-validate.
“You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” That expression summed up my daily life in childhood. No matter what I did, I couldn’t please my mother. If I did something right, any praise I received was coupled with a reminder of how I’d messed up in the past. There were also, constant questions as to whether I would repeat any past wrong doing in the future. My mom viewed everything I did or didn’t do as a personal attack. She didn’t like me and I was pretty sure that she thought I was out to get her. I was my mother’s evil daughter destined to live a life that a mother could only, disapprove of. That was the life my mother chose for me and as a child, I was unable to see an alternative. I believed that I was a bad child, the black sheep, and I fulfilled what my mother expected from me.
“If you have the name, you might as well play the game.” This was the logic that guided me during my teenage years. When I was 13, my math teacher told me that I worked awfully hard at being bad. He was right because inside, I wasn’t a bad child but no matter what I did, my mother saw me as her evil daughter. Everything she accused me of, I eventually, tried on for size. She accused me of using drugs, so I did. She never accepted what I told her as the truth so, I learned to lie. The only good thing she ever told me about myself was that I was pretty. My self-value was centered around my looks and the attention I received from boys was my only source of self-esteem. What I really wanted was my mother’s approval but I never earned that approval. My mother’s judgment of me was harsh and the cloud of disapproval she hung over my head, so dense that I don’t think she ever saw me for who I really am. When I’m around her, I forget who I am too. I tense up and protective walls are raised because the only way to protect myself from the condemnation that is sure to come, is to never let her get close enough to see what I really think or feel. I don’t trust my mother and she doesn’t trust me. I speak of our relationship in the past tense, not because she is dead, but because our relationship died from a basic lack of trust. The truth is my mother never knew me and because she refuses to respect me and accept the truth about my life and our relationship, she probably, never will.
“Well, kick yourself in the butt and get over it! You’ve made your bed now, lay in it!” Judgmental people are miserable comforters. They love to be present during a crisis and offer their help in the form of pronouncing judgments on everything the injured party has done to bring misfortune upon themselves. In the cloud of disapproval that judgmental people cast around their target, perpetrators become reasonable and victims are to blame. Whenever someone hurt me, my mother would take their side and explain what I did wrong that caused them treat me poorly. My mother never had my back and I knew from an early age that it was me against the world. “People get what they deserve“. When people hurt me, I knew that somehow, it was my fault and there was no one to go to for sympathy, in my house. For a long time, I believed what my mother believed about me and I was unable to make a simple decision without questioning my motives and ability. Just as my mother never trusted me, I learned not to trust myself. When someone hurt me, I immediately, turned my thoughts inward, and searched for what I did to invite mistreatment. The cloud of disapproval I grew up under caused me to think others always knew better than I did, as to what was good for me. I was incapable of making good decisions for myself. I needed a second opinion on everything. I became a follower and lived my life in hopes of pleasing others and gaining approval. I would do whatever someone asked if they showed me the slightest approval.
“Girls get raped because they dress too sexy, or behave in a way that asks for it“. When I was raped at 14, it didn’t matter if I had said ‘no’ and didn’t want it to happen. I hadn’t fought hard enough. It was my fault. I knew it was because I was bad. The skirt I’d worn that day was too short and my girlfriend and I had been playing with makeup, when her dad and older brother came in. It was the way I was dressed that caused her dad to make remarks about how beautiful I was, as he told me to turn my face from side to side, so that he and his son could admire me. I knew it was my fault because of the humiliation I felt when he told me to stand up and turn completely around. It was confusing when my girlfriend’s dad wouldn’t let my girlfriend and I stay in the same room. Instead, I was to sleep in her older brother’s room and he was supposed to sleep with his little brother. When my friend’s older brother came into his room in the middle of the night, what happened was my fault because I was afraid her dad would hear. I was intimidated, afraid that if I fought him and made too much noise, his dad would come in. I was sure all of it was my fault. I’d been taught that good girls didn’t ever let boys do those things. I hadn’t been able to stop him. I was a bad girl and I could never tell my mother what had happened to me. I did tell my sister but I described what happened the way I understood it. I was bad and it was my fault. The inevitable happened because I was a bad girl. My mother was right. I asked for it by wearing a short skirt (when my mother told me not to) and wearing makeup. The cloud of disapproval thickened and I hated myself. I couldn’t stand myself and a few weeks later, was the first time that I ran away from home; but I couldn’t run away from me. Since I was so bad, I gave myself over to being bad and ran away from myself by using drugs. For over thirty years, I never told anyone, besides my sister about what happened to me and for over thirty years, I understood being raped as my fault.
“You can’t outrun the past. God forgives you but you still have to pay the consequences for your sins”. “Your life lies before you, like drifts of pure white snow; be careful how you tread it, for every step will show.” From the time I was raped at 14 until I was 19, I lived my life fully, under the cloud of my mother’s disapproval. I was a condemned child, a ‘bad girl’. At almost 16, a hebephile told me that I was a beautiful woman and he loved me. I didn’t know he was a hebephile or that it was wrong for grown men to like teenagers. I didn’t even know what a pedophile was or know the word. I thought there was nothing wrong with a man more than ten years older than me asking me to move in with him. After all, my mom was only 18 and my dad 28 when they were married. My mother told me that it was better to go with older men because girls mature faster than boys. I saw his invitation as a way to get out from under my mother’s disapproval, which was becoming heavier every day. Of course, I already saw myself as being bad so it didn’t matter if this man wanted to marry me or not. I didn’t expect him to marry me. As a bad girl, I had to settle for what I got. It made me sick to have sex with him but he had lots of drugs and there wasn’t much I couldn’t do if I were stoned enough. My parents did nothing to save me and I’m sure they thought I was “getting what I asked for”. They waited for me to get enough and come crawling home. I never once questioned them for doing so. For over three years, my life spiraled downward, as I fulfilled what my mother prophesied for me. I never thought of myself as having been sexually abused. I accepted it all as my fault, as what I deserved because I was bad.
To be continued…. (you can read part 2 here: “How Judgmental People define Other People”
Please share your thoughts with Pam and I about living with judgment, condemnation and disapproval and the effects of that. Remember that you are free to use any name you wish in the comment form. Only the name you use will be seen by the public. Although EFB has a facebook page, your comments here will not be published there or linked to you in anyway. ~ Darlene
Pam Witzemann was born in Santa Fe, NM and is married, has raised two boys and has two grandsons. Pam and her husband have had their own business for over twenty years. Pam is a painter and a writer and hopes to make these pursuits more than a hobby in her later years. Pam authors the blog Boomer Back-Beat; a place where baby boomers find inspiration in the process of aging.
Related Posts ~ Pam writes about “the mind of a child predator” at boomer back-beat ( Pam’s blog is no longer available)