I am not my mother.
It is such a simple sentence, yet it is an extremely difficult concept for me to embrace.
I try to avoid thinking about it as much as possible. But when I was at a group-therapy workshop this past Sunday, I participated in a body image project that brought up a lot of those feelings. It took everything in me not to just color over my body outline and stab the paper. I’ve always had difficulty connecting to my body. I’ve always had difficulty loving my body because I feel like it’s her body.
I’ve mentioned before how many people tell me I look so much like my mother. That makes it so much harder to separate myself from her. Aside from her being a couple of inches shorter, she has the same skin color, eye color, and stature as me. To make matters worse, my mother consistently went out of her way to make herself look even more like me. I believe she did it because she knew it bothered me. It was just another way to manipulate me.
If I dyed my hair, she dyed her hair the same color. If I got a haircut, she got a haircut, too. She’d buy the same underwear as me. She would even take my clothes without my permission and wear them. I remember getting picked up from work one day last year and she was in the back of the car, wearing a familiar outfit. It was the outfit I got for Christmas from one of my best work friends. I didn’t even get to wear it. When I asked her why she took it, she said it looked better on her anyway. It didn’t even fit her.
I avoid looking in the mirror because I constantly see her, both in body and in face. I never see myself. If I look like her, that must mean that I am like her in every way. It is nauseating to me. I hate my body because it’s her body. I hate my face because it’s her face. I don’t know if I can get past that. I’ve never been able to feel like anything is my own, and that includes my body.
During my therapy session today, my therapist asked me about the body image project. I told her about my difficulty in seeing myself as separate from my mother, and how that makes it difficult for me not to hate my body because of how much I hate her. My therapist tried to get me to realize that I was not my mother, especially on a psychological level. Our personalities are very different. I am also more intelligent than my mother – and that was something that she hated about me and constantly made me feel bad about.
Despite the differences, I still have a hard time acknowledging that I am not my mother. It’s hard when you grow up in a society that judges you on your looks before anything else. Part of me wants to make a drastic change, because now she won’t be able to copy me. Maybe I’ll dye my hair dark. Maybe I’ll get a new pair of glasses. I need something to help me feel different, because knowing it isn’t enough for me.