Changing the Legacy

I loved my mom to pieces.

She was seriously my best friend and we could talk on the phone for HOURS on end.  In fact, believe it or not, we once talked on the phone for EIGHT HOURS without realizing it.  Yes, the length of an average person's workday.  Granted, it was from like 6 in the evening until like 2 in the morning.  But still... who does that??

So I love when people tell me that I remind them of her... either in looks or personality or even the sound of my voice.  I can only hope that I will be as generous, kind and loving as she was.  And if I'm lucky, I might carry on her "there's no way that's your age!" trait.

But all of that said, there is one pretty major thing that I don't want to carry on from my mother...

Her legacy.

Even though my mom was all of those things I just mentioned... kind, generous, loving and snarky in the best way.  She also lived her life in fear and worry.  She stayed in an unhealthy relationship for most of her life and carried the burden of debt all the way to her deathbed.

These are things that I do NOT want to inherit from her.  

So, I am changing the legacy.  For both myself and my mom.

I can often feel my mom creeping up inside of me.  When I can't get a hold of a loved one after a couple tries on the phone.  Or when I have a big event or project coming up.  The champion worrier in me (thanks, mom) rears its ugly head and tries to make me anxious, nervous, scared and paralyzed.

But lucky for me, I've got its number.

I know the drill.  I know the routine.  And I have vowed NOT to give it what it wants.  It already got a good chunk of my mom's life, but it's not getting mine.

The legacy I will carry on is one of courage, confidence and joy.  Life is too short to live any other way. 

My mom also stayed in a relationship that was unhealthy for over 30 years.  I am not trying to diss my dad here.  I loved my dad very much, despite our often challenging relationship.  But everyone knew it was an unhealthy relationship, even him.

And like most women who grow up in emotionally abusive homes, I went right on and found myself an abusive relationship as an adult.  I didn't set out to find it... quite the contrary.  But I attracted it none the less.

Some say it's because you still have some issues to "work out" or it's because sub-consciously it's all you've ever known.  But no matter what actually causes the repeat pattern to happen, the buck stops with me.

Both my mom and my dad came from homes with a lot of conflict as a child, so it's not really surprising that they ended up recreating it together when they became adults.  Sad.  But not surprising.

My abusive ex grew up in the same kind of environment too.  It's a sad phenomenon.

But once I finally realized what was happening and was able to separate myself from it, I vowed that I would change this legacy too.  The dysfunctional pattern will stop with me and my children and their children will have a new pattern to follow.  One of love, faith, respect and kindness.

One that I know my mom would be proud of.

And then there's the other part of my mom that lives in me - the shopper.  Now, I'm not gonna lie... this part is pretty fun.

She gets super excited when she finds a bargain and loves to tell everyone all about it.  But... she also has a tendency for "retail therapy" whenever things are going bad or getting tough.

And even though my mom was never a designer label shopper or anything like that, she did have like 30 credit cards to her name.  Literally.  One for every store and every gas station on Earth.  And when she passed away, she left a lot of debt.

I'm not saying this to "shame" her post-mortem.  I'm saying it because that's pretty much the case for most Americans alive today.  And I was well on my way to doing the same thing.

I had a bunch of credit cards (all with balances on them), a car loan, student loans and was set to sign my life away for a big mortgage.  Just like my mom and a lot of other people.

But I am changing this legacy too.

I don't want to carry the burden of debt through my life.  I don't want to be paying for things I don't need a year, three years, or five years after I bought them.  And I don't want to leave debt behind for my loved ones to have to deal with.

Again, the buck stops here.

My legacy will be one of joy, courage, love and freedom.  Fear and bondage are out the door.

And I think my mom is jumping up and down watching, yelling "good riddance!"  

Know this friend, no matter what situation you come from... what circumstances you grew up in... what habits you've learned.... what legacy you inherited...

You can change it.

Slam the door on it.  Turn your back.  Set your sights in a new direction and say ENOUGH.

Change the legacy.