Good Enough To Eat

One Sunday lunchtime, as an always ravenous pre-teen, I tucked into my mother’s delicious roast. But my enthusiasm apparently caused a minor slip in my table manners, enraging Mum’s new husband.

“If you’re going to eat like a pig, then you can go and eat in the toilet,” he shouted, waving me away with an impatient sweep of his hand.  Raised to respect adults, I did as I was told.

“You’ll never amount to anything with manners like that,” his parting shot followed me as I sat down on the toilet seat of the tiny downstairs cloakroom and closed the door.

Tears of humiliation coursed down my cheeks, splashing onto my lunch plate perched on my knees.  But my tears also burned with rage.  Something snapped inside me that day, but it took me years to understand what it was.

Forcing down the shame of that moment, I nurtured a quiet motivation to succeed. By the time I was twenty-one, I had left my home in England for a new life in California, where I landed my dream job as a trainee paralegal for a law firm in downtown Los Angeles. 

But life had other plans: My dream job, as it turned out, was as mother to my three, now adult children.  Fulfilled and happy as family CEO, it wasn’t until years later when I needed to look for paid employment outside the home, that my confidence nose-dived.

I remembered how thrilled I had been in my younger working life when my electric typewriter – with correcting ribbon no less! – was replaced with a state of the art word processor.  And to think I had once typed great reams of dictated legal notes from shorthand. But as I read the employment ads asking for knowledge of computer office skills, I realised how out of touch I had become, my one-time skills now prehistoric.   

We took the plunge and got our first family computer, but sharing it with three, school-age children with homework needs, and a husband who fast grew obsessed with war games, wasn’t easy. 

When I did get a look in,  I grew frustrated at my limited, self-taught knowledge.  It didn’t help when one of the children offered to ‘help’ by whisking the cursor out of my hand, tapping a few keys and leaving me staring dumbfounded at the screen wondering what on earth they had just done. 

And always, those dreaded words ringing in my ears:  “See Mom, it’s easy!”

With great trepidation and pushing down fears that I would never again qualify for a good job, I registered at the local community college for a Desktop Publishing and Word 2003 computer course. With huge relief, I soon realised I wasn’t the only desperate mother needing a healthy dose of ‘You can do it’.

But when the tutor announced that the end of course exam would be a Power Point presentation in front of the entire class, I froze. No way, I thought. I didn’t even know what Power Point was, never mind use it…and in front of the class?  No way.

But the following spring, I not only presented how to make a Table of Contents in Word using Power Point, I got an ‘A’ for my trouble. Not long after, I found a good job at a dental practice.

After a divorce and moving back to England, I happily remarried; but if I had struggled with a low self-esteem before, it was about to tumble: A couple of years apart, I lost not one, but two jobs, both due to office closure.

I don’t know what sounds worse: being ‘made redundant’ as we say in the UK, or the American expression, ‘laid off’. Either way, it’s hard not to take it personally. Being told you are essentially no longer wanted, no matter the reason, is never a good experience. 

The struggle back was hard.  By then in my late forties, I went through a dark time of feeling utterly useless. But eventually, it changed my life for the better:  Out of that struggle came the hard shove I needed to pursue my life-long writing dream.

But writing isn’t for the faint hearted, I’ve learnt.  Moments of crippling self-doubt taunt me still.  Am I good enough to be the writer I’ve longed to be? But I do it anyway, because it’s not just what I do, but what I am. 

I Am A Writer.

And then I realised what it was that snapped in me that day, forced by somebody to eat my lunch sitting on a toilet:  I am good enough, because I am better than him.

© Sherri Matthews 2017

 

Sherri.JPGSherri Matthews Bio

Sherri has been writing full time since 2012.  Currently working on her memoir, Stranger in a White Dress, she has been published in magazines, websites and three anthologies.  Sherri raised her children in California, and today lives in England with her husband, Aspie youngest and their pet menagerie fondly called ‘Animal Farm’.

 

 

You can connect with Sherri here:

Blogwww.sherrimatthewsblog.com (A View From My Summerhouse)

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/aviewfrommysummerhouse

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/WriterSherri

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sherri-matthews/60/798/aa3

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/103859680232786469097/posts

Memoir Book Blurbhttp://sherrimatthewsblog.com/memoir-book-blurb/ )

 

 

30 thoughts on “Good Enough To Eat

  1. It seems to me, all our ‘am I good enough?’ doubts are coming from our childhood, combined with the stories we endured in our further life.
    I spoke about it with my husband yesterday, who is gathering university degrees like it is no effort at all. He said: ‘I consider myself as capable of doing everything, unless proven otherwise after I tried it’. It is completely the other way round and for sure less exhausting and more successfull.
    Is it only our experience we had in our youth, or is it also about our way of coping with things that occur in life?
    Thanks to Sherri for sharing this wonderful story ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    • Marije, it’s so true. All those stories come from our childhood. Unless we see them for what they are, they continue impacting our lives for a long time. Have you noticed that some patterns are identical? They may involve different people, but they play out in a similar way until we have the capacity to ‘put them to rest.’ To me, it’s all about healing the inner child. Heal the root and the branches will take care of themselves. Thank you for reading Sherri’s story and for all your support.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Yes, it is a very similar pattern. Some of us keep on repeating those patterns over and over again, so they keep on influencing the rest of our lives. It is very sad. Once you realise those patterns and what they are doing to you and your life, you might be able to release yourself from them, to allow yourself to live your own life.
        Sometimes difficulties (for example, keep on choosing the same kind of man who is ‘not good enough for you’ because you were raised in a way to accept and to bear other peoples misbehaviour and abuse because we feel this is the best we can get) in todays life are deeply rooted in our childhood. I see it even in the lives of some friends. And not always I am the one to tell them what to do, because they are not ready to see this. Sometimes I try to keep silent, but I remain in the background to catch them when they fall… I keep on looking forward to the other stories. This is a very big issue… Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to share. xx

        Liked by 2 people

      • It’s so easy to see these patterns in others, and can be exasperating when people are so identified with them that can’t see the bigger picture.
        In terms of dealing with patterns, here’s a beauty of working with an inner child: when we heal, people around us start behaving differently (this is a general conversation, not in relation to the post). I can talk a lot on this topic 🙂 Your friends are blessed to have you in their lives.xx

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you very much for reading and commenting Marije. From an early age I remember thinking if someone told me ‘no’, I wanted to say ‘why not?’ So much more took place in my childhood than this particular incident, yet it was this one that burst into my mind for this essay, more for remembering the overpowering rage coupled with my helplessness…yet I resolved not to let it hold me back and to live a better life. And so we press on 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Interesting how often these childhood messages that plague us come from men. Men also don’t have to worry about the discontinuity that comes from having children. I love and agree with you that the grates job we can ever have is that if CEO of the family! But we miss out on evolving technical skills. And I tell that first household computer and like you, I was the last one to get to use it! But you overcame your doubts and fears and that makes you more than good enough! Love how you tired the intro to the conclusion, Sherri. This is a great piece of writing.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you as always so much Charli for your great insight and feedback and for continuing the conversation, really appreciate you reading and commenting. I remember thinking ‘the buck stops here’ from quite a young age, of consciously making the decision to live my life differently. That is why at such opportunities as this thanks to Gulara, I want more than anything to convey a message not of victimhood, but of survivorship and of overcoming. As for the household computer…say no more, right? And the arguments…yikes! Seems so archaic now doesn’t it when we have so many devices at hand. Ahh…them were the days! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Moving and powerful piece, Sherri. I expect you were competition for your step-father, and he found a very effective way to take advantage of your youth and (I dare say) your indoctrination as a female to displace you from your natural position of power as a loved daughter. (Not taht we recognize this power when we are young.) Those early put-downs do stay with us. And that is exactly what they are–put downs, potent messages that we should stay in our place, be invisible. And then we “grow up” but we remain dependent subconsciously on the approval of others. I am glad you have used this post as an exercise in looking back and just how strong and motivated and self-directive you have been at many stages in your life. How you have realized–actualized–the self you have become. It was a message I took to heart when I read it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jeanne, thank you so much for reading and sharing your insightful thoughts. I was most struck by this:’…the natural position of power as a loved daughter.’ Yet, you are right, we don’t see that when we are young; in fact, I look back and feel a huge sense of helplessness in the face of his power over me. I didn’t realise for many years just how bad my self-esteem was, yet at the same time, I was aware of wanting to overcome it and take the steps necessary to do so. A combination of childhood resilience and learning not to take no for an answer – both good and bad! I’m honoured you took the message to heart Jeanne. We both understand how vulnerable we become when we share our hearts through memoir. But how wonderful through sharing and encouraging and writing our stories the healing continues. Likewise, I take your words to heart and thank you greatly for them…

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Sherri. It is really powerful. I had to push back threatening tears there. I don’t even know why. I know we all relate for we all have our own demons and we’re all doing what we can to survive them. All the stories are moving but I’m really touched by yours.
    Once again, Gulara, thank you! You’re doing something truly amazing here.
    Much love and hugs. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you so much Anne, I am greatly humbled and touched by your comment, which has me tearing up! I am most grateful and honoured for the opportunity to guest post for Gulara’s inspirational series. I find it helps to reflect not only on the ‘where’ of today, but on the why and the how we got here. It’s empowering when we remember those demons we have managed to slay, even as we battle on through this thing called life 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’d say you’re more than good enough my friend. What a great article this was. That old self-esteem thing does have a way at following us around through life and revisiting at some of our darker moments. But you my friend are a beautiful soul and a beautiful storyteller on your way to greatness! 🙂 ❤ xxxx

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What I love about this story, which by the way: very brave to be so vulnerable and open publicly dear Sherri, is the message: it is never ever to late to start caring about yourself again. To start listening to that inner voice and love yourself.
    I love this ‘good enough’- series a lot Gulara. Hope all is well with you and your Dreampack. Big hug, XxX

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Dear Gulara, I just wanted to say again, thank you so much for featuring my guest post as part of your moving and heartfelt ‘Not Good Enough’ series. I am truly honoured to have been able to take part and so moved by all the kind and encouraging comments. I will pop back as I can to read others; you’ve opened the door to some powerful testimonials which I know will inspire others to find within themsleves that they are indeed Good Enough 🙂 Big hugs… ❤ xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for your post Sherri and thanks to Gulara for sharing it. I enjoyed the comments also and can only agree that those events that happened in our childhood can either make us or break us. Yet, if we heal those hurts we can break the pattern and ensure we don’t pass on our baggage onto others …

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Nice to catch up with you both here. I’ve been missing both of you. Seems the problem is at my end. Now why doesn’t that surprise me! 🙂
    What a story, Sherri. And, yes, you are definitely better than he! Keep getting those thoughts down and words out.

    Liked by 1 person

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