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When Healing Began

Catherine Doss

The healing began long after she told me I was the worst grandchild she had and that Mom and Dad should have never had me.

The vision of her standing there in her old-timey blue cotton smock dress, black work shoes, and compression stockings, shaking her cane at me as we drove away that day, is scorched in my mind. 

I never understood why she picked on me to such a degree. She picked on my sisters, too, but they loved her. I guess what I really don’t understand is why they loved her.

She was not afraid to make a disparaging comment about any and every part of me, especially when I was an adolescent…my waist, my butt, the nubs of my young breasts. 

“Kitty (my nickname back then), you don’t have much up top. It’s all on the bottom.”

According to her, I was no good in the kitchen, no good at sewing, no good at gardening, no good at any number of household skills that were deemed to be crucial for a young lady of the 1960s.

“Kitty, I’m really disappointed in you. Why do you make your mother so upset?”

The healing began many years into my adult life.

All those years of debilitating depression. Anxiety. Compulsive eating. Therapist after therapist. Doctor after doctor.

I felt as though the world was an army marching along out of step, except for me.  I was the only one in the army who was marching in step. I was the only one who was right. My negative thoughts about myself were truths: I was no good. I was a nuisance. I was lazy. The voices in my head told me I was an imposter who had the world fooled. While the outside world thought I was a capable human being, the voices in my head convinced me otherwise.  After all, Grandmother spent 30 years telling me I wasn’t capable.

“Have you won any awards? When I was your age, I had already won ribbons for my baking and flower arranging.”

Her words and insinuations were caustic.

The healing began long after she was dead and buried.

The healing finally began when I started to forgive. 

I forgave the unkind words, the criticism. I forgave her bigotry, her manipulation of others. I forgave her intense desire to belittle people and her remarkable success at controlling people.

I forgave her for not being the grandmother I thought she should have been.

It didn’t mean any of those things were okay.  They were not okay. It just meant I forgave her.

Today, I know I am not an imposter. I am Me, and it is good.

Catherine Doss

Communications Manager, VTCSOM