What was said; What I heard

I read something that had a pretty big impact on me at a pretty important time which has led to the inspiration for this post. I have not spoken to my mother in a week. This would not generally be note worthy but this time it is. The last time we spoke ended badly and the space I thought I needed to take care for myself expanded from a half hour to multiple days to now a week.

During this week my Dad showed up in his normal role in our family: peace maker/mother fixer. My Dad picks up the messes of others so everything can stay neat and tidy and we can all pretend there is no mess. Dad also takes care of Mom, Mom comes first. Always.

The space has been painful. I feel like a terrible daughter, I feel like I am the problem, I feel like I am breaking my mother’s heart, I feel guilt, I feel shame, I feel like I will be a terrible mother. I feel self-doubt. I worry that my actions are manipulative, I am constantly second guessing myself. I feel unstable, out of control.

As the space has gotten bigger so has my truth; I feel rejected. I feel used. I feel blamed like a scapegoat. I feel resentment. I feel more stable. I am starting to gain clarity. I am starting to truly understand how much bigger than me this is. I am learning how to care for myself since the focus is not constantly on caring for her. My heart is aching. I feel let down.

Yesterday or the day before, I honestly cannot remember now, I was reading a blog that I have been following for a long time. It is a blog similar to my own; personal, searching, honest. I appreciate the honest part most. I admire and appreciate people who are willing to say out loud that life is hard, families are hard, relationships are hard. I see enough posed photos with perfect smiles, sometimes I need the honesty of how devastating losing a pet can be. This blogger shows up in her truth.

So I was reading this post that true to form was painfully honest and I definitely identified with parts of it. My truth is different from hers but I saw myself, my childhood self, in some of her writing.

I wasn’t sure I had the courage to be so honest but right now seems like the time. The only way for things to be different is to do things differently. That means honesty and stepping out from the shadow of denial. Last week my mother and I broke another vase, metaphorically speaking, and despite all his efforts my father was not able to sweep these pieces under the rug like so many broken pieces before it. So now I am going to stand here in the mess I helped make and accept Alma’s invitation to be seen in my truth.

What was said and What I heard:

Calm down: You are acting crazy. You are crazy.
This isn’t going to work: You can’t do this. You made a mistake. You did this wrong.
Your mother is really upset: Your mother is really upset and it is your fault. You need to apologize to your mother. Please fix this for me. I am scared.
Your brother _____________: I love him more. Your accomplishments, life, words, ideas, problems, are less important than his.
Mother-daughter relationships are hard: This is what it is, get used to it. Stop trying to change things. Stop upsetting the apple cart.
What is most important is that we love each other: Do you still love us? Are we good parents? Please don’t leave us. Family comes before everything, including your emotional well-being.
*Silence*: Fuck you. You are the worst. I will not bend. You will give me what I want. Who do you think you are? You owe me this. You are not stronger than me. Don’t make me angry. How dare you. I do not love you.

What I needed to hear:

This started long before you.
This is not your fault.
I own my part.
Take all the time you need, I will be here.
I am ready to really work on this.
The truth, the real honest truth.

 

There are a lot of ANDs that exist in this space of pain but this time I am going to keep my ANDs to myself. I know what they are and that is what matters. I do not feel compelled to make this mess pretty to make myself or anyone else more comfortable. Not this time.

mom

The Girl and the Sea

Once there was a girl who had been holding on too tightly. This was a girl who had always been afraid of losing; losing what, she never quite knew. Her mind, her heart, her self, her future, her favorite doll.. There was just always this nagging feeling that the world was not safe and so she needed to hold on tightly to make it through.

What this girl did not understand is that not everything can be held so tight. Holding too tightly can  make what looks like love feel like suffication. Holding too tightly can leave you white knuckled and arthritic, a body cannot withstand the constant pressure to hold on so tight.

This went on for a long time and for all her efforts she still experienced devastating losses. She never loosened her grip on the things she cared about or needed to hold on to but it did not keep her safe from losing like she had hoped. Still the girl held on too tightly because she knew no other way.

One day the girl went to the ocean and was invited to step out into the crashing waves. With trepidation she followed the leader and felt overwhelmed by the power. She could not hold on out in the current, she had no control. She grasped at the sand on the ocean floor but it slipped from her fingers.  She reached out for her leader and together they were tossed by the incoming tide. She realized there was nothing else she could do so finally she let go.

For a moment she let go of everything she had been holding too tightly and watched as the ocean washed it away; in it’s place she opened her hand and found an acorn. The symbolism she did not understand at the time.

That day the girl learned that when she let go of the things she was holding too tightly her hands were then open to receive what she was truly meant to hold.

the girl and the sea

Counting Down to Soul Camp

shadow work1

I am about one week out from Soul Camp and I cannot wait. I am not going to lie to you, I am more excited about Soul Camp than I am about finishing internship or graduating. This is what I have been looking forward to most about the end of the semester. I swear it is coming at the perfect time too. I am finally done with college and here Soul Camp is to catch me. Gratitude for that for sure.

So I have mentioned that this time around soul camp is about shadow work. I have been doing shadow work since November so I arrogantly thought Oh this is going to be easy..

Then I got dropped kicked in the face by my truth. While the work I have been doing is important and for some might feel deep, for me it is completely surface level. It is part of my work but it is not my TRUE shadow work. My true shadow work is deeper and darker and I don’t even feel like saying more about it because my truth is I would rather just leave my blinders up and not do the work at all.

I’ll just stay up here and work on my relationship with entitlement ignoring what lies beneath..

I am not at all happy about this revelation I have had but I know that is where my real work is right now and I am going to try my best to show in my truth at Soul Camp. I did that last time and although it was AWFUL in the moment I think it brought a lot of the other women their work and gave them an invitation to be messy and awful as well.

I already know two things I can, and really need to do, in order to commit to doing this work while at soul camp. The very thought of it brings up deep feelings of grief for me.. I’ll keep processing it and see where I land.

I am really am so grateful for the timing of soul camp this time around, it is so right. I will be done with something huge and going into a major life transition so the extra support will be awesome. Plus I will be coming back to absolutely no commitments. I do not start my new job right away so I will have ample downtime to process whatever comes up while at soul camp. THAT is the real gift.

 

I Need Some Time to Take Care of Myself

I said this to my mother today after she said something to me that was an instant trigger. My mother knows how to push my buttons. Of course she does, she created them!

The moment I felt myself losing control I showed up for myself: I need to get off the phone. I am upset and I need some time to take care of myself. I love you, I am not mad at you but I am upset and I need to not be on the phone right now. We can talk later.

It was important to me that I spoke my truth and got off the phone as soon as possible. I did not want to be pulled back in, my mother often tries to pull me back in.

Mom: Well I don’t know how to respond to that.

Me: Yes, I understand this might be confusing for you and I am sorry about that but right now this is what I need. I have to get off the phone, we can talk later.

……Silence……

Me: Mom. I really need to do this for myself right now but it is important to me that I am not hanging up on you so can you please let me know that you are okay so I can go?

I look down at my phone. She had already hung up on me.

Jokes on you kiddo.

I stood there in my fury and rejection and cried. Here I was needing to take care of myself but still putting her first. I was afraid of how my just hanging up the phone would make her feel while the whole time she had already it done it me. I was trying to mother my mother who was not mothering me. The only person I needed to be mothering was myself. And that is just what I did.

A half hour later my dad was calling. This is typical. This is one of our patterns. Mom and I fight, Mom tells Dad, Dad smooths it over. Nothing is resolved, just ignored. Dad is the reset button.

No thank you.

I turned off my phone and spent the rest of the hour taking care of me and mothering my inner child that felt completely rejected and destroyed by her mother.

I do not know how I have the clarity of mind to even write this right now. My mother is tornado, her path of destruction is wide and I am often left in utter shock and confusion in the emotional wake of it all.

I still do feel a bit shell shocked but I this time I showed up for me and that made a difference.

inner child

Where..

alex-diamond

When I was searching for something to color this post with this piece by Alex Diamond stood out to me because it kind of represents how I am feeling in a way I have trouble expressing with words..

A few weeks ago someone I used to know went missing. For weeks there has been this feeling of fog.. Where did he go? and now that where has morphed into a different where, the where is now, Where can I talk about this?

I learned today that it has been confirmed that he has passed. He was missing for weeks before this news finally broke. I know everyone had hoped for a different outcome. My heart is heavy for his people. My heart is also especially heavy for him.

I am processing this here for two reasons: one, because I do not know how to talk to anyone in my life about it and two, because even if I did – I don’t want to.

This person was a friend of an ex. I knew him on a casual level for many years while I was with my ex. It has been close to a decade since I last saw him, it was just a few months before my ex and I called it quits for good.. I still remember that encounter with him.. I was at a new years eve party at his house, our friend was in town from the military and I was stopping by before going downtown with friends for new years. After hugging me he complimented me on my perfume, he knew exactly what I was wearing, he said it had always been a favorite of his. We caught up for a few minutes and then I proceeded to spend time with my friend in the military until I left. A month or so later my ex and I ended it for good and that was the last I saw of this person.

He was on the periphery of my life even when he was in it on a regular basis. We were not close but that does not change the fact that on some level I feel a loss in this. I think I mainly feel a heaviness, a sadness for him – there are so many thoughts and feelings about this I don’t want to share.. I also feel heavy for his people, the ones who loved him fiercely and are left behind. He has a child, that part really hurts my heart.

This is such a difficult thing to process because the truth is my heart is hurting with the news of his passing but how do you explain that to anyone? It is like when you find out someone you knew in high school and interacted with but were not too close with passed in a car accident (which has happened on more than one occasion).. You feel the weight of that loss but where do you go to process those feelings? Will anyone understand?

So here are a few things I would like to get out about this..

He was funny. I remember a million years ago when I very first met him I was sitting on our friend’s back porch with him.. He was a musician, and he was playing something but he kept messing up on this one part and every time he would mess up he would say Damn it Jim! The thing is, his name was not Jim. He did this two or three times and finally I asked him, are you saying Jim? He was so lost in his own musical world I don’t know that he had even acknowledged that someone else was sitting out there smoking a cigarette. He looked up and paused and then laughed as he explained that whenever he gets frustrated with himself that is something he does. I laughed too. I had caught him in this totally honest, quirky, authentic moment.. I am glad I have that memory of him.

I remember his most in the context of him being the boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend. I was a girlfriend in that group as well and spent more time with the other girlfriends than the actual guys my then boyfriend was friends with. His girlfriend was special. There was something kind of mysterious about her, something very real. I admired her very much and even before I knew him too well I remember thinking he must be pretty special too because you would have to be to be with this girl. As I got to know him better I understood on a very small removed level why they worked. I remember feeling sad when I learned that they had not worked out because I had liked them both separately and together.

I do not know any specifics about his departure from this world and I absolutely do not want to. That is so personal, I think that is for his people to hold. It is sacred. Through the information that was being shared when he was missing it did mention suicide risk though which is also part of the heaviness sitting on my heart.

I hope his soul is able to rest and feel peace. I hope his people, especially his child, are able to find comfort. It still does not feel real and I am sure the closer you get to his inner circle the truer that statement becomes.

I am sending each one of you love and light, especially you JW. I don’t think a person ever truly knows the ripple effect their life can have on so many others. You were a sweet soul and I have gratitude that your path crossed mine however briefly.

loss

Letting Go of What Does Not Serve Me

borrowed identity

You know that voice in your head, the “not good enough” voice, the bully?.. Where did that voice come from? Who gifted you the negative messages that you play over and over? Does your truest self actually believe these negative things or are they someone else’s words or actions that you absorbed and have turned into your own personal torture device?

Maybe it is a little bit of both (most things are after all). Our internal bully can be made up of social messaging from society, messages received in close relationships, and things we say to ourselves that have a foundation in one of the first two.

Listening to one of our clients in group yesterday made me think about this. What the client was sharing made me wonder, Where did they first receive that message? As I was processing the day on my way home I was thinking about some of my own messages I have internalized over the years and who they came from. I had some major I show myself love moments on the drive home and have decided it is time to release some of these messages because I no longer believe them and they do not serve me.

I am crazy. That was a gift from a former intimate partner that could not cope with my depression and grief after the death of a loved one. I was in pain, a pain so deep it scared him. I release this message. It is not my truth and it does not serve me.

My body is not good enough. This was also a gift from a former intimate partner. My body belongs to me alone and I know she is worthy of my love. That is my truth. I release this message. It is not my truth and does not serve me.

I am manipulative. There were times when this was other’s truth about me. I recognize times in my life when I was without and did what I needed to make myself feel safe and loved. I am grateful to the pieces of myself that took care of me during that time. I send love and light to those I hurt with my actions when I was trying to take care of myself. I release this message. It is not my truth and does not serve me.

I am not deserving, I am not worthy. I release these messages. They are not my truth and do not serve me.

I am unlovable. This was one of my most painful messages, and one that I have had the longest relationship with. This is not my truth now because I love myself. I am worthy of love and I show all the pieces of myself unconditional love. I receive love from without and within. I RELEASE THIS MESSAGE. IT IS NOT MY TRUTH AND IT DOES NOT SERVE ME.

I know my truth. These messages can no longer hurt me. These words no longer have meaning in my life and no one will ever be able to use them to hurt me again. I am stable and safe, my body belongs to me and I am in love with it just as it is, I have everything I need to take care of myself, I deserve to be here and I am worthy of the goodness of life, I feel love, I give love, I am love.

The Crying Tree Lady

my trees.jpg

I do not remember the name of a single math teacher I had from middle school all the way through college, save one. I will call her Mrs. W.

Mrs. W was my liberal arts math teacher junior year of high school. I would not remember her either, I certainly remember very little from the actual class, except for one day in particular. She was sitting on a stool at the front of the room writing math problems onto a transparency which was then projected onto a screen (I am sure this kind of technology is considered prehistoric now). Mid way through a problem that I was paying no attention to (I was happily doodling in my notebook) she did something that grabbed everyone’s attention. She started crying.

We were all stunned. It came from no where. She was doing a math problem and then she just started to cry. After a moment she put down the marker and through her arms in the air and started wailing about this beautiful oak tree that had lived outside of her bedroom window her entire life and how that morning the tree men had come to cut it down because it was infected and dying. She was devastated and so was I. Everyone else was either quiet, completely at a loss, or snickering. No one seemed to understand her pain but I did.

I grew up on a dirt road with few neighbors surrounded by open fields of wild flowers and massive laurel and live oak trees. I spent everyday of summer and everyday after school outside climbing trees and picking flowers. I was bare foot at all times. I felt the bark of these trees in my hands and under feet and I climbed. I came home at night covered in dirt and tree sap. The knees of my jeans were always green and ripped from grass stains and rubbing too hard against tree trunks. I understood her pain.

I thought of her last week. I hope I haven’t already told this story, I apologize if I have. At any given time I can be writing between 2-8 stories in my head for this blog, sometimes I forget which ones I have actually physically written.

Anyway, I was driving to a grocery in the next neighborhood over from ours. Our grocery is little, it does not always have everything I need. I decided to take the scenic route that goes by our old rental in College Park. As I turned a bend by the lake I saw something that made me lose my breath. One part of the neighborhood runs parallel to the big interstate that cuts through College Park and for some time there had been markings on a few of the old live oaks indicating that they were to be cut down to allow for the road expansion that it currently taking place. I was heart broken when I first realized this and deliberately drove this way everyday so I could see these trees.  I wanted to bear witness to them because one day they would be gone and I wanted to make sure that I remember them and honor them for as long as they were still standing.

A few weeks after Todd and I first saw the markings we ran into our neighbor who used to be an elected official. She knows people who are higher up in local government and according to her the trees in question were not going to be cut down because enough important people made a fuss about it. I was overjoyed at this news! I stopped driving by the trees everyday. I still drove this way a few times a month but not as regularly.

As I turned the bend by the lake I saw nothing but open air where my beloved trees used to stand tall. All that remained were stumps where there beautiful bodies had been. I started to ball. I cried all the way to the grocery and considered turning around and going home rather than going in. I could not pull myself together. I was feeling everything. I was angry, I was shocked, I felt guilty, but most of all a deep deep sorrow.

I thought they were safe. Had I known I would have visited them more often. I tried so hard to remember each one of them, the ways their branches curved and dipped and each individual root system. But I couldn’t. My memory failed me and it further intensified the feeling of my failing them. I was not there to bear witness. What if no one else took any effort to remember them? It will be as though they never existed. These trees, Live Oaks, live for centuries. They have more right to be here than we do. How could we so callously cut them down? And hearing, trees are being planted to replace the ones removed does not make me feel any better. Great, plant those trees but it does not replace a life lost!

I have not been able to drive that way since. I know that many who read this will not understand. Like my classmates you will either sit in silence unsure what to make of the crying tree lady or maybe you will snicker/pass judgement. It is of no consequence to me. I know there are other souls out there who understand this pain, Mrs. W is testament to that.

Part of my sacred truth is that I am connected to all living things, trees, insects, plants, the earth. Some maybe more so than others, like trees. Among the trees is a I have always felt safe. They share their shade and shelter, you are free of judgement and come as you are, they are deeply rooted and have branches that touch the sky which is a balance I think we all strive for in life. My truth is they deserve to be honored.