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

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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

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

Wild Geese

One of my soul friends sent me something that instantly brought tears to me eyes. I feel compelled to share it so others can feel whatever it brings up for them and so I will always know where to find it.

wild geese

The very first line spoken aloud caught like a hook in my throat.

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees.

Let those healing waves crash over you.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air are heading home again.

Home. A tear falls from my eye.

The world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like wild geese..

I see those geese flying in my minds eye. I see the blue sky, I feel the breeze. I read these sacred words and know I am okay. We are all okay.

Thank you for this my kindred soul. It meant more than you know.

Coming Out

power

We just got back from the Women’s Rally downtown. It was incredible. We heard the music and crowd while we were still walking a block away towards the event, when we turned the corner and I saw the scene laid out before me I began to cry. It was like coming home.

It was so beautiful. There were families, and every different kind of person you could possibly imagine. I saw fellow social workers, and some of my professors, and even our PCP walked by us with cat ears on! It was so great to see so many people I personally know but also just the turn out in general. The messages people were carrying on the signs they made were love, pure love. Some were also sad, sad because of the truth they hold. I cried behind my sun glasses for the first ten minutes while we were there, I was so overcome by the energy of it all and what it meant to me personally as someone who has very real reasons to be afraid right now. I am sure I was not the only person who felt so moved.

We walked around and took it all in and then planted ourselves so we could listen to the speakers. The first speaker spoke of the importance of coming out and how the rest of the world could learn a thing or two from our LGTBQ+ brothers and sisters about coming out. She talked about the importance of coming out everyday; in the grocery when we see someone treated poorly, at our jobs when we are afraid to speak out against something we know isn’t right, in our families, in our relationships, in public, everywhere. We have to come out as the people we actually are and have the courage to be seen. She talked about coming out as feminists, and as allies, and in all these other ways. We have to be willing to come out and been seen as the people we actually are and then live in that power of wholeness and authenticity everyday. It is a big ask, I know this because as much as I was inspired by her words I was also afraid.

I was afraid for the same reason we are all afraid; how will this change my life? will being my true self negatively impact my life/work/relationships? what if _____ isn’t/aren’t okay with it?
An extra fear for me that has always kept me small is fear of my safety. It is a fear I know I share with many. Coming out means allowing those who hate us without even knowing us to see us. In the closet we are safe, those who claim to hate us can’t see us. Coming out means taking an enormous risk. For some of us the stakes are higher than just will this person stop being my friend? or will this family member disown me?
For some of us it is will someone try to hurt me?

I was inspired though in spite of my fear. And just being in the presence of all these amazing, open minded, loving people made my light feel all the way turned up.

I agree that we need to come out, it is the only way to accomplish real progress. We have to step out of our fear and into our greatness.

When I think about my own coming out I know I am still operating from a place of fear, but I am working on it, and maybe one day I will find that courage to turn my light all the way up.

Fight, Flight, Total Freak Out

All the bad energy I have been talking about for weeks came to a head this afternoon as I was driving home from internship and it was terrifying.

There is a point on my drive home from internship where the road I am on merges with oncoming traffic. I am usually timid as I make this merge because typically there is a lot of oncoming traffic and the ptsd I have related to a previous car accident keeps me cautious when I drive. So I got to my merge today and there was a lot of oncoming traffic, it was a Friday a 4:45pm so this was not surprising.

I was slowly inching down the merge lane waiting for my opportunity to get in when the car behind me started blaring on their horn. This alone was really startling for me, I wasn’t sure what they were honking for. I looked in my rear view to see the lady behind me screaming (I am not exaggerating here, she was screaming) and waving her hands around in a motion that I interpreted as her wanting me to go. Go where? There was a solid line of at least 4 or 5 cars, there was no where to go until this clearedShe continued with his behavior and laying on her horn until finally there was break in traffic and I was able to finish merging. While I was waiting for traffic to clear I waved back at her trying to signal that Yes I hear you, I will go when I can. It was no use, she was unrelenting.

I was rattled. Her behavior was over the top. My nervous system kicked into over drive.

Once I was able to merge she let off her horn and I thought it was all over. I was wrong. She proceeded to tailgate me down the road, practically sitting on my bumper. All I could think was please don’t cause an accident. Please don’t hit my husband’s car.

My turn for home is not far from that merge area so soon enough I was in my turn lane, again thinking I would be done with this lady and the whole situation. Wrong again. She was turning left too. Then I thought Oh crap. She is one of my neighbors.

When I turned left there was a car coming but I had time to turn, the lady behind me turned left in front of the car cutting it off. I drove down a few blocks and she continued to tailgate me, staying dangerously close to the bumper of my car. I came to a four way stop sign, I needed to go straight but something told me not to go straight home. I turned right. Almost without stopping she turned right as well. I then turned left, she stayed with me. At this point I called my husband. I was not far from home and I did not know what to do. Should I go home? Should I call the police? Was she following me or was she a neighbor?

While explaining to my husband what was happening I decided to pull over to the side of the road to see if she would pass me. She didn’t. She pulled up behind my car. I immediately started driving again. That was all the confirmation I needed. I was around the corner from our home, I asked my husband to come outside, that I thought we would need to call the police but that I wanted to get her plate. I made my left turn at the last stop sign before home and instead of following me she hit the gas and went straight.

I was only partially relieved.

I got home, parked, and immediately went inside. I was shaking so hard my husband had to hold me. I laid on his chest and mimicked his deep breathing until I was breathing normally again. I did not stop shaking for 20 minutes.

After processing it with my husband what we think happened is she saw me on my phone and after the maneuver I did to confirm she was following me she assumed I was on the phone with the police. She made sure to drive off fast and in a direction where it would be very difficult for me to get her license plate information.

As my husband was walking back through the whole situation with from beginning to end I found myself trying to make sense of everything. Why did she do that? I just do not understand. My husband tried to explain that she probably had a bad day and was taking it out on me through her road rage. Ok, but I still do not understand what about me and the way I was driving set her off. There was literally no where for me to go. If I had gone forward like she wanted me to I would have caused a massive accident.What did she want? What was going on inside her head?

I have never been involved in road rage before. I am a very cautious driver, I always let people in, I do not speed.. I just do not see myself as an obvious target for someone’s aggression in this way, especially in this specific situation. I mean if it was what my husband said and she was projecting her anger on me that is scary. This woman allowed herself to get so wrapped up in it that she was following someone home. What did she think she was going to do once I stopped? Was she going to confront me? Was she planning to get out of her car? I mean to what end was she planning to take this situation? And again why?

This all just goes back to the really bad energy stewing our there right now. It does not matter how zen I try to be or how committed to keeping balance and perspective I am.. I cannot control the rest of the world.

Let this scary situation be a voice in the back of all of our heads the next time we feel ourselves feeding into negativity.. To what end? Why? What am I hoping to accomplish with this? 

We are all in this (surviving life) together folks. Lets not make it harder on ourselves or each other. Be kind. Show love. Forgive. Take a breath. Be patient.

It all may sound cliche and recycled but this woman forgot all of it today. We are capable of getting caught up in our own negativity or the negative energy swirling around out in the world. We all have the potential to forget. So be mindful, be kind, and be grateful whenever you can.

Although this lady sent me into a full on ptsd episode I still trying to find compassion. I know it is hard, I am sorry you are struggling with whatever it is you are struggling with, I am sending you light.

Preparing for Soul Camp

In a few short weeks I will be leaving for a weekend retreat at the beach and as the time grows nearer I am feeling all kinds of emotions bubble to the surface.

Soul Camp is a weekend therapeutic retreat led by my therapist and a co-facilitator where I will be involved in group therapy surrounding topics related to trauma, self-love, healing, family, women issues, and whatever else happens to pop up for us while we are there.

Yesterday I attended a meeting related to Soul Camp where I met all the other women who will be attending. We had a chance to talk and work out some of the jitters because we are essentially all being thrusted into each other’s work and that is kind of a big deal. I knew most of the women present as we have been attending workshops together over the course of the last year, that was reassuring. I also met someone new and this someone new will be my roommate while at Soul Camp. I am really excited about that.

The roommate situation made me a bit nervous because we will all be bringing different emotional baggage to soul camp as well as different energies around what our stuff is. I was concerned about being impacted by someone else’s energy because when in close quarters for extended periods of time it can get harder to keep up an emotional boundary. I don’t want to absorb someone else’s stuff and get distracted from what I am bringing that I need to work on.

When I first encountered this person yesterday at the meeting I did not feel overwhelmed by her energy, which was a good sign. She felt open and vulnerable which is what I try to bring as well, I think it will be a good match.

I will spend the next few weeks collecting items around my home that I want to bring with me, maybe a photo from childhood, or some other little thing that feels connected to the work I am doing. This space that is being created for us at Soul Camp feels like it might amplify the work we are already doing so I am trying to emotionally and mentally prepare myself for that.

I am looking forward to it though. I am trying to lean back a bit and not control it, I am trying not to think about it to much or create expectations for what it might be.I am going to pack a bag, leave on a Friday, and let it be whatever it is meant to be.

soul-camp