I have some guests coming up for the weekend. My mother and my step-father.
When I talk about being abused as a child, it was by my mother.
And, yes, I do still let her into my home. Why?
- I have a son and he has the right to have a relationship with his grandmother
- I confronted her about the abuse and she apologized
- We have worked on our relationship for over ten years and she accepts what she did to me, she doesn’t deny it, and she allows me to be myself
I know most abusers don’t admit their actions. And in that way I suppose I’m lucky, if you could call it that. At least she accepts what she did.
I am under no illusions that she is “better,” however.
She said she doesn’t remember what she did to me. I believe her because a lot of people when they’re abusive and mentally unwell don’t know quite what they’re doing. That’s no excuse, don’t misunderstand me. I still know what she did to me was very wrong, and I am still working through the wounds.
In a lot of ways I find it ironic that I can have her in my home and enjoy spending time with her.
For a while it was still a bit sick, I still wanted to earn her love. When my son was young I still carried that everlasting hope that she’d become the mother I wanted to have. The mother I deserved. But I know now she will not be that woman.
I went through years and years of hating her for what she did, but I didn’t express it and turned it inwards, hence my depression and anxiety.
I think her behaviour really hit home for me psychologically after I had my son. I have always considered my son a miraculous gift, and I could never imagine treating him the way my mother treated me. The idea is abhorrent to me. I am not an abuser, never have been. Maybe that’s why I can forgive her to a certain extent.
I know for myself that keeping that anger alive ultimately only hurts me, and the people I love. If I’d kept holding onto the anger I would’ve become more and more diseased by various physical and mental problems because I’d be holding that hate inside myself. I have decided I just don’t want to do that.
And over the last two years since I had my breakdown, I’ve been slowly ridding myself, layer by layer, of all that pain and hate. It’s been very hard to let go because I’d learned to use it as fuel to keep going on. But now I use love as fuel, and that’s been an eye-opening transition for me.
So when my mother walks through my door this afternoon, I can honestly greet her with my heart. Not a naively hopeful heart, I know she isn’t the mother I really wanted, but in some ways I feel lucky that she’s my mom. And I think that’s healthy, and okay.
I feel pretty mixed up today.
I’ve had some really good things happen and some discouraging things happen. I suppose somewhere in between them there’s balance.
I received a really nice message from a man on a singles site. I had shown interest in him and he let me know that he’s about to meet someone and doesn’t like to pursue more than one woman at a time. He said my profile was very interesting, but he wanted to see how things go with the other woman first. I thought that was very honest and filled with integrity. And I thanked him for letting me know. He’s renewed my faith in the online dating scene.
I also found out that my ex-husband, the father of my son, wants to spend more time with my son. My son has been with me 100% of the time for about six months. I guess his dad is missing him. So I may have my three evenings a week back, and my son may be seeing more of his dad, which is very good. Especially since my son’s 16. He needs a man’s influence in his life too.
I woke up and realized I have a yeast infection. Often after I take antibiotics I get one. I just feel as if with my woman garden (thank you Jenny Lawson for this term!) it’s been one thing after another. First the UTI, now this. Blah!
I know it’s not really a big deal or even that unexpected, but I’m tired of feeling tired. The UTI kind of knocked me out, and often the yeast infection medication does too.
I’ve been worried about making enough money for a while now, and it’s damned difficult to be productive when all you feel like doing is curling up in a ball and sipping on tea! Something about this feels so November in Canada. It’s a month where everything is going to sleep or dying, we are overwhelmed with grey all around us and it’s getting cold and it’s dark so early we feel like going to bed at 5pm. Not an inspiring month.
And when I went for my healing treatment on Monday apparently the first two chakras are linked to creativity and our financial life. Figures! No wonder my woman garden is unsettled.
But then as I was driving back from the pharmacy feeling sorry for myself I realized that compared to some of the things going on in the world, a yeast infection isn’t much. And the UTI isn’t much either. Even my financial concerns are only temporary.
My heart goes out to the families of the victims in Paris and the countless others physically hurt from the terrorist attack. Now that is something really beyond discouraging, and has made me realize I’m having a pretty regular day.
There’s nothing behind those feelings, but you’re just all about your feelings.
And, yes, we’re feeling animals, but we’re really about our principles.
Because behind our principles is where our decisions come from. They make us who we are.
So don’t get lost in all those feelings. Because those feelings can stop you in your tracks.
They can stop you from listening to your gut, to your heart. They can stop you from acting.
Our feelings say, what if this… what if that… but your principles say, I know… I can… I’m strong enough…
Because we know what we don’t want. What we won’t do. Who we’re not.
We know. Deep within us we know.
Our feelings may say we’re undeserving, unattractive, small, unworthy, conflicted.
But our principles say we can, we are beautiful, we are bigger than we know and able and ready to be.
So when your feelings bubble up past all those amazing principles. When those feelings stop you from acting, look in the mirror and say, who am I?
Because believe me, you know. You know deep in your gut, in your heart who you are, and then act based on those principles.
Don’t let your feelings make you into someone you’re not.
Remember you have everything inside of you you need to succeed.
The rest is only noise.
It’s a mindset.
Not one we choose, exactly. Well, not one I chose.
For me it came from abuse. Emotional and sexual.
It became programming really. How can a four year old know a way out? Especially an emotional one? The physical one was unavailable. I was cornered, trapped, naked–literally.
The disconnect happens in the mind. You think, how can I deserve this? But I must, it’s happening. Maybe I’m a bad girl. I must be because it’s happening.
And so it continues. Round and round. Keeping you awake at night wondering. Maybe I’m too much. Or not enough. Round and round.
The beginning of madness.
And when they look at my body, why must they touch it? It feels wrong. The attention seems like a secret. Don’t tell anyone. Never tell. I’m your friend. If you want to stay my friend you will never tell. I do, and I don’t.
How can I be sexy when I’m four?
Someone, please help me.
And so it goes. Round and round.
And that four year old grows up.
And she’s beautiful and smart and intuitive and thoughtful–and broken inside.
She’s also reckless. Driven. Filled with rage. Anorexic.
The woman from the girl.
But she wants to be loved. Not like when she was young. She wants to be loved well.
Not chastised, used, manipulated, inappropriately touched. No, she wants gentle kindness, but doesn’t know where to find it.
What does it look like? What does it feel like?
Marriages come, and go. They’re broken too.
Where does it come from, this gentleness? Where can I find it?
Then one day it comes. After the breakdown. After the admission of madness, it comes.
It comes from where I never thought to look before, within.
And the sun begins to shine. For the first time.
The pain came from without, but the healing comes from within.
The love comes from within.
And so ends the victim within the girl.
Because with light comes truth, not shame.
What happened to me is not me.
Who I am inside, makes me.
And I choose power. I forgive myself for not being loved well.
And I choose instead to be full from within.
And miraculously the madness evaporates with the warmth of the sun.
No more dark corners. No more harsh words. No more locked doors. No more forced open legs.
The girl within the woman is freed.
So the woman within the girl claims her power.
And that is freedom.
Connection. What is it really?
I believe it is different for everyone. And that everyone needs a different level of connection to feel loved, to feel understood, to feel free to love.
I grew up with a very loving father and an emotionally distant, aggressive mother. I moved between unconditional love and neglect and abuse, a seesaw of emotions daily.
What did this do to me emotionally? I sometimes felt worthy of love and respect and other times completely unlovable and inconvenient. And so my personal relationships have mirrored this strange imbalance. There was a conflict going on within myself. A strange war between the side of me that felt worthy and the side that absolutely didn’t.
The war caused me to be capable of deeply loving kind, innocent people and creatures. And made me reckless at times, living filled with rage.
I know that anger fueled me for a lot of my young life. The fact that it was my mother who didn’t really want to love me made learning that I was worthwhile that much harder. Mothers are supposed to love their children, aren’t they? I grew up knowing that was not true.
It was not a given. I did not have my mother’s love. And because of that I did not have that mother-daughter connection.
It has affected my life in many different ways.
I was very emotional, passionate and loving. I was reckless and angry. I was driven to achieve at school, and did, being highly competitive. I used my body physically to keep my anger at bay. I was extremely physical and challenged myself to keep up with all the neighbourhood boys, no matter what their ages were.
I started keeping a journal and writing poetry to express emotions that no one knew about or would listen to. I fell in love with my cats, and looked after them and loved them with my heart. I loved babies and children, babysitting regularly. I worked from a really young age to keep busy and because it was expected of me. I had good friends that I confided in, and was sometimes betrayed by. And I had boyfriends who treated me well and others who really didn’t.
And as I got older I realized that the connection I needed and wanted in my relationships was of a certain quality, of a certain depth. And that I was capable of giving it, but not all people were able to give it in return. That became a difficult issue for me because the side of me that felt unworthy of love settled.
I didn’t know that the settling would bring people into my life that were not good for me. As they say, hindsight is 20/20.
A pivotal moment in my life was when I found out one of my old boyfriends had killed himself. He had a terrible childhood with his father, who tried to kill him many times. My old boyfriend was already taking drugs regularly at 17 and by 19 was an addict. He took uppers, muscle relaxants, caffeine pills, smoked hash, and God knows what else. By the time we split up, at 19, he was already incapable of functioning in society. And at 33 he killed himself.
He was a man who I totally connected with. He was sweet and gentle, and loved me openly. We were fearlessly in love with each other and connected so deeply that I think the power of our connection kind of blew us away. And we were young and didn’t know how unusual and wonderful our connection was until we broke up and were apart.
I think we both looked for that connection in other people after that, and though I can’t speak for him, I never found it again. Not until recently.
And it is through my connection to my old boyfriend that I can feel how profoundly connection affects us. He turned to drugs to cope with his childhood, with the lack of love and the violence he lived through at the hands of his father, but was still able to connect with me. But once our connection was gone after we’d broken up, how did his life go?
I think he had trouble finding the level of connection again, or maybe had trouble giving it. Likely the drugs interfered with his relationships greatly. I broke up with him because he was unable to work or support himself. He likely couldn’t maintain good relationships with others either because he was only marginally functional because of his drug use.
It obviously didn’t make his life worthwhile to him. I was heartbroken when I found out he’d killed himself. He was such a gentle soul.
After I found out he was gone, I wondered if our connection had been real. If it had ever really existed, and I think I kind of gave up. It was not long after that I was in a very bad relationship with my ex-husband and had a breakdown because I just couldn’t hold it all together anymore.
My breakdown taught me that I was living a life that wasn’t mine. That I was in a marriage that had to end. That I was working at a job that was soulless for me.
And that I’d been battling depression for most of my life, unknowingly. I’d been attacking myself from within with all that rage and feelings of being unworthy.
And as I went through counselling and took my medication I started to come more and more back to myself. And the connection that I had at one point had with myself and my old boyfriend came back to me. And my whole life changed after that.
And it has continued to change. I now know that the connection I had with my old boyfriend was real. I have found it with another and within myself. And since then my life is becoming what I want and need it to be.
I no longer feel incapable or helpless or unlovable.
It has been a long road, and I have learned through other people who I’ve loved how important living our own lives is. I now know and will never forget that the love I need and want exists and is there for me. I can give it and I can receive it.
I am far stronger and more courageous than I once believed.
I am so sorry that my old boyfriend couldn’t keep fighting. I am so sorry that he felt he couldn’t go on. I am sure that his need for drugs clouded his perceptions and made his life harder, not easier.
I will focus on my connection to others and myself, and remember that distance creates hopelessness, and none of us are every truly without hope.
I now realize all that happened to me before has helped me get here.
Like the ripples in the water caused by a single stone, the stone I threw got me here.
To have enough courage to love with all my heart was no small feat. And that was the stone.
I call it love.
It was not an easy path for me.
I used to believe I attracted the toxic relationships into my life.
But I now know it was that I believed I deserved them that brought them to me, which I believe no longer.
Now I face my world with love. And the world faces me with love as well.
And I’m in love.
I wasn’t sure I’d ever be in love again. I felt broken inside.
But I feel broken no longer.
Instead I waded into the pool, the pool of love.
And my love is there with me.
And we frolic and touch, listen and speak. Love and sigh with contentment.
We talk of building our lives together, and being with each other.
And all my love dreams have come true.
I feel as if I’m in love for the very first time, and it’s more than I imagined.
I am renewed. He has my heart completely, and I have his.
And to this love I say I love you more every day.
You are my all and everything. Come swim with me, for all time.