Getting to the Other Side

I have been struggling with the knowledge that my father lied to my mother about stopping by to see me and little bubby the other day.

He and I have had a limited relationship outside of my mother and now that my mother and I are severely on the outs I am starting to see behind the curtain of their relationship a bit to see how dysfucntional it is.

Why does he feel he has to lie about being with me? Is it because he is afraid of getting in trouble, like a child? Is it because he is trying to save her feelings? Both? How am I supposed to feel about this? Apparently his love for me, his daughter, is not greater than his fear of my mother. At least that is the story I am telling myself because my family refuses to communicate openly leaving room for painful (hopefully untrue) assumptions to be made.

I love my father. This hurts. I worry that I will lose him because I know my truth, I am not willing to participate in this. Either love me in the open or admit the fact that you don’t love me that much at all.

My husband and I watched a show once where a kid got himself in too deep when lying and his sister’s advice to him was, keep lying until you get to the other side.

I feel like this is what my family has been doing my entire life only our lies are dressed up as denial, avoidance, and minimization.

Part of my untangling is an unwillingness to take part in the lying. I will tell the truth. I am going to keep telling the truth until I get to the other side, until I am healed, until I am seen – even if it is not by my family.

I do not know what the other side of this pain looks like, I don’t know who will be there, or how it will feel. I do know that is where I belong though.

My Dad is trying to peace-keep right now, he is trying to smooth over, this is his role in our family –  he sacrifices self for “the good of the whole”. It is not for the good of whole though, and it is absolutely manipulation. Well-meaning, Yes, but manipulation none the less. I will not participate.

I love you daddy. This is breaking my heart. I won’t stay small for you though, please don’t ask me to do this – I don’t want to leave you, but I will in order to get to the place I am meant to be. I will put you down to pick myself up if I have to.

unraveling

 

With Tears Running Down My Street

People run for all kinds of reasons, some people don’t need a reason – I do. I have never enjoyed running but twice in my life I felt compelled by every fiber of my body to do it anyway.

The first time was over a decade ago. I was in my early twenties and I had recently been destroyed by the ending of a toxic relationship. Then I was running away. I was running from myself, from everything that had happened. I was obsessed, I wanted revenge. I was running to punish myself. Each footfall was filled with rage. My run was fueled by anger and frenzy.

Now I am running again. This running is different. This time I am not running away from my pain, I am running toward it. I am running to connect, not disconnect like last time. I am running to help me get back into my body, to hear her stories, to feel her painful truths. I am running to bring myself home and be whole. I am running into my future, the one I am creating with my own two hands and my heart. This run is fueled right now by sadness and grief, there is also love and honesty here. I am holding myself in this run.

My playlist is short:

Running:
Praying – Kesha
Rescue – Lauren Daigle
Control – Natalie Taylor
Hero –  Regina Spektor

Cool Down:
Amen – Natalie Taylor

 

The titles of these songs say everything about the kind of run I am having now. My pain is with me the entire time, just like last time, only this time I am holding it, not trying to escape it.

As a result I cry when I run.

Yep, out in the open for all the neighbors to see. Sometimes it is a trickle and sometimes it is a snot filled waterfall. I do not care one ounce about what anyone thinks. I am done hiding. No more crying in closets. I exist out in the open now, all of me, even the parts that are hurting. Those parts need the sunshine and birdsong more than my pretty parts who get to witness the glory of life every single day. I will no longer banish any of my parts to darkness, we all get to live in light together now.

So I cry when I run, and I feel connection, and love, and completely alive.

with tears running

Finding My Way Home

After my devastating tumble with the truth about my mother I spent the rest of the day and that evening in my pain. I cried, processed with my husband, and we cuddled. That night I had another dream about water. Water is my symbol for motherhood/my mother which is why it keeps coming up in my dreams.

In the dream I am with little bubby and my parents in a car. My father is driving and little bubby is not strapped in, he is in my lap, we are in the backseat. Suddenly my Dad lets go of the wheel, just totally abandons ship and the car starts to veer off the road towards a swampy lake. I yell at my Mom to hit the brakes, she can’t/won’t stop it. As the car enters the dark water I jump out with little bubby in my arms and wade back to shore. In the dream my phone goes down with the car and is consumed by the darkness, I cannot call for help. I find a landline at a nearby business but I still cannot call my husband. I try over and over but the call will not connect. No one is coming to save us and I am stuck with little bubby in my parent’s swamp. My parents are sitting casually on a dock making no effort to correct or even address the situation, it is as if they do not even see the swamp. They are minimizing everything, not even acknowledging that their car was just eaten by the mud. I am arguing, I am furious they endangered us – they are denying, lying to themselves and me. I am done. I leave. I start walking with little bubby. I don’t know where I am going , it is a road I have never traveled on but I am going. I am walking away.

The symbolism here is clear – being in the car with little bubby not strapped in while my parents are not in control of the vehicle is a metaphor for how unsafe it is to expose little bubby to my family’s dysfunction because my parents still do not have a handle on things. The trauma is still happening and as the dream illustrates, they are still in denial and minimizing. If I continue to expose little bubby to their sickness I become the unstable branch and little bubby will never trust me because I did not keep him safe. This will not be out story. This ends now.

I will not be the unstable branch. I will keep both little bubby and myself safe, I will protect us both from my family’s chaos. This is my job, I am momma and my family of origin is mine to walk away from. My husband keeps showing up absent in these dreams because he cannot save me, not matter how much I want him to. I am not small, I am the hero of this story, and it is time to go.

I don’t know where I am going but I am not lost. I will never be lost again because I will not play small and abandon myself, I will not try to belong where I do not and abandon myself, I am ready to feel my pain and love myself well – I will never abandon myself again.

I may not know where this path leads but I do know I am meant to be on it, it is mine. I cannot walk other people’s paths home, the only way to find myself is through myself.

I am my hero

This is All I Get

My father popped in to say hello to little bubby and I. It was kismet because I was actually preparing to call him.

I miss him. He has always been the the closest thing to a calm in the storm of my family for me. He is the only one who has ever felt even close to safe. I have never doubted his love.

He held little bubby and we chatted casually for a few minutes then I told the truth.

Dad I don’t know how to communicate with Mom and I do not know what else to do. I do not mean to drag you into the middle of our relationship issues but I am at a loss, I do not know where to go from here.

Then he told the truth and it broke my heart wide open.

If you are waiting for your mother to take responsibility for anything, you will be waiting the rest of your life. It is never going to happen, it is not who she is.
She is not interested in having honest, difficult, uncomfortable conversations even if it would mean deeper connection, healing, and growth.
She does not want to lay anything out on the table and deal with it.
She is not okay with what you are doing.
You have to accept her for who she is and stop fighting for something different; this is it, she is never going to be different.

I am 35 years old. For 35 years I have been fighting with this woman. I have been energetically and directly/verbally begging to be seen, to be allowed to be who I am and that be okay and enough. I have been DESPERATE for connection.

But this is it, this is all the mother I get, she is never going to be different. It is time to stop fighting.

I am devastated.

I feel ripped open. I feel orphaned, motherless. The loss is immense.

I do not hate her for this truth. She cannot give me what she does not have, she has never been able to. My mother was wounded by her mother and I believe that her hurt is so great that she simply does not have anything left over for me. She cannot give love she does not have to give, and I know now that there is a difference between someone telling you they love you and them actually loving you. I know what love feels like now and she is not it.

All of this true AND I am still devastated. My pain is so deep and so vast, I feel I could cry every minute of everyday for a whole week straight, and not be through it.

She has always been the raging water and I have always been trying not to drown. There is a piece of me that wants to slip beneath the surface now and sink. I have been fighting for so long for something I know now will never be different. I feel defeated.

I will not drown in my mother’s rage. To do so would be to agree to carry this pain with me forever. I will not. I will not pass on my mother wound to those I love, I will not.

I will feel my pain. I will grieve. Then I will rise off this branch and fly. I will stop trying to fit somewhere I do not belong.

After my talk with my dad, the pieces of me that want to play small showed up and tempted me with numbing habits I like to engage in to avoid my pain. Here eat this, go buy yourself something nice, watch TV all day, call someone and gossip.

No. It is time to feel the pain. I have been numbing for 35 years, no more. Someone has to take care of me, I am that someone. I will not destroy myself as a way to avoid my pain.

After my conversation with my father I felt closed in being in my home. I needed some space to process. Little bubby and I ran an errand together to accommodate this need. While we were out I was seeing cacti everywhere. On blankets, bowls, bags. Cactus symbolizes self-love for me; it is a plant that relies heavily on itself – even when there is a “love drought” the cactus can survive because of the inner supply of love.
I appreciated the reminder but did not connect too deeply with the message because cactus are in fashion right now, this is less of a message and more of a fluke.

Wrong.

The Universe showed up for me twice in my pain. Driving home from our errand I looked out the window while at a red light and there was a single cactus plant growing alone on the side of the road. Message received. The love I am longing for is my own.

Then at the end of the day little bubby and I went outside and watched the most dazzling sunset I have witnessed since his birth. The sky was on fire. Reds, oranges, pinks, peaches, purples, and deep magnificent blues. There was one solitary star in the middle of it all shining its light bright enough to be seen even in the midst of this glorious display of color. Again, I see this as a message that I am okay on my own. I am enough, I always have been. My love will sustain me and once I have felt my pain and am freed from this burden I believe my love and light will shine so bright that I will be that star.

This gaping wound was caused by lack of love, it will be filled and healed with love, that is the only way I know. I will love myself, I will give love freely, I will accept it gratefully, without shame. I will be love.

I will close this difficult post with the same words I used to hold myself after my last post because I understand it is my job to hold me now, that will never be her job again.

I am my own salvation. I will use these words to rescue/save/heal/connect/love myself.

I see your pain. I am here. You are not alone. This was NEVER okay. I will protect you. We will get help. This will not continue. 

I love you.

You are lovable.

You are loved.

And once more.. I love you. You are lovable. You are loved. You are love.

 

Salvation Spoken

When processing pain in therapy my therapist often asks, what does that piece of you need?

It is a way to help me look inward and connect with the injured part of myself and then show up in connection to support and heal myself.

Over the years my parts have been injured by my mother’s words, as well as my mother’s silence. Her words and silence have been used as a form of psychological warfare – gas lighting, silent treatment, shaming..

I was thinking recently about this injury – the injury caused by words – I was thinking, What if words could save me? What if the place of injury is also the place of salvation.

To answer my therapist’s question, I think that is what my parts need, words. The right words.

Instead of you can never tell anyone what happened. I need I see your pain, I am here, You are not alone.

Instead of this is normal or that never happened. I need this is not okay, I will protect you, we will get help, this will not continue.

Instead of yelling, I need I love you. You are lovable. You are loved.

Instead of the silent treatment, I need truth speaking coming from a place of love and connection.

I am my own salvation. I will use these words to rescue/save/heal/connect/love myself.

I see your pain. I am here. You are not alone. This was NEVER okay. I will protect you. We will get help. This will not continue. 

I love you.

You are lovable.

You are loved.

self-love.jpg

 

 

This Sickness Won’t Last

I spoke with my brother and stepped out of our relationship on a Monday, that Wednesday I saw my therapist. I explained how the grief I felt churning felt stuck beneath the surface, unable to flow. I explained I want to feel my pain, I do not want it trapped inside me festering. I explained how confused I am; I feel pain swirling inside me, I want to feel it, why am I experiencing this disconnection? Why can’t I feel my pain.

She doesn’t have answers, just reflections. She cautions about holding my pain in; it can (and will) manifest in your body.

By Friday I was sick. Congested. More yuck stuck inside my body, unable to get out. I want it out. ALL OF IT. The yuck, the pain, the grief, the truth. The message from my body is clear – I DO NOT WANT TO HOLD THIS, and if you make me – I will make you MISERABLE.

My in-laws are in town. I am grateful.

I am grateful to have help with little bubby while I am sick. I am grateful for family connection that feels safe. I am grateful for boundaried care giving that allows me to rest and feel supported without fear. I am grateful for the opportunity to practice being seen.

I allowed my mother-in-law to see me. It was scary. I did not cry. I am not small and I was telling the truth;

I am not in my relationship with my brother right now. I love him AND there are experiences from our childhood together that I need/want to heal and I recognize this happens outside of our relationship. 

My parents are not around right now because things have shifted and we are spending less time with them. My mother has difficulty with communication and boundaries so we do not allow them to babysit little bubby. 

I am working on these relationships. I am rebuilding.

I don’t know how I feel about being seen. It is like asking my husband to hold my hand while I experience my pain. This is support, this is connection, AND this is foreign.

Blowing my nose to relieve the congestion I am experiencing does not necessarily feel good, it is what my body needs in order to heal itself and feel better though. Doing this well help me feel good.

Asking for support, seeking out connection in new vulnerable ways, allowing myself to be seen in my painful truths does not necessarily feel good, it is what my soul needs to heal itself and feel better though. Doing this well help my soul feel good.

I hid the truth/from the truth to survive. I will not hide anymore.
I disconnected from my pain to survive. I will not disconnect anymore.
I am sick today, in this moment. I will not always be sick.

truth speaking

Hand Holding

When I decided the time had come to step back from my relationship with my brother, not figuratively but literally – it was a Monday morning and I knew it was time, part of me immediately wanted to play small. This piece started coming up with excuses for why now is not the time – if I wait two days I will see my therapist and I could talk to her first, I should wait until Friday so he will have the weekend to process, my husband’s family is coming into town so he will be less available to me emotionally..

This piece of me believes that I am not big enough to handle this on my own, she also believes she is responsible for others. It was time to show her she is safe, my therapist and my husband will not be the ones who show up to save her – I will. It was also time to show her she is not responsible for my brother or anyone else for that matter.

I do not need anyone to hold my hand, I am an adult, I am capable, I am big.

That is what hand holding looked like when I was small. I needed validation, reassurance, more validation. Hand holding in my BIG place looks different; it is my husband sitting on the toilet holding my hand while I cry naked in the bath, it is my therapist energetically holding my hand as I express my grief and pain.

Hand holding when I was small felt easy, I was asking everyone else to do the hard stuff for me, I wanted to be saved from my truth/my experience. Hand holding now is harder, it requires me to vulnerable. It requires me to hold my truth and my pain and be seen. That is what hand holding in the big place is, it is a request to be seen. This takes courage.

I am the hero of my story, I am the one who will be doing the saving, I am not small, I can do hard things – including asking to be seen by asking for someone I love to hold my hand.

hand holding

We Don’t Know How to Do This

After my conversation with both my brother and my parents I was surprised to find that I was feeling okay about things. I had a moment of expressed frustration over my feeling of not being seen by my parents and my mother placing appearances over me again; otherwise though I was okay. At first.

I completed some chores, watched some TV with my husband, and then wrote for a little while. It was after writing that some of those churning emotions started to break the surface.

I ran myself a bath, I knew I needed to be held by the water. I lay in the water listening to Praying by Kesha and the pain surfaced further.

I started thinking of my soul family – should I reach out for support? I had energetically called on them for support before I ever had the conversation, maybe I should connect.. I talked myself out of it by telling myself it was too late at night. I heard my husband watching reruns of a show we like in the living room. Maybe he could hold my hand, that might feel nice.

I laid in the water for another 5 minutes hesitating, too afraid of my vulnerability to ask for what I needed –  then I did it. I called his name and he came. I told him what I needed, will you sit here and hold my hand? and he did.

I thought it would make it easier to experience my grief but it didn’t. I still felt myself wanting to disconnect from my pain, and now even more so because I had an audience. I also felt my husband disconnecting from me even while physically connected through holding hands. I decided to voice the disconnection I was feeling.

What we realized is neither of us know how to do this – connect on this vulnerable level. I am naked crying in the dark in  a bath tub, it is pretty vulnerable. Both of us hide when our pain  and vulnerability are this intense. I go to my closet, he hides behind a closed door. With all the connection we experience through truth speaking and collective accountability in our relationship, this is foreign.

There was connection in the mere act of telling the truth though. This feels weird, I don’t know how to allow myself to be supported like this AND I know that is what I want. And on his end, This feels weird, I don’t know how to show up, you are doing something I would never allow myself to do and it scares me.

By the end of our naked hand holding we were telling each other you are my best friend and I love you.

It still felt awkward and I was not able to let myself have the big screaming cry I know is buried inside me dying to get out AND I feel like we touched something important. I feel like this is part of the shift. If we can learn how to connect in our deepest darkest places, truly connect, by asking for, offering, and accepting support and love when we would normally hide and isolate.. I think that is how we experience the BIG love.

At the end when I was drying off I was thinking of little bubby. He does not hold his big screaming cries in, he lets them fly. He does not bottle up his pain/frustration/fear AND he seeks out comfort when he feels these things. None of this feels shameful to him because he is loved in these places instead of being rejected.

I want to feel my big pain and not feel shameful. I want to feel my big pain and experience comfort instead of rejection.

I want to feel my big pain and feel love.

i choose love

Lifting the Rug

I took a BIG step last week towards my goals of not playing small, embracing my story in love and owning it, and untangling/no longer trying to belong where I do not belong.

I spoke with my brother and made him aware of my decision to step away from our relationship. I do not know if this is permanent or not and made that clear. What I do know is I want to heal and grow and that happens away from him.

He was supportive. He said he wants me to heal and grow as well and that he has faith our connection is strong enough to withstand distance and time.

I do not think it could have gone better. It validates the parts of me that love him.

I told him that I planned to make our parents aware so I could set boundaries with them around the situation however I would not be going into details with them because my relationship with my brother is separate from my relationship with my parents. He was fine with this.

My parents were less understanding. In fact my Dad said just that, they don’t understand.

I had inside reactions to this but resisted the urge to explain myself, I do not owe them an explanation, my relationship with my brother is separate.

My mother said nothing. Radio silence. Her silence spoke volumes.

Then as I am saying my goodbyes she asks, what are you going to tell your family?

I assumed she meant my husband and little bubby because that is who I think of when someone says family to me. I asked for clarification on her question, that is when I realized she was concerned about what I was planning to say to the extended family.

There she is.

True to form she is concerned less about the fact that the family is fractured – she literally said, there is nothing to say, when I told her – and is more concerned about what others will think.

Um, there is a lot you could say, Mom. How about – I hope you find the peace you are searching for. OR I am sorry it has come to this. OR This makes me sad. OR I love you. OR I support you in your healing.

I told her that I would not lie about my cutting off contact with my brother, however I would not be publicizing it either because it is no one’s business.

I am not sure that eased her concern, that is not my job though.

I have done something unforgivable in my family – I told the truth. I admitted out loud that I am hurt and that it is not okay and I am done pretending it is.

This is the shift. I have broken another mold, I cannot  will not shrink to fit somewhere I no longer fit/belong.

I thought I would be experiencing waves of grief tonight after that call. I feel them churning but so far they have not bubbled far enough up to spill out. In this moment I think I am more sad that my parents are still refusing to see me by refusing to see my pain. Appearances still count for more than connection.

I will not abandon myself for you.

swamp thing

You Could Lose Yourself

These words came back to me after my recent drowning dream.

My mother said these words to me about being a mother before I ever became pregnant.

My mother never went to college. She was a straight A student, great at math, intelligent; she did not go because she did not see a point. At least that is what I intuit from her story. She talks about how for the longest time she was not able to dream of a future, for her it was just black – nothing there. I understood her meaning. I used to have this problem as well.

My mother says had she gone she thinks she would have been an architect. I can see this alternate reality where my mother had followed this dream. She has a gift for drawing floor plans, she created the floor plan for the house she and my father live in as well as the floor plan for my Aunt and Uncle’s home.

I wonder how different my life would have been if I had not only seen my mother wings but actually seen her use them.

My mother plays small.

She struggles with scarcity, she is driven by fear. I do not think she ever healed from her own childhood trauma and as a result she is playing out her hurt over and over and over on herself and those she claims to love.

I think that is how pain works. It is a spiral, the more we try to run from it, the more it comes circling back around presenting a new opportunity to be felt/experienced. The thing is, I think when we stop running and agree to feel it, that is when we are finally free from the cycle.

My mother told me you can lose yourself in motherhood. Lose your sense of self, your identity. I believe that is her truth, I see how that is true for her. My mother does not understand autonomy, separation of self in relationships. So yea, I am sure she does feel lost. I believe the reason she struggles with separating herself from the people she is in relationships with is because her mother physically abandoned her without warning. As a result I believe my mother experiences even the slightest separation as abandonment.

Her children growing into adults and becoming independent felt like abandonment to her so she did what she could to infantilize us so we stayed dependent.

My father and I have next to no relationship outside of my mother because to her that feels like exclusion and to her exclusion feels like abandonment.

When my son was born I said something about soaking up the moments with him because I know he will grow up and be big and life will take him exciting distant places. My mother’s response was that we would have to find a way to keep him here.

No. 

I will not limit the people I love. I will never ask anyone I love to play small. Our love will be secure enough that physical distance will not minimize it.

I will show my son my wings, I will not only teach him to fly – I will actively encourage it!

With each passing day my path forward is becoming clearer. With each passing day the road I leave behind me seems easier to walk away from.

My mother lost herself in mothering, and for me it feels the opposite – this is the place where I am finding myself.