Home in My Truth

I want to share with you one of my most sacred stories.

 

It is a story of pain. of grief. of fear. of shame. AND it is a story of love.

It is time. Time to LOVE myself openly. Time to feel any and all things that I feel about this OPENLY, FREELY, PUBLICLY, TRUTHFULLY.

With my hand at my heart I share with you something precious.

I was sixteen years old when my relationship with motherhood began.

I was afraid.

I wanted to be small. I remember that specifically.

I wanted to be small, a child, innocent, not capable of creation. I wanted to hide, I wanted to be saved, I wanted to disappear.

I was afraid.

I told my mother. I stared at the blue of my bed, tears in my eyes, and I slipped away.

She told my father.. I am not mad, I am disappointed.

They made the decision for me. I was a child, their child. They were saving me, I was letting them. I said nothing.

I was not saved.

My father was noticeably absent. He dropped my mother and I at the clinic and left. My mother dressed me that day. Like a child, she picked out my denim overalls and pale pink shirt, and my hat. It was important that I wear a hat so she could hide my face from the protesters. She was saving me.

I was not saved.

A woman took me into an office and talked to me about sex, how the female body works. My mother asked if the talk was necessary, she thought I was too young to be hearing it.

Years later looking back at the parts of this story I consciously remember, it amazes me how powerful denial can be.

If I treat her like a child and dress her like a child, she will be a child again and we will make this go away and she can be my baby again.

I am sorry Mom. I am sorry we had to experience this together. I am also sorry that I can no longer carry the burden of these untruths for you.

THIS HAPPENED.

I was not given anything for pain or comfort.

I know that I felt everything but I remember almost nothing.

I remember feeling empty.

An indescribable emptiness. The floor opened up and ate me up whole. This is where my largest void was created – in this room with my feet in stirrups where I was made empty.

This is where I became hard, rigid, AFRAID. This is where I was made empty.

I could not love myself anymore. The darkness enveloped me. It did not creep in slowly, it swallowed me whole in one gulp. Then I was gone, all that was left was empty.

Empty and shame and fear.

There are so many stories in this story. This pain is so layered there were times I never thought I would be able to unravel enough to tell any part of this story with clarity. I will start here, with this truth; when I was sixteen I became a mother, a mother who would never hold her baby.

This is my start. My BIGGEST moment. I am allowing YOU to see me in my most naked state of truth and love and pain. I do not know who you are, I do not know if you are safe.

What I do know is that I AM SAFE. I am safety.

I am no longer empty. I went so deep into myself to rescue this mother who was abandoned. I love her without exception. Without fear, without shame. I am in love with her and this is not dangerous, it is one of my most sacred truths; I love my darkness.

Nikoli

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Misremembering

Recently one of my dearest friends and her fiance came to stay. I was over joyed! I could not wait to see her and I could not wait to meet and HUG this man who is loving my friend so well.

The visit was wonderful. We talked, and played with Lu and little bubby, and shared a meal I made with intention from the heart. We laughed and played games and shared truths. I felt seen and was grateful to bear witness to their truest selves as well. It was connection in the best ways.

It was wonderful AND there was a moment where my shame crept in.

I sat with this feeling of shame for days after their visit. I held her and listened with a heart to understand her pain. Her pain came from feeling like a bad friend to this woman I love so much.

Once I touched the pain I knew what I had to do.

First I had to show myself love. I am not a bad friend. The part of me that was experiencing shame was not allowing any room for the fact that this friend and I have known each other for about 20 years, our relationship has evolved and grown. If I engaged with this friend now the way I did 10 years ago then Yes, I would say I could do better. 10 years ago we were different kinds of friends though, AND I still think looking back at it I could have done better. That is my truth. We weren’t as close but we did spend a lot of time together and the shame was partially coming up because I don’t think I honored that time we spent well enough (there is the not-good-enough creeping in). So I held all of these truths in love knowing that I can be less than the perfect friend AND be worthy of love and connection.

The next thing I needed to do after processing all this was speak my truth. Shame cannot survive being spoken, Thank you Brene Brown.

I reached out to my friend and let her know how I was impacted by my feelings of not honoring our connection back then and that I am grateful for her now and that I hold our bond sacred.

That was all it took. Like a candle burning down, that light and love I shared with myself and my friend melted away all the shame.

I am grateful for all the ways I get to practice sitting in my truths and holding my pain now. I am grateful for connection. I am grateful.

 

I AM an Artist

Another way I am stepping into my truth and allowing myself to be seen as an artist is by gifting my art to those I love.

I decided that is how I am celebrating love this year, with my art. My art is sacred to me, how better to celebrate my love of others than with something I hold personally sacred?

With that said, this is extra scary. I felt big by putting a permanent hole in a wall at home and hanging my art for anyone who enters my home to see.. Here is the thing about that though, my husband and I are major introverts, we don’t have many people enter our home. Our home is our haven, we rarely have guests; so the truth is even while practicing being big, it was still a rather small step because I knew no one would be seeing it. I won’t diminish this growth though, it was an important small step because it took my art out of the closet to be displayed proudly in the open, in the light.

Gifting my art feels excruciating vulnerable. The not-good-enoughs want to fly up inside me and scream at me for being so bold to think my art is good enough to give away. They want to tell me I am acting like a five year old trying to wrap up my scribble scrabble drawing like a Christmas present when the truth is no one wants that gift.

That is not my truth. I love my art. No one else has to. They can keep it or not, display it or not. While I make each piece with intention and love for the person receiving it, it is still their gift to do with what they want. I love the art I am creating though and that not only counts for something, it counts for everything.

In the near future I have two opportunities to celebrate people I love and I have already created art for both of these people. I thought this would be harder but the truth is, it came so easy. Both pieces flowed out of me and are absolutely magnificent.

I am not ashamed to share this piece of myself. I am not afraid to be seen. I am not small.

I AM an Artist.

i am an artist

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

Bringing Light to my Dark

There is something I have been carrying in shame for sometime that I need to own and bring into the light in order to move forward writing here and be free.

I mentioned in my post Coming Home that one of the reasons I stepped away from Adding to Nine was because I knew I was ready to be seen and at the same time there was a piece of me still wanting to hide, specifically from the ridicule of someone who I knew followed my blog with malice.

Time to own this story.

Before this blog I was writing in a different space. It was responsible for holding space for my experiences over a 5 year span of time as I returned to  college and obtained my Master’s degree in Social Work. When I started the blog I posted the link on FB (I was still on social media at the time) and to my Pinterest account. I invited my friends and family to follow along while I recorded my experiences. What I did not realize is I was also opening myself up to followers I did not expect, specifically my ex’s girlfriend.

Apparently she snooped my social media, let’s be clear though; I did the exact same thing to her which is how this all got started.

I was on her Pinterest and followed a link that I assumed was to a social work blog (we are both social workers). Well it was, kind of.. It was her personal blog. I did not even realize it at first. I read a post that was pretty general then I read another and got smacked in the face with an enormous wave of shame.

I read about a paragraph in and realized the post was about ME. It was about this run-in that she and I had in a hospital elevator when I was working for the hospital and she was interning there. It was her perception of the interaction and man it did not paint a pretty picture of me. I was mortified. My perception of the encounter was a bit different. I remember thinking, Oh Shit it’s Gena – Be nice! Don’t give her anything to say to him.

Back then I was very concerned with being in control and being “the bigger person”. I remember peppering her with questions and trying to be nice and engaged. Her perception of me apparently was that I was frantic and on the verge of a panic attack. I was very uncomfortable, I do not doubt that both of these things were true.

On top of being pretty embarrassed that she was putting this encounter out there on the internet, she was also pretty unkind. She talked about how some people from my former group of friends (including my ex) labeled me as manipulative and a liar. Oof! One-two punch to the gut.

So.. with this began a 5 year passive-agressive internet relationship between me and my ex’s girlfriend (who during this course of time became his wife) where we communicated with one another through our blogs.

It was awful.

I would post about something and a day later she would post about that same thing but from a contradictory position. I did the same to her.

It reached a fever pitch when she showed up at a charity walk with my ex and their baby that I had said I would be attending because my friend was the speaker at the event.

Needless to say, it got weird.

Here are the reasons it was hard for me to own this story when it was happening:

I felt petty. Like super petty. Middle school girl fueled by drama petty.
A dark shamey piece of me enjoyed the tit-for-tat.
I enjoyed the attention.
I was a total troll.
I was afraid. Lots of reasons why but that is the fundamental truth, I was afraid and acting out from a place of scarcity.

And finally, towards the end, my judgment towards her started to melt away into compassion. More and more I was seeing how we are the same. Then it was no longer fun, then it was just sad.

I couldn’t be that person anymore, I couldn’t play the game. It did not seem like she was going to blink first and back away so I decided I had to do this for both us, cut the energy source once and for all. Soon after I stopped writing here she stopped writing as well.

I come back knowing there is a chance she may still be there in the shadows. What is different now is that I am owning this story.

I was in a weird internet relationship with my ex’s wife where we played a game of judgment and one-upmanship for years.

Gena, if you are reading, I welcome you here. I hope my work brings you closer to your own. I am sorry for the part I played in our weird relationship through our blogs. Thank you for the way you showed up, you brought me work I could not have done otherwise.

brene