*OK SO… I started this post the day before Mothers Day, but you know… LIFE and moving and caring for Leo happened (which are excuses, I will totally admit Illana), so I let it sit. But, to honor the energy with which my thoughts came from, I will not edit this post, and continue to speak from before this Mothers Day has happened.
As Mothers Day is approaching, and this being my first mamas day with my beloved Leonardo, I find myself in a particularly uncomfortable intersection. On one hand, I’m SO excited to be able to honor my journey as a mama to our adorable little boy, as unclear and uncertain as it is sometimes, but married to this experience is a tightening in my chest as a very familiar feeling washes over me, more strongly than ever.
A few days ago, I read this brave post from a fellow kindred, whom I’ve never actually met yet (Gotta love interweb connections!), as she shared her deeper inner thoughts via The Bravery Blogging Project about her mama, and I felt that pull in my heart that is ALWAYS there, that I try to push down so I can maneuver as a somewhat functioning human being woman.
I want and need my mama.
The kicker is… my mother is still here. She’s still with us.
I feel both shame and courage to say what I’m about to say. Most likely if I post this on Facebook (which I’m not sure I will), some of my family will be reading this and perhaps already know my take on this very sensitive subject, or perhaps they will discover something new about me.
Either way, I mean NO harm and am solely attempting to honor MY OWN experience. I already hear the voices, in my head, telling me you’re all going to tell me how I’m a bad daughter that I feel this way and “What’s wrong with you…. Family comes first” “This is your MOTHER your talking about.”, etc…. There are always many sides to a relationship, and they ALL take work (as we all know), this is me sharing MY experience of and about my own mother. I’m going to do my best not to let this post come from a place of anger and sadness, but more simply of observation. (I’m gonna try anyway, no guarantees)
I don’t know my mother. Well, I know my mother, but I don’t KNOW her. And she doesn’t know me.
I want to say up front that for a some reason (I have my own conclusion about it, but that’s a post for another time) I do NOT have lots of memories of my childhood. It’s strange to me, that I don’t remember being little. Sure, I have a moment here, a moment there… but I don’t have lots of memories. Part of me thinks what I remember is only a story I was told about myself when I was little. It’s like the record button was never turned on until sometime when I was 11-12 (coincidentally, I was very sick and in the hospital for 2 months when I was 11, so it’s like I “woke up” after I recovered) and even then… very slowly.
I don’t know if it was always the case, that I didn’t know my mother or she know me, or if that happened when I was a teenager.
I VIVIDLY remember having a conversation with her at 16 years old, sitting on the piano bench in the den, about my then current experience of my parents marriage (wasn’t going so well, and honestly still isn’t), and how she told me she was making a decision to stay “for us”. How she told me she was a “willing victim”.
Oh how those words have haunted me.
My mother was the willing victim. I don’t know how soon before saying those words did she believe she was a willing victim, or what have you, but I wholeheartedly believe that because she firmly believes she is, a willing victim, is the reason why she is in the physical state she is in now.
When I was 17, and just lost my virginity to someone who didn’t give two SHITS about me (thought he did though), and was really struggling with depression (I really wanted this experience to be “special”), I really wanted to talk to my mom about it. I told her I needed her to be my friend and not my mom. She told me she would NEVER be my friend, and only my mom, and in that moment, I knew she’s always going to want to tell me what’s wrong or right, and not sit with me to help ME figure out where I am, even if it differed from what she thought I should do.
I never told her about what I was going through.
Oh, how I wished she would’ve been my friend from time to time.
It was in those two conversations that I made a CHOICE to be as OPEN and emotionally forthcoming as I could. Even though I wasn’t raised being okay to share my feelings. I knew that in those moments, I had a decision to make, to either be closed and emotionally unavailable, or although I had NO IDEA how to do it… to be open to how I’m feeling. Open to being touched (hugged) and hugging others. Honestly it was that very moment in my life that I go back to… to explain who I am today. I honestly love who I am today because of the decision I made when I was 16, sitting on that piano bench.
That said… it hasn’t been easy. Not knowing my mother or my mother knowing me.
What I wouldn’t have given to have my mother to call ME, when I was going through something, knowing I was going to have someone to hear and support (and gently guide) me along my way. Unfortunately, that has not been our path in this lifetime. Even today, when I share my experiences of raising Leo with her, she’s right there.. telling me what to DO or not to do.
I know it’s an older generation not to talk about feelings, but I really could’ve used my moms insight, her own wisdom and guidance to work out some really dark moments in my life to date.
If I were being completely honest, I don’t feel safe around my mom. Emotionally safe. Even today. Just because I have made the decision to go down the path of vulnerability and attempting to live Whole Heartedly (like Brene Brown so eloquently defined it), I know that that “willing victim” mentality lies within me too (I still struggle with this, within myself), seeing that’s what she showed us, and I have to stay in my choice, to stay open, when I’m around her. Also, I think my mother believes my being open is a weakness. She does not feel comfortable seeing me cry. Even after having Leo, in the midst of my hormone roller coaster, my DEFINITE post partum depression over not being able to breastfeed like I thought I was going to, she looks me in the face and tells me “Don’t cry.”
WHY DON’T CRY MOM??? WHY DON’T CRY????
It made me cry, just knowing she really thought I shouldn’t cry in this moment of my life. Even now.. writing this… I’m crying.
and I’m OKAY with it, *God Damn it.
*I never use these expletives in my daily language, but am using it here just to show how strongly I believe in what I am saying.
Maybe if she would’ve been okay with crying a bit more in her life, then she wouldn’t find herself where she is. Maybe she wouldn’t be in a loveless marriage, stuck in an ailing body.
At the same time, I think there is a part of her that admires my attempts of fearlessness, I remember in college when I wanted to travel to Hawaii, I could almost see a “Wish I was brave enough to do that” look in her eye. I know that before there was officially something called a blog, I would send daily emails to 70+ people Mon-Friday called My High/Low… and she would occasionally read them, so she would gleam from that things I liked which usually showed up in my stocking at Christmas. Chai Tea, Purple Candles (I went through a purple phase) but she never really asked me who I was or why I liked what I did. It always felt nice that she tried to do something that made me feel seen, but it was always a physical gift, a token, I’m sure to say “Even though I cannot say it, I do love and see you.” Still, it wasn’t and isn’t what this Highly Sensitive Woman needs or wants in her life.
I don’t need things, mama… I need YOU.
I need you to hold my hand, to wipe my tears with your hand, and sit with me, put your hand on my knee, and not say a word….that would mean more to me than you would EVER know.
But that’s not who she is. I have struggled with this all throughout my adulthood, sometimes feeling like maybe I haven’t worked hard enough to make our relationship stronger, so I would reach out, I would call more often (I even wrote her a 3-4 page, both sides, single spaced letter, telling her who I was, sharing some intense moments in my life… to which she never responded and when I asked her about it, 2 weeks later she said “It was nice.”), in the attempt to blaze a new path. Each time I felt I was exposing myself to more cuts and tears in the already sensitive layer surrounding me, keeping me functioning as an adult, and in turn, the little girl in me retreats into her world to heal the surface wounds.
The deep wound, I will be honest, I don’t know how to heal.
I won’t lie… my not feeling SAFE around my parents (my dad is a WHOLE other story, maybe my next post) is the reason why I made a conscious decision to keep my distance, when I went away to college. As I grew, figured out what I needed in order to be more open (usually, by learning the hard way), the teacher part of me wanted to share with them what I was learning (hence the name of this website) and well… my new found knowledge wasn’t and still isn’t well received. I am officially the black sheep with my parents, poking and prodding them to look at themselves in order to grow. My mom has told me that every time I come around, that I “stir the pot”, and that makes it worse for her. Uh… sorry mom?
And as she has gotten more and more physically impaired over the years, her focus on anything else but her pain has limited her significantly, both physically and emotionally. In her physical pain, she has allowed some tears to be shed, and when that happens, I see a side of her that I wish she would be okay with. It’s OKAY to cry when you’re in pain, mom. It’s okay. Only when she is pushed to her physical limit does she surrender to the pain and allow the tears to come out.
I feel sad for her.
Because I really do “see” her. I think we’re more alike than different, she was just taught who she was wasn’t okay… and instead of challenging that belief, like I did. She surrendered to it. I want to go back to who she was when she was 19, and tell her that she’s WORTH IT… and not to settle for anything. *hence, I know that I would not be here, but you get the point.
I have attempted to have a heart to heart with her a few times, but she gets so uncomfortable, I end up stop talking because I am feeling rejected and walk away.
Let me say that in NO WAY am I ungrateful for what they did give me. My parents took GREAT care of my sister and my physical needs. We didn’t have to want for ANYTHING. Seriously. That is NOT what I’m talking about here. AT ALL. This is about my emotional needs. 100%
I do not regret my decision to keep my distance. I LOVE who I am.. but it took a LOT of hard work. Trial and Error. STILL DOES TODAY. I had to be around people, kindreds, who helped me remember (yes, even the hard way) that it was okay that I made this choice to be open.
The kicker is.. if my parents were ANY OTHER KIND OF PEOPLE, I wouldn’t have made this choice, and perhaps, would not have chosen to be open and willing to be vulnerable. I don’t know how to tell them that I am grateful, so maybe you’ll hold my gratitude in your heart for me. When you see me, you’ll know that who I am is a CHOICE, one that I am glad I made, and mostly because of my parents.
And I can assure you… who I am today, because of my parents, has and will help me be as present and conscious in my raising Leo. I am SO grateful that I always have another choice. I want to live by the WholeHearted Parenting Manifesto (by Brene Brown) – I know this because of the choice I made to be open.
So how to heal the part of me that just needs my mama, but knows that in my mom being who she IS… helped me be who I AM today???
I’m working on that. Studying A Course in Miracles, has helped me see that in forgiving them, and forgiving myself for wishing it was any other way, will bring me the peace that I am looking for. Again, I’m working on it.
I think I am at peace that I know MY mama can’t be the person to give me what I need.
Still doesn’t change that little girl in me that just wants A MAMA influence in my life.
Sometimes… I just want to be able to have a mommy figure in my life to go to. To hold me. To tell me it’s going to be okay. To play with my hair while I lay in her lap.