*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.
*All these images can be found on my Instagram feed at @thisdreamergirl
If I had to come up with ONE word about what it’s like being a mama as a Highly Sensitive Person it would be.
I have been wanting to write this post since BEFORE my beloved Leonardo Salvatore Russo (happily we call him Leo) joined us on October 30th at 10:13 pm via Cesarean, almost ACHING to get this out of me (almost a cry for acknowledgement and support) but I didn’t feel I had enough experience with how I’m feeling, what it takes to be a mama under my belt to even say anything with assurance. Now that two months have gone by… I can keep this in no longer, and I have to get this out of me.
Side Note: I’m about to share my vulnerability, my insecurities, my “I have NO idea what I’m doing” that I would appreciate your compassion when writing your comments. Parenting is, I am finding an OPEN TARGET to criticism, even with those closest to us… so many different philosophies that how I choose to take care of my son might not be how you would, I would ask you please honor my decisions and not comment your suggestions. What I could use is your ACKNOWLEDGEMENT that you see me and hear me. Being a mama (or a papa) is a life altering experience and NO ONE prepares you for what you experience… even if you do read every book written. (which I admittedly didn’t)
SO many feelings, so many changes in who I am as a person, what I now need in order to feel “normal”… so many mind blowing HIGHS as well as close to being sucked into a BLACK HOLE LOWS that I almost feel like a crazy person still. Add to that that I am officially a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) my sensitivity to almost everything has become SO heightened that I don’t think I’ll EVER be the same. *okay yea.. lets not forget those pregnancy hormones too.
Let’s start with his birth…
While I will tell you that I had only one goal for his arrival… TO BE CALM, I absolutely had a vision for how I saw my labor and delivery. I was looking forward to ‘doing the work’ through each contraction and reach down to pull my child from my body as he takes his first breath. I wanted no drug interventions… a quiet room so I could focus, and the ability to move freely to help me push through the surges.
Yea… that didn’t happen. My blood pressure started rising a few weeks before (NEVER had blood pressure issues before this) and as my OB said… was on the threshold of having Pre Eclampsia so after some discussions with my husband, my doula and a few close friends… I decided to maintain calm and follow the direction of my OB and be admitted to the hospital where I begin the process of being enduced.
Long story short but after 12 hours and the highest dose of Pitocin… I was still not any more than 1cm dilated and add to that, my babys heart rate would dip after a chemically enduced contraction. I am convinced MY BODY WAS NOT READY TO GO INTO LABOR. It was like I was watching the worst case scenario shared in the movie of “The Business of Being Born“. I did my best to honor my preferences but in the end… I found myself walking to the operating room and what seemed like 15 minutes later… while I was violently shivering from either the epidural, etc… the doctors delivered my son via cesarean.
*I do not even remember this moment at all and actually just saw these photos today. Makes me sad and weepy.
Yes… most people tell me that I should just be grateful he was delivered safely and that he’s healthy… of course I wanted him to be here safely and in good health… I just had NO idea how I would playback this experience and with such melancholy and sadness. From not being able to stop shivering while on the table… to looking over and seeing him get shots within a few minutes of birth without making us aware what they were and finally putting that goop on his eyes that I thought was ONLY for the purposes of keeping infection out of them from coming out of the birth canal which is NOT where he came from. I sadly think I will always have a black cloud over that day. I cannot tell you how sad I am about this.
I feel like my body failed me… blood pressure issues? What? Never in my life has this topic come up. My body didn’t dilate at ALL? I know about post partum depression and agree that around this topic… I definitely am feeling the symptoms. Then again… being sensitive, feeling so much… is it normal to be sad about this? I think any woman would feel sadness about how they welcome their first born not going as expected to feel a pang of sadness. Add to that that I feel strongly about my feelings… that that sadness would be a bit more intensified. Since 2 months have passed, I can say it doesn’t affect me like it did at the beginning but I’ll always look back on this moment, like I am now and feel sadness and most likely shed a tear.
From the minute he arrived… I think my being sensitive kicked into high gear and I’m pretty sure I will never return to my pre- Leo level again. Honestly I hope it never does. I feel SO much more empathetic than I ever have.. my heart has opened SO much more… to my son, what I need, to my repeated failed attempt to give my husband (who is not as sensitive and who needs completely different things than I do) what he needs. (More on relationships in Part Three)
Those first few days in the hospital were SO HIGHLY overwhelming. From all the visitors (I had NO quiet alone time with Leo the whole time I was in the hospital… something a sensitive woman DESPERATELY needs, I think it almost was a detriment to how I even feel now. I never got that initial spiritual/emotional connection that only being quiet and introducing myself to him would bring). The fact that 24 hours post my cesarean, I could not move my legs, eventually I could not get out of bed without lots of help…. not being able to get up to change Leo… rock him…etc… that Peter or someone else had to do everything, triggered me. The 2nd night was SO bad… he cried and cried… nothing Peter did (because he was mobile) would work and the only way Leo would be quiet and sleep was at my breast which I loved and also hated because I thought there was something wrong with that. *Come to find out about the SECOND DAY SYNDROME – If you have a mama to be in your life… send her this post… TRUST ME. I wish I knew about this. Finally, upon us getting ready to leave the hospital (packed bags, etc), finding out that my blood pressure was still high that the Dr was pushing that we stay in the hospital another day… I was doing my best to just keep it together…for myself and my husbands sake… STAY CALM. *Thankfully after taking some meds (which I was quite against) my blood pressure stabilized enough that I could go home a few hours later.)
The hospital staff was wonderful, my experience in the hospital will always be a pleasant one…definitely would recommend Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC to others, but what was happening within me was a totally different story. I was desperate to for a moment to reflect.. to soak it in.. but there wasn’t ONE minute. It was like the minute we agreed to be enduced… it is a marathon that besides stopping at a water station… I have not stopped. *or slept.
So now my heart is WIDE open…. I visualize my body on a dissecting table like that poor frog in biology class with those long pins keeping the guts exposed. I don’t see my heart NOT being on the outside again, anytime soon.
Honestly… I could not be happier. I love this new part of me…I feel like I feel SO much more, everything is just so raw. Tough part is how do I blend this new joyous and unsure part of me with the rest of the world who either doesn’t understand or like that I now need more quiet… I cry more at the little things that move me (like my sons beautiful smile or watching him sleep), that I am very conscious about how my son is feeling (hence I do not believe in letting him “cry it out”. Yes, a good cry is definitely therapeutic.. but not as a newborn! Duh!) and finally the fact that I am now a MAMA… (seriously if you see me…give me a hug on this, look me in the eyes and say… “Yes Kerilyn.. YOU are a mama.” because I take this role so so seriously in my heart.) I’m not sure how I’ll heal the hurt in my heart from his birth not going as I envisioned it or how I can give myself permission to shed a tear when I think of it when the rest of the world tells me to just “get over it”. I feel both stronger in my resolve about who I am as a woman… and more unsure than I ever have been.
Whatever happens… I am SO grateful for understand that I am sensitive (Thanks to Elaine Aron)… that I know about vulnerability.. shame (thanks to Brene Brown) and as I learn how to blend this part of me with the rest of the world.
Finally… It now blows my mind that the child celebrates his or her birthday on the day of their birth when I honestly think it should be the mama that needs to celebrate. This is THE day your mother did all she could to make sure that you were welcomed with open arms… THAT is truly a mothers birth-day. I think I’m going to start a ritual come next October 30th.. that part of my sons 1st birthday will be a moment that I can celebrate in this experience myself.
Welcome to this crazy dream, my dear Leo. I am so excited for the many MANY opportunities that we will have together to learn forgiveness. Mama loves you. Thank you for being my teacher.
I am constantly amazed at the myriad of amazing women and their inspiring websites, with their HEART CENTERED missions and purposes. (It’s growing exponentially by the day) I lovingly swim in the pool with so many of them, and revel in their own bravery and decision to NOT live any other way but FULL OUT. I started blogging back in 2001 (before there was such a thing as a BLOG) and it’s blown my mind how many kindreds have decided to jump in to share what’s on their minds (and in their hearts.)
For instance: I am a part of Hopeful World.
Every week they share a new Topic… a new mission of sorts. This past weeks mission was about TRUST. The pied piper women of this website challenged us to write a letter to ourselves and gave an example from yet another amazing woman, doing amazing things – Rachael Maddox. She wrote a post a few days ago, called “A Tough Love Letter for the Changing Tides” and boy wouldn’t this be the most APPROPRIATE time for some tough love aimed from myself, to myself.
I’m also a part of The Holiday Council by Molly Mahar , whose creator, Molly Mahars energy is thoroughly infectious to me and I find myself giddy with excitement to soak up her energy and be near someone who inspires me to take action, as I
- Check in and Celebrate what DID work in 2012 and Reconcile with what didn’t work too.
- Give myself the time and the energy to creatively envision (with the help of her AMAZING worksheets) my goals for 2013 (Being a greater peace, NO MATTER WHAT) as a way of documenting where I am.
As I was reading Rachaels tough love letter, I thought what an awesome way to almost expel the negative JUJU that has been lingering in the corners of this past year and sweep it out to allow for fresh and new for 2013. Molly last nite on our weekly call talked about actively doing something to CLEAR out space… I’m thinking what better way to clear out space in my heart and mind than with some Tough Love.
This is a tough love letter. I’m only writing it because I believe in you and your deepest health and happiness so fully, and I know, plain and simple, you could use a kick in the ass right now.
The truth is, the time for (wanting to be in control with EVERYTHING (Read: certainty) is over. No more dragging your feet. It’s time for you to be at PEACE. Like really.
Yes, always being upset that your life didn’t go the way YOU envisioned and holding on SO tight to the belief that you are a victim to your circumstances were important because you believed the LIES that you were conditioned to believe (always striving, “Only losers give up”, “Who says it’s going to be EASY?, “It could always be worse”) but now, you’re ready for everything that ISNT that. To know… REALLY KNOW, that it doesn’t matter what you DO, SAY, ACHIEVE, WIN, LOSE (as in lbs) – doesn’ t matter where you LIVE, how much you EARN, what car you DRIVE – YOU, my dear wistful soul, my beloved Searcher – ARE SIGNIFICANT.
So if you want it, get serious about the shit that’s in the way.
If you want to feel in the moment, you’re going to have to stop thinking about the future/focusing on the past, crappy experiences you’ve had. Plain and fucking simple.
Instead, you gotta work harder to tell yourself there is NO WHERE ELSE you are supposed to be but RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.If you want to BE HAPPY (like your husband keeps telling you you’re not) *and you agree with him, quit being everywhere OTHER than where you ARE already!
Start telling yourself, “I am CHOOSING to be here, right now.”.If you want peace then stop doing/thinking things that are not peaceful. BELIEVE you are COMPLETE instead.
[Repeat variations of the above sentences as many times as needed. With as many “come on all-fucking-ready”s as feels sincere.]
You CAN be happy and at peace. (No really, you can. I give you PERMISSION.)You can also still be working on the goals that you have for yourself in your life. Just do it with a sense that NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, you’re still doing great!
And in case those fall through, you can always textyour AMAZING friend Laura to remind you.
Whatever it takes for you to be AT PEACE. Because it’s fucking time. You can’t FIGHT YOUR LIFES CIRCUMSTANCES anymore. You just CAN’T.
It’s NOT working the way you have done it up till now, It’s TIME to try something differently.If you keep going down that old road of FIGHT, FLIGHT, and FREEZE, you’ll probably end up with dis-ease and hatred for the things OUTSIDE of yourself that have NOTHING to do with why you are where you are (Reminder: Everything “OUT THERE” is a projection of what’s going on INSIDE. There is no “Out there”).
The truth is, you’re meant for being a vehicle for UNCONDITIONAL LOVE!!!!
Own your part in this process. DO your part. You’ve waited long enough. You’ve paid your dues. It’s time. It’s simply time.
I dare you to FORGIVE YOURSELF. FORGIVE THE WORLD. FORGIVE YOUR PARENTS. FORGIVE EVERYTHING YOU SEE.
Crazy love & steadfast belief,
Your inner tough-love mama