why I’m “like this”

I’ve always questioned why I’m “like this”. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wondered why I associate love with fear and anxiety. Why, when (even as an adult) I thought, “I want my Mommy” I knew instinctively that I would not be comforted.

Turns out this is because I have what’s considered an anxious/avoidant attachment style. This comes from earliest childhood when attachments with primary care givers are formed. Inconsistency from the primary caregiver can impact brain development and foster an insecure attachment.
In insecure or anxious attachment, a child will often express need for the caregiver but then not be able to make eye contact. The child will be upset by the absence of the caregiver, yet not be soothed when the caregiver returns. The child learns that while her needs will most times be met, there is great inconsistency in the process. This creates an anxious and fearful child. One who learns that comfort and love are conditional.

Bartholomew’s Two Dimensional Model of Attachment

This entire thought process came about because I saw an article Tuesday about unloved daughters attracting narcissists.

This article was total click-bait, but I was waiting at an appointment that was already running late and left my book at home, so I clicked it.
I mean, I knew I spent the first seventeen years of my adult life being married to a narcissist, but was it because I was unloved?

I thought about my mother.
(Let’s face it, my father was absentee and would rather smoke weed, snort coke, and party in discos than be a dad. And his narcissistic shenanigans didn’t really noticeably impact me until I was an adult.)
My mom was my primary care giver. My mom is the one who stuck it out and raised us. My mom is the one who made sacrifices so we could have, and do, and be more.

I have never once doubted that my mother loved me.
(Even the year of my fifteenth birthday when she signed a card ‘Mommy’ instead of the standard, ‘I love you, Mommy’. It was the only time there was proof of her withholding love because she was angry with me.)
Obviously, her actions weren’t always indicative of that love.
She was cruel in the things she said. She placed a great deal of responsibility on me at a young age. She always shut me down when I expressed my thoughts or creativity. She was critical and quick to strike. She had such unrealistic expectations of me that I was always falling short. My brother was the golden child and I was the responsible one.

I grew up knowing that my mother’s love was conditional. That if I pleased her, or met her expectations, I would be loved. I learned to over-function so I’d be sure to get some love even if I didn’t do everything “right” or “well enough”.
I learned that I was not to be loved simply because I’m me. I was to be loved for what I could do, how I could function.

In doing research on this topic to create better understanding in myself, I came across Peg Streep’s blog, knotted.
Um…DAMN!
This chick knows my soul.
She writes that the unloved child longs for specific things even as an adult.
The things she lists are as follows:

to feel safe
to be understood
to be accepted
to simply be
to belong
to be loved for who she is

This.
This is me in six little lines.

Is this why I love so fiercely?
Is it because I don’t exactly know what it feels like to be safe in love?

So it seems that because these patterns are set in childhood, however self-aware one becomes, they are extremely difficult to break. This is because brains are pattern-seeking. And once brain patterns are developed, they can be altered, but those created in earliest childhood will always remain.
These patterns are in my brain. This insecure and anxious attachment. Actively (albeit unconsciously) committing self-sabotage because those deepest patterns are where I lived for so long.

I sought similar situations because they were familiar. Because I understood how to function in them. Of course, I was unaware of this at the time.
I married a man who lead me to believe he wanted nothing more than to take good care of me and give me babies. He was stable and reliable and consistent. All the things I’d been searching for without really understanding it.
Only it was a ruse. He manipulated me from the beginning.
He belittled me the same way my mother had.
His passive aggression was the stuff of legend. Gaslighting was a thing I experienced before I ever knew there was a word for it. Manipulations so subtle that I didn’t even realize what was happening.
I suspected it wasn’t meant to be this way, but because it felt familiar I didn’t question it. I drank the kool aid we made and I even served it to other people.
I learned the hard way not to question what was going on. His rage was epic. His ability to twist my words made me question my sanity. I was suffering from insomnia and chronic migraine pain. I was weak and helpless.
I turned my focus to my girls. To love them so fully they’d never have to question it. To keep them safe always. To protect them from the way their father treated me.
I remember the exact moment I realized that I was not the crazy one. Yet, I stupidly tried to talk with him about it.

I functioned from a place of fear and anxiety. It negatively impacted my health. It negatively impacted my daughters.

All these years later, I’m only beginning to understand that I made the choices I did because I felt unloved as a child.
The guilt inside me is overwhelming. The powerful urge to deny this treatment. My initial instinct is to quickly defend my mother. She loved me. She did everything she could on her own. Blah blah blah. Saying these things out loud, writing them here, it feels like a betrayal of epic proportions.
Only, that’s just how it goes for women (and men) who grew up like me. We spend our entire lives protecting the ones who abused us. That word made my stomach turn. Abuse is a big, scary, bad word. And to outsiders, my childhood, and marriage to the former husband, never looked like abuse. And for most of my life it didn’t look like abuse to me. Only it is abuse. And it’s horrific.
An unloved daughter is trained not to talk about what she thinks or feels. Everyone around her quick to tell her why she’s wrong. Quick to tell her how ungrateful she is. Quick to blame her and be sympathetic to her abuser.

If we don’t talk about it we can’t heal. And healing is of the utmost importance. I am actively attempting to learn self-compassion. Not pity. But honest, healing, compassionate love for myself.

This discovery has had me questioning everything the last few days.
Did I do this to my girls? Are they damaged by me? Did I abuse them? Did I protect them enough from their father? Do they see him for who he really is? Did they know this about me innately, before I ever even had a clue?

Did I specifically choose YBW because he’s not like this? Did I choose him because I question his desire and commitment to build a life with me? Am I simply sabotaging us to create my self-fulfilling prophesy that I’m not special or worthy of anyone’s love?

I’ve sat with these feelings since about eight o’clock Tuesday morning. I’ve struggled to research and understand. I’ve struggled to process and write. And that’s saying a great deal as I’ve damaged the tendons in my thumb and cannot hold a pencil. That means I cannot journal this.

I’ve talked with Jessica at length. Against my better judgment, I even talked with YBW about how I’m thinking and feeling. With one teeny exception of cracking an inappropriate joke, he surprised me and was a kind, loving, and wonderful listener.
Without doubt, I’ll be having this conversation with my therapist next week.
I feel as though I should have it with my girls too. Because if I am either abusive, or simply crazy, they have a right to know why.

I feel like I’m betraying my mother by saying I’m an unloved daughter.
That feels absolutely wretched.
But you know what feels amazing?
Finally beginning to understand why I’m “like this”.
As Albus Dumbledore said,

“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.”

Dumbledore knew what was up.

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Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

inner Momma voice

I’ve written before about inner speech. I even took the time to kind of explain it for those of you that don’t really know much about brain development.
Inner speech is pretty much the most important thing any of us have. But, the importance comes down to the type of inner speech one has.
If you read the linked posts, you know I have critical inner speech. I had a mother who loved me but that didn’t always come across in the way she spoke to me. And those moments when I hear her in my brain, I am immediately a little girl again. Only I’ve spent a good bit of time actively learning new ways to use my inner voice. It’s a minefield up in that brain of mine…which probably isn’t good considering the pinball thoughts that tend to roll and crash around in there…but, with concentrated effort, I’m learning to hear kinder, much less critical thoughts.

Thing 2 was in crisis mode on Saturday. We texted a great deal and had a long conversation.
She sent this text after we talked.

My joy knew no bounds! Here inner speech was positive. It was kind. It was self-loving. And she knew it came from me!
In that moment I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that I had not ruined her!!
What a relief!

Now that’s not to say that when her inner speech is about chilling and breathing she doesn’t also hear things like, “Jesus Christ, Magdeline!” in a frustrated voice. I mean, I know I’m critical. I don’t honestly think I stood a chance not being…consider my own inner speech.
And while I’m sure my second daughter has some critical or even negative inner speech, it truly warms my heart that she has soothing and positive inner speech. That she can hear her Momma’s voice in her head and it’s kind and loving. That she can choose to use those words to take the best possible care of herself.

I’m going to call this a win for Thing 2.
You know, I also think I’m going to call this a parenting win!

Categories: love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

and she was

This is where I’m at in my head space today.
It’s a good place to be.

Please listen responsibly.

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my (love) cup runneth over

Captain and Tennille said, “Love will keep us together.”
Ann and Nancy Wilson asked, “What about love?”
The King was ‘a hunk of burning love’.
Bendan Benson is ‘forever in search of the alternative to love’.
Landon Pigg spent some time ‘falling in love in a coffee shop’.
David Cassidy said, “I think I love you.”
Barry White ‘can’t get enough of your love, babe’.
Billy Idol ‘rocked the cradle of love’.
Grand Funk Railroad was ‘hooked on love’.
Cole Porter said, “Let’s do it. Let’s fall in love.”
Led Zeppelin had a ‘whole lotta love’.

And so on and so on…

But(!!!!!!!!!!)
What about the most important love?
The love of self.

Y’all, I’m here to tell you…ain’t nobody gonna be able to love you the way you can love yourself.
It starts deep within you and bubbles up until your cup runneth over.

I encourage all y’all to swim in that ocean of self love till your fingers get all pruney. Then let it spill over those you love. Beau’s right. It starts with you.
The Beatles said, “All you need is love.”
And they weren’t lying.

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heal it

I’m in a strange place this morning. So many feels.
Feeling every feel with great acuity.
I find it overwhelming. But not in a bad way, exactly.

On Thing 2’s mix, there is a song called Heal It by a band called Dog is Dead. It’s hitting me hard this morning. I want to turn off her mix…but can’t bring myself to do it.

The chorus, “If you can’t break, then we can’t heal it.” feels particularly powerful. And I’m talking tear inducing powerful.
And I stop and ask myself aloud, “What is with you this morning?”
Because these tears seem to come from nowhere.
Only they come from everywhere.
Every single moment of my life when I couldn’t heal until I was fully broken comes rushing in.
Sometimes you must become absolutely powerless to gain the ability to move forward.
Feeling powerless is devastating. But feeling powerless to help those you love goes beyond that devastation. And when I think of being broken before being able to heal I consider moments or particular incidents in which the people I love most were breaking to the point of broken before the healing could begin.

I find it especially painful to know that I could not ease my own suffering or the suffering of those I love most during these breaking to broken times. The suffering eases when the healing begins. It’s the natural course of things.

This morning I’m feeling ‘rode hard and put up wet’. The weight of my short forty-six years feels like a long one hundred and forty-six years.
I feel all the moments I failed. As a daughter. As a wife. As a mother. As a human being.
But the most incredible thing about all these feelings, is that I also feel the ease of suffering that comes with healing. I feel the hope of what’s to come. I feel the triumphs and joys. I feel the pride and love of being a human being successful in life.

The tears are still welling up this morning. But I don’t ask myself about them. I accept them with love and grace and gratitude.

Here’s Dog is Dead with Heal It.
I’ve shared the lyrics below.
Please listen responsibly.

Come and meet me by the hotel
Yeah, you always lived a terrible life
And thorough the blisters and the heart swells
You always did whatever you liked
It’s a messy situation
No need to feel like you’re on the inside
And with a little conversation
What will take for us to talk for a while
It just takes a little time
When your body breaks on the inside
And we can’t heal it!
And we can’t heal it!
If you can’t break, then we can’t heal it
If you can’t break, then we can’t heal it
Come and see me like you always did
Come and see me when you’re dunking in time
And it’s a feeling that I know too well
Take a beating backing back in the fire
Merry-merry-round when the sun shine
Cause it only makes us sad when it’s burning their eyes
I won’t believe in…
I said won’t believe in ordeal sick in my mind
Which just takes a little time
When your money breaks on your side
And you can’t heal it, can’t heal it!
If you can’t break, then we can’t heal it
If you can’t break, then we can’t heal it
If you don’t feel right, never feel, never hide
Take a random chance, start another fight
And we froze so small, in your… see the world
Take another chance, make another…
..you die, and you don’t know why
Take another one, take another one!
When the men see the light
It’s a birthday light for another chance
Start another fight!
If you can’t break, then we can’t heal it
If you can’t break, then we can’t heal it

Categories: love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

it’s cool boy, real cool

Thing 2’s mix Cool Boy, Real Cool arrived Monday. I’ve been listening to it nonstop.

I’m amazed at how autobiographical it truly is. I can hear her in every single song. And even though there are definite moments of “f**k you for that”, there is also a great deal of hope.
I find my daughter’s method of self expression fascinating.

I’m currently obsessed with this song.
Here’s Bukowski by Modest Mouse.
Please listen responsibly.

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while my behavior is (probably) unreasonable, my motivation is not

Things have been tricky with YBW lately.
Tricky may not be the best word to describe the situation, but it’s the word I’m purposely choosing, and that means I’m hopeful.
Here’s the thing, it might be mostly me. I’m completely wrapped around the axle about feeling overwhelmed by the fact we still have kids at home.
I am acutely aware that I’m overreacting to this.
I’m letting fear and anxiety drive the bus.
I’m smarter than that.
I’m more mindful than that.
I’m more capable than that.
Yet here I am. Shrieking and flailing and foaming at the mouth at the man I love.

I’ve worked myself into a state of chaos that I cannot seem to break from.

While my behavior is indubitably irrational and unreasonable, I stand behind the feelings behind them.
Now, those feelings are quite possibly a jumbled hot mess, but I feel them just the same.

What it ultimately feels like to me is that I sacrificed everything in my life to come here and have my life revolve around YBW’s children.
I’m not exaggerating.
Here, life is focused around the boys.
You may find it interesting to know that I understand why it was that way for so long. What I don’t understand is why it’s still that way.

Here’s what I know. My husband and I love each other. And we’re committed to each other and our relationship. And that gives me hope.

Hope is a powerful ally. One for which I am grateful. For without hope, I would feel that we made the biggest mistake of our lives. But because I have hope, I know we didn’t.
At the moment, what I need more than hope is an end date. I need practical reassurance that my hope is well founded. That there will come a time in the not-so-distant future that the life I am creating with my husband will revolve around our relationship and not his children.
He told me once that he didn’t want to be a step-parent to my girls. Well, first of all, this was hurtful to hear, and secondly, this was obvious as hell when my daughter came to live here. And more hurtful that I can even express.
Yet here I am, living my life for his children.

In my vision, we are a little solar system. (Interplanet Janet, much?)
And in that solar system, YBW and I are a planet. Our four children are nearby moons. Only, unlike a “real” solar system the moons and planet can occasionally occupy the same physical space and be together.
In my heart of hearts, I don’t consider that unreasonable.
What hurts me so much, is that it seems to me that YBW does.

I don’t want to “get rid” of his children. I want them to follow the natural course of development and fly the nest.
I think this goes back to what I was musing over parents developing at a different pace than their children. And while I acutely understand the pain of it. I don’t believe following the natural course of development is unreasonable.
I can want it to be the way it was when it was ‘we three girls against the world’, but that’s not the natural course and it’s not fair to them, or to me.
YBW never had to make the choice to accept the discomfort of those feelings. It was, and remains, these three boys against the world.
Only here I sit, ‘against the world’ adjacent.
Who’s against the world with me? Not a damn body.

Here’s what I’d like…YBW realizing I’m on his side. That I can be part of his against the world with his kids. BUT the time for that is waning, that soon they’ll be on their own, with us as back up.
I’d like to experience the shift from three boys as a unit, to YBW and me as a unit.

We’re parents. We will always have the backs of our children. There is no doubt of that. But there comes a time when having their backs is less active than it once was. That life is more focused on each other and our place in the world and we know that we’ve got our eyes on the moons that are near us.

In Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Belle sang,

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere.”

Well, I want that too. I want that with YBW.
Truth is, ain’t nobody adventuring while the focus is on an adult male that chooses not to launch, and a nearly grown male that chooses not to be invested in his own life.
Sad truth is that because they’re not choosing, they’re missing out.
That actually makes me feel worse.
I want more for them.
Unselfishly.

I see my girls struggle in their lives, but they’re out there trying.
Thing 1 and Husband N haven’t any money, but they have tenacity and they have love. They have a plan and they’re making it work.
Thing 2 is stuck physically, but has decided not to let that stop her from making the best life she can. She’s working within those constraints to get her life together and make something of herself.
I have their backs, helping them when they ask for it.
I suffer discomfort at their struggles.
But I see them making the choice to live their lives.

Contrary to opinion, I love YBW’s boys a great deal. I want them to choose their own lives! I want them to try! I want them to be successful humans in this world.
I want YBW to experience the pride and joy I feel when this happens for his children.

I don’t share these comparisons to point fingers. I share them because I know what it feels like to be on both sides of the coin.
Just because I didn’t give birth to his children, doesn’t mean I don’t love them. Doesn’t mean I don’t want the best possible lives for them.

Yes, I want to be a unit of two.
That’s what you’re meant to do with grown-ass kids.
The thing that kills me is that honestly don’t know if that’s what YBW truly wants.
And I don’t know how much longer I’m supposed to silently wait and see. All these thoughts and feelings I have can no longer be contained! In my trying to be kind, or respectful, and say nothing, I’ve created a toxic pit inside me. I much less successful at controlling it. I’m much less concerned about being kind to others than I am in being kind to myself.
I shouldn’t be silent when I’m unsatisfied.
Neither should I lose my shit completely.
It’s a delicate balance.
I’m not super successful at mastering it.

I refuse to believe that wanting what I want is unreasonable.
Though, I am aware that I am inclined to present it in a way that probably is.
I’m being mindful.
I’m working at it.

I’m tired of the same old conversation. Eight years later and I’m still wondering if he truly wants a life with just me.
Do I just need to get over myself?
I have no earthly idea.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Little D’s pumpkins

Little D came to spend the night Saturday!
He is currently obsessed with all things Halloween. I’ve decorated the house for fall, and he was actively trying to help me bring out the Halloween decorations too. After a long-winded explanation of the difference between meteorological fall and the autumnal equinox, and how Halloween stuff couldn’t come out till October, Little D was looking at me like, WTF? I just want to get out the jack-o-lanterns! YBW saved the day when he said, Remember, you can’t decorate for Halloween till after your dad’s birthday. (October 2)
Little D looked at YBW and nodded.
Dude was sad as hell looking.
So I told him he could come back over after his dad’s birthday and help me decorate for Halloween.

He decided he wanted to draw some pumpkin pictures, so we got out the crayons and paper.

This is a “kitty pumpkin” because it has a cat face. It’s also got wings so it’s a flying pumpkin.
I dunno, I’m just repeating what I was told.


I drew this one and then he embellished it with a brick wall and teeth and nose for the big pumpkin. He also mimicked the pinks and purples of the sky out the window. Then with great purpose added a crescent moon.


Here you see pumpkins and a witch’s broom sweeping fall leaves, also some ghosts saying “ooooo” cause “it’s scary like that”.

Next we decided to make scarecrows.

I’ll leave it up to y’all to decide which of us drew which one.

We watched Disney’s Robin Hood snuggled up on the sofa with a big bowl of popcorn before I read him a story and tucked him into bed.
Sunday morning we made bacon and had a little facetime chat with Thing 2. YBW got up and made the french toast and it wasn’t longer before Little D was on his way.
That kid. I love him so.
He said he’s going to be a bat for Halloween…but he’s worried about red eyes. He had a teeny little ramble about my daddy going to paint my eyes…I don’t want paint in my eyes…it hurts…then I have to wash my eyes…
He looked at me with a truly bewildered look on his face.
I reassured him that his daddy wouldn’t hurt his eyes, and he would be a great bat, even if he had his regular eyes instead of red ones.
He smiled with his entire being and wrapped his arms around my neck. “You are awesome!”

Yeah I am, Little D. And so are you!

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

‘play(ing) it cool’ with music

I had an interesting conversation with Thing 2 Friday morning.
She shared with me that she’s working on a music mix.
(Like momma like daughter, right?)
She shared that she’s considering calling it ‘Play it Cool, Boy’ or ‘Cool, Boy, Real Cool’

Thing 2’s friend Anna is the one that nearly died wrecking Thing 2’s car. Thing 2 has been her primary caregiver and it’s finally taken it’s toll on her. The love is there, but I think she’s having a hard time locating it in the middle of all the conflicted feelings.
Conflicted feelings about her father are…well, ongoing…

I loved that she writes of easing herself. That’s a phrase we use a great deal.
She’s being mindful of how the music impacts her mood, while saying what she needs to say.

I received this pic via snapchat yesterday morning.

The sharing of music is a powerfully intimate expression of self. A mixtape is a mini time capsule. To listen to it is to transport you to the moment in which it was created. You put yourself in that moment and feel all those same feelings again. Thinking those same thoughts. Of course listening to it later on you pick out the flaws, you think oh, I could have done such and such instead…but that’s where you are now. The mix is the representation of where you were then. I believe that must be honored.

William Congreve wrote:

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.”

Dude knew what was up.

Thing 2 referred to the half bottle mix. I made this compilation in the winter of 2008.
I’d like to share it now with y’all.
Half Bottle of Champagne Mix.
Please listen responsibly.

Kings of Leon
Red Morning Light

Ghost of the Robot
Dangerous

Ray Davies
All She Wrote

I Nine
Same in Any Language

Corinne Bailey Rae
I’d Like To

Nick Drake
One of These Things First

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Rich Woman

Rufus Wainwright
Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk

Eric Clapton
Little Wing

The Kinks
Days

The Libertines
Music When the Lights Go Out

The Saw Doctors
Red Cortina

British Sea Power
Carrion

James Marsters
No Promises

Rooney
Calling the World

Something Happens
Momentary Thing

Spacehog
In the Meantime

The Hombres
Let it Out (Let it All Hang Out)

Dr John
Right Place Wrong Time

Sex Pistols
Anarchy in the UK

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Jackson Square ~ Mason Jennings

The first time I heard this song was in the quiet of a springtime afternoon via earbuds. I was consumed by it’s haunting beauty.
It’s gray here this morning and I feel this song fits the feel as I wait for the sun to break through the heavy clouds.

Please listen responsibly.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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