Posts Tagged With: emotional baggage

my mom

Today is the fifth anniversary of the day Mommie died. I’ve been thinking of her so much lately. I miss her in ways that sneak up on me and hit me upside the head like a baseball bat. I’m momentarily stunned and then I feel sad. Or I laugh uncontrollably. Or I get a warm fuzzy feeling. Or I get so angry I grunt and stamp my foot. I firmly believe that all daughters feel these things about their mothers.

I’ve written about my mom before, But I’m not going to talk about our unpacked baggage, or our love of robin birds, or the gift of silly memories. I’m just going to share my mom.

I love this photo!
This is my mom when she was sassy AF. I think she’s so beautiful. This photo was taken in the mid 1960’s. I think my mom stopped being sassy when her mother died. She looks different in any photo taken after 1969, like something’s just a bit off…or something. Now, this is just my theory…but I do know that death of her mother changed her greatly.
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This was taken at our house on Barton Street in Arlington. I suspect my dad took it. It was before I was living in that house, but I don’t know how long after they were married this was taken. Some time in 1970.
I think she’s beautiful in this photo too, but she looks different.
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This photo was taken in April of 1971. The month before I was born. I think she looks tired. But I’ve been that far along in a pregnancy twice in my life and I remember feeling tired.
I’m so glad that the middle part went away for a long time…does it really look good on anyone?
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So, my parents were pretty freaking strange. And quite possibly they shouldn’t have been allowed to bring me home from the hospital. I’m the weird little alien looking baby. My mother is holding me inside my father’s boot (he was a motorcycle cop) as he takes the photograph.
Obviously, I wasn’t a very cute baby…though in my defense, I’m kind of crammed into a big leather boot. That makes for some uncomfortable faces. Summertime 1971.
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I went through years and years of photographs trying to find some of me with my mom. There are tons of photos of me with my dad (before he left) and even more of me with Grandaddy. But few with my mom. She was always behind the camera.
Being behind the lens is something that must run in our blood. I’m a photographer. Thing 2 is a photographer. Thing 1 is kind of a photographer too. Luckily, there are other people with cameras who’ve taken photos of me with my girls, even though I’m almost always behind the lens of my camera.

This is Grandaddy and Mommie and me. I’m not sure why Mommie and I are dressed up and Grandaddy is wearing a sweatshirt. Maybe we girls were going somewhere just the two of us? I don’t know.
I was probably in sixth grade so that would make it 1982…maybe?
(note my awful middle part)
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I did find this one of us working a WETA telethon. (taken before we were actually on the air) I had this mad skill of sticking out my tongue just as the shutter clicked. And our hair is really terrible. This was the next year or so. My mom hated my long hair and cut it all off one afternoon under the guise of giving me a “trim”. Circa 1983?
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This one was taken in November of 2000 by Thing 1. We went to see “Grandmommy” for Thanksgiving. This photo was taken sixteen years ago this same month. I love this photo because we look happy to be together. I recently removed it from the album and put it in a frame.
Positive reinforcement of love.
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Five years ago this day, my mother’s life ended. She died the Monday before Thanksgiving. The girls and I drove down to see her body (before it was cremated) on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.
The little bit of my mother’s ashes that belong to me are in a tiny enamel heart shaped container.
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Sometimes I take it out of the blue velvet box and hold it in my hand. Sometimes I hold that heart to my own heart and imagine that we can feel each other’s love.

A small stuffed robin bird sits atop the blue velvet box. The blue velvet is on a small cedar box filled with memories. The small cedar box is on my bookshelf below my collection of journals. This is the side of the shelves that face my work tables and comfy reading chair. So I can see it whenever I want.
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In some ways, five years is the blink of an eye. In others, it’s a long, dark eternity.
I’ll always have a complicated relationship with my mother. It wasn’t sorted before she died, but that’s because of who she was. And I guess that’s OK too.
I know she loved me. I know I loved her.

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

*poof* I had an epiphany

I had an epiphany as I journaled one night last week. (perhaps it’s been a couple weeks now)
I journaled in response to a suggestion that I’m taken for granted by some of the people in my life.

I questioned if I could love others without sacrificing myself. I questioned why I can’t seem to say no. I questioned why I feel compelled to always do what’s expected of me, even if it’s unrealistic.
I mused that it comes from being a little girl and feeling like I had to work hard to be loved. That if I was a “good girl” and did what I was “supposed” to do, then I was loved. If I wasn’t good or didn’t do what was expected of me, love was withheld from me.
And *poof* the epiphany occurred.

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I over-function to be loved.

I’m a chronic over-functioner.

Will Meek PhD describes over-functioners in this way:

Over-functioners (OFs) are usually seen as people who “have it together”, are detail oriented, organized, and reliable, and are typically viewed as being reliable workers, partners, and parents.

Classic characteristics of over-functioning include being overly focused on another person’s problems or life situation. Offering frequent advice or help to the other person. Feeling anger when help is not “appreciated” or the under-functioner (UF) doesn’t change. And frequently feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and neglecting self-care. Over-functioning can be seen as a type of “enabling”, even though the intent is the opposite.

That explains how I get myself into these situations where I’m taking care of everyone else and not myself. How I’ll make sure everyone’s everything is done, or their needs are met before I even begin to consider my own. And most of the time, I’m too worn out to consider my own needs, therefore I neglect them.
Turns out the only good thing about getting sick with the brain edema is that I was forced to consider my own needs first. But since I’ve been “well enough” I’m going back into my old patterns. And especially while Thing 2 was here.

Becoming aware of why I over-function is HUGE! If I know why I do it, perhaps I’ll be able to stop doing it. Ah, but then guilt and fear show up and panic me. If I don’t do (whatever) for (whomever) I’m not a good (whatever). And that means I’m not going to be loved.

Does that seem odd to you?
Will my doing (whatever) for the people in my life make them love me more than if I don’t do it?
Logic would suggest the answer is no.
But every fiber of my being is screaming yes!

This is something I will work hard to understand and change.
It’ll be better for me, and for the people in my life.

I must learn to say no in a kind and respectful way.
I must learn to understand that love isn’t based on what I do for others.
I must learn that it’s perfectly acceptable to put myself first.

I’m not loved because I do what’s expected of me.
I’m not loved because I’m a “good girl”.
I am loved because I am me.
Just me.
Just being me is enough to be loved.
I must never forget that.

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

I probably get more worked up than necessary…

I may have mentioned once or twice that I don’t “super love” Thanksgiving.
Alas, that day is upon us again so here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to lay it all down and walk away.

I don’t want to do what’s “required” of me today.
That would be riding in the car with YBW to get his mom and go over his brother’s house to eat the Thanksgiving meal.
Perhaps it’s because I don’t have any family. Perhaps it’s because I’ve already lived through the “this could be my mother’s last (insert holiday/milestone here) with the former husband.
I very much understand combining families means the combining of rituals. But my hope was that in creating a new family, there would be room for new rituals. This would mean a mixture of the two.
Of course I understand wanting to celebrate with your family. YBW’s mother is eighty-five years old, how many more holidays/milestones could she possibly have?
The other side of that coin is that he’s had forty-four years of celebrating with her.

He reads my words, so there will totally be a conversation about this later…but that’s not the point.

Yesterday we were invited to a holiday party at friend’s of his. This is an annual event that’s been going on for more years than I actually know. He loves this particular party and looks forward to it every year. When we were apart, he would see if I could be here the weekend of the party, which never worked most often because one of the Things would have a school commitment the same weekend. So when I finally moved here he was so excited to take me to this party! It has a gift exchange, but the thing about it is that it’s horrible gifts nobody wants. I’m not sure I understand the wasting of money like that. On something that is either going to be trashed or rewrapped for return to the exchange the following year. (Of course, I’ve never had disposable income. Everything purchased at the holidays is always well thought out and specifically for someone who needs or wants it.)
Anyway, I agreed to go even though I was so anxious about being in a room full of people when I only knew four of them. What he doesn’t understand is that anxiety I have. Being social with people I don’t know is physically painful for me. So off we go, with the caveat that I won’t participate in the gift exchange, I chose to observe, it being my first year and all.
Well, when it comes time to draw numbers, I politely decline and then YBW’s sister in law pipes up with something about how they brought an extra gift and I can use it. I thank her and decline once more. Then YBW turns and tries to convince me that it’s fun and I should participate.
That was the moment I was officially done.
When I said that yesterday, I had barely taken a breath to continue talking when he apologized.
That wasn’t the point. I don’t want you apology a year later. I want you to listen to how I feel.
He reasoned that if I had done something that hurt him I would apologize.
Of course I would. But this wasn’t the time! I was trying to express myself.
I believe he apologizes to make himself feel better. I believe this is unintentional. I don’t think he is even aware…

I swear to you there is not only a point, but also a connection…

YBW asks me if I want to go to this party. I say no, but I’ll go if you want to.
Well this turns into a very uncomfortable conversation in the car.

What we have here, y’all, is a failure to communicate.

So I reply that he loves this party, he’s excited to go and because I love him and know how excited he is I’m ready to go.
But then he says he thinks he’s “dragging me against my will” because I said I didn’t want to go.
(Ah, the dreaded catch 22.)
He doesn’t like it when I defer to him when he asks a question. e.g.: If I had said: I’ll go if you want to go. when he asked me if I wanted to go to the party then I’m not telling him what I really think/want. But when I answer truthfully to the question: Do you want to go? and the answer is: No I don’t. He struggles with that.
Which has to do with him knowing I’ve spent my whole life doing what everyone else wanted so I shouldn’t have to do this if I don’t want to.
And that is kind.

But what really happened when he heard me say no was he thought it would be a case of he could go and I would respectfully decline and not go.
(This is where my actual point happens. And hopefully you’ll see the connection.)
He didn’t want any part of that because “he went to too many parties without his wife” and that’s not something he’s willing to do.
You see, the mad alcoholic second wife, never did anything with him as a couple.

Ah ha! Now we’re getting somewhere!
He is unwilling to go without me because he doesn’t want to feel like that anymore.
OK. So why when I say: I’m happy to go with you. does he not hear that? Well that’s because I told him I didn’t want to go.

I probably got way more worked up about this than was necessary…

He takes the “I can’t say anything right” stance. And I counter with “No, I can’t say anything right.”
But neither is true.
I explained to him that he doesn’t like if I defer when he asks a question so I answered it truthfully. He didn’t like the answer. So then it occurs to him that he should ask a different question. Instead of do you want to go? he asks: Are you willing to go.
Of course I’m willing to go. I love you and you want to do this therefore I’m going to do it with you.

Nothing and I mean nothing gets resolved in the car ride. How very us.

Anyway…I said there was a point and a connection…I just had to go all the way round Robin Hood’s barn to get there.

I said: I’ve already lived through the whole “this could be my mother’s last…”
This isn’t his fault but he must pay the price.
He said: I went to too many parties without my wife…
This isn’t my fault but I must pay the price.

We carry our baggage with us no matter how hard we try.
So I’ll go to Thanksgiving with his family. Perhaps there will come a time when we create our own rituals…

He switches holidays with his Things mother. So every other year it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas. Even twenty-two year old Thing C.
I don’t have that luxury.
Thing 1 is about to move into her own home with her fiance N. I would like to consider celebrating holidays with her at some point. Especially because within the next few years, I’ll have a grandbaby.
This will force new rituals. And they will either mean us celebrating holidays separately with our own children or we will have to figure out how to do it together.

All this drama simply to overeat?…why don’t I like Thanksgiving again?

Two days ago was the one month anniversary of us being married. I glanced as I walked past him and was filled with so much love. I stopped and told him I was so happy I was married to him.
Yesterday not so much. My instinct to run nearly overpowered me. I seriously considered getting out of the car at a traffic light. But I didn’t. I tried to be a grown up and discuss the madness.

Here’s what sucks.
He’s going to read this and this is what I fear he’ll take from it.
1. I don’t like his family.
2. I don’t like his friends.
He hears what has been conditioned to hear, not what I say.
I can’t fix that.

I also do what I’ve been conditioned to do.
I defer. Because when I say or do what I really want, it bites me in the ass. I don’t blame him for that. It simply is. It was always thus.

What I struggle with is where to go from here.
I don’t feel like things get resolved. I don’t know how to make that happen, so I beat things into the ground. That ain’t fun for anyone.

Perhaps I should learn to like Thanksgiving. Maybe there would be less drama if I wasn’t such a bitch about it.
Poor YBW, he didn’t believe that I was such a raging bitch. That I’m a hot hot mess. I guess I didn’t believe he was a hot hot mess either…
Love is blind right?
I’m thankful that YBW is part of my world. However jacked up that world is, we’re in it together.

The parade is on and I’m tired of being a whiny crybaby so I’m going to watch and wait for Santa to show up.
Then Thanksgiving is over and we’re on to Christmas.
I’m holding out for new rituals…

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

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