Posts Tagged With: healing

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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

inexhaustible love

I wrote about a precious young man I love in loving yourself.
I found out this week that he has testicular cancer.
He is twenty-one years old.
He’s had the tumor and one testicle removed but the cancer spread to one (and only one) of his lymph nodes near his right kidney.
He will start chemotherapy on Monday.

When his mom told me she asked that I not tell the girls, that he would want to do that in his own time. Today she asked me to share the news with them, he mustn’t have wanted to go over it again and again.

Thing 1, who calls him her brother, took the news better than I could have hoped. I expected her to fall apart. She didn’t. She held it together, asked intelligent questions, expressed her love for him, his family and for me. I apologized for being the bearer of bad news. She told me she was glad it was me, that I always give it to her straight, answer all her questions, and do it all with so much love.
I sent her a text a couple hours later to see how she was holding up. She already spoke with his boyfriend and was actually talking with him at the time.
She has enough stubborn love to keep him healthy by sheer force of her will.

Thing 2 listened and was uncharacteristically quiet. She asked about his siblings and boyfriend. We talked about him losing his beautiful hair but she decided he’s going to rock the bald! Then she joked about medical marijuana. She chastised herself for cracking wise. But in our family, we laugh at all things, good and bad. It’s a way to keep everything in perspective.
I told her the high percentage rate of curability and that I honestly believed he would be cancer free after his chemo. She was relieved, explaining that she was using my belief as her barometer of concern. She told me she’s learned that I know exactly how much to worry or be hopeful about every situation and that she always takes her cue from me.
However much she thinks she ‘hates people’, she’s one of the most positive human beings and he will be basking in everything she can send to him.

My heart aches for my dear, dear friend and her husband. The fear they must be experiencing. She’s so brave. She loves her kids with such ferocity. But this isn’t something she can sort. She has to wait while God and modern medicine sort it.
Being a parent is simultaneously the most wonderful and horrifically difficult experience. This is one of those times difficult takes center stage. But wonderful waits in the wings in the form of family and friends lifting each other up with love and light.

My love for this young man is inexhaustible.
I know love doesn’t really conquer all. But in this case, I’m going to believe that tremendous amounts of love and a little bit of chemo will kick cancer’s ass!

Categories: love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

we cannot function from a place of fear

I have to admit I’m uncomfortable with what I’m seeing on social media after the events in Paris Friday night. I know that people honestly believe they’re being helpful and supportive, but I can’t see how painting over your facebook photo with the French flag makes a real difference. The desire to rally around the people of France is real and natural, but does it need a hashtag?
People lost their lives. Their families are grieving. A nation, the entire world grieves with them.
I absolutely want the ability to wrap my arms around all the people of the world to help them feel safe. I can’t do that.
Perhaps that’s what the flag overlay is about, feeling like you’re helping when you can’t actually help.
I suspect a percentage of those people have done it just because it’s in vogue. The French people can’t see their flag superimposed over all these photos. Only the friends and followers can see. This is why I question it.
It feels so politicized to me.
I see people talking about hanging a “closed” sign on the doors of the US. They want the people of Europe to do the same. Lock out anyone who might bring terror.
Are not the people fleeing their homes and country running from the threat of terror?

I sound like I’m judging. I’m not.
I’m uncomfortable because it almost feels more like an agenda than solidarité.

I have not changed my facebook profile photo and I won’t. I have not gotten on a soapbox. But that doesn’t mean I’m not frightened and horrified by what’s happening in the world. It doesn’t mean that I’m not supportive of the people of France, or the people of Lebanon. It doesn’t mean that I’m not supportive of the Kenyan students.
It means I don’t know how my support can and will manifest itself.
I choose not to speak about what I don’t know, what I struggle to understand.

I don’t understand this desire to kill innocent people to create chaos and fear. How does belief in God warrant that kind of action? What kind of God wants that?

I am blessed to know that the people I love are safe. My heart aches for those who cannot say the same.
I’m staying quiet because I don’t understand.
My quiet does not reflect my lack of concern, love, or desire for peace.
I send love and light into the world trusting that it will grow.
I don’t need a flag for that.

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

Just you wait, Henry Higgins. Just you wait.

I haven’t written anything in a while. I just haven’t been feeling well…or feeling like writing. It’s not an excuse…it just is.
Monday starts my last two weeks in my classroom. While I’m sad to say goodbye to my babies, I’ve never been happier to leave a job in my life. And that’s saying something. I used to run the nursing department of a home health care company. Every day on the way to work I would fantasize about being in an accident. Not enough to be hurt, enough to not make it to work.
It’s not the kids, I adore them. Even the ones I don’t actually like. It’s the way the administrators (None of which have any early childhood experience.) never bother to ask the most important question.
What’s best for children?

I ask that question every single day. And I do my damnedest to answer it.

It disgusts me that they are treated like chattel with dollar signs on their chests. Is that what’s best for children?
If parents knew how decisions regarding their children’s care and education were being arbitrarily decided would that be acceptable?
But some parents don’t care. Their careers, their lives are more important to them and they’re content to believe the hype as long as someone looks after their children all day long.

No one gives a damn about emergent curriculum. Or learning through play. Or brain development.
Is that what’s best for children?

I’ve never been truly satisfied at this school. I’ve had moments of great joy. But I’ve always known it fit me ill.
It’s made me question my passion for early childhood education. It’s made me question my love for young children. I’ve been wrestling with “hanging up my spurs” for quite some time. It fascinates me that something beyond my control made the decision for me. Is the stress from this job really creating the sickness in my brain?

Perhaps I’m just a whiny crybaby? Perhaps I’m just lazy? Perhaps I simply don’t want to have to go to work everyday?
I’ve asked myself these questions. With the exception of the first one, the answer is no. (The answer to the first question is: occasionally.)

It’s occurring to me as I write this that as bad as that other job was, this one goes against my personal beliefs. That just might be why it feels so much worse. I care so passionately about young children and their beginning education that I absolutely cannot participate in the degradation of the most important time in a person’s life.
From zero to five years is when everything we need for our entire lives starts being built.

I was discussing with a couple we know, the brain situation and leaving my job under medical advice. The husband (Who is an engineer.) said something to the effect of: But all jobs are stressful. The wife (Who is a teacher at an elementary school.) replied something to the effect of: Teaching is so stressful. It’s not like other jobs. You can turn your brain off occasionally while you’re working. But we never can.
I agreed and said: I am almost constantly engaged with my kids. My brain works even harder than my body does. When a child comes to me with a question or is excited about an accomplishment, I have to be ready to go! I have to give that child my undivided attention while being completely aware of the others.

Most people have no real understanding of what early childhood educators do. It’s not quantifiable but it lays the foundation for every single moment of learning.

I’m going to step down off my soapbox.
I’m going to enjoy the last two weeks with my babies before they move into the “junior kindergarten program”.
I’m going to walk away with my head held high.

It occurs to me in this moment that I haven’t been writing because I was filled with all this poison. It was making me fell unwell. It was making me cranky.
Well, I’ve just spewed the poison it onto this page and I actually feel a great deal better.

Am I crazy?
Am I cutting off my nose to spite my face?
Are personal beliefs and principles so sacred that to go against them makes one ill?
Don’t we skew our principles a teeny bit just to make it through each day?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. Well, I’m pretty sure I’m not crazy…

I am going to take time in September and October to heal my brain. (I’m extremely stubborn so I plan to do that through the sheer force of my will.) I’ll take that time to finish wedding planning. I’ll spend a good deal of that time with my own precious Thing 2.
And when YBW and I come home from our honeymoon, I’ll find a new job. One that suits me and that I suit.

I’m reminded a little bit of Eliza Doolittle: Just you wait ‘enry ‘iggins. Just you wait.
My brain is Professor Higgins. Life is Professor Higgins. And just like Eliza Doolittle, I plan to show my brain and the world what’s up!

Categories: education, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

cheer up cheerily

It has been a…what’s the word…curious(?) couple of weeks. I have been completely overworked at school, and editing that book, as well as finishing up my school term, not to mention still trying to process my personal feelings about my little friend whose mother died.
But(!) the curiousness is actually the best part!

nest

Robin birds in the spring are a SUPER big deal for me, (Gee, I can’t imagine why.) but since my mom died, I’ve not seen them anywhere near as frequently or in as great of numbers as it seems I always have in the past….and if I have seen one, I’ve been with either Thing 2 or YBW only.
A part of me was relieved I wasn’t seeing them in great big amounts because it was painful, made me miss my Mommie, but a part of me was disappointed, because it is one of my favorite “rites of Spring”. My theory was “God” (by whatever gender or name) kind of knew I wasn’t ready, that was why the sightings were so few and far between, or I was with those particular people.
This year however, I have seen more robin birds than I have been able to count! They’re EVERYWHERE! Even with all this snow, they’re flying and chirping and skibbling all around on the lawns. My joy is immense at hearing their “cheerily cheer up cheer up cheerily”!
It must be time. Either I’m finally healing on own, or Mommie is ‘up there’ pulling strings to make me heal (Of course she would still be trying to boss me around.)

The second ‘wonderful’ aspect of the curious is YBW. I had a total crap day yesterday and he just happened to be home when I came home for lunch, I honestly can’t remember the last time I was that happy to see anyone. He hugged me and I just breathed in his scent and felt so much better straightaway …I was instantly safe and comforted and so very grateful. I was just enough to bolster me to get through the rest of my day.

I went to see the holistic doc and he was worried about my appearance, when I told him I was just worn out, he was worried it was the book. No, my job…the strangest thing…he offered me a job right on the spot! I thought and thought about it…made the pro and con list in my head, talked with Sundance and YBW about it then went to school this morning and met with my director (For three hours!) discussed where my ‘heart is’, made plans for positive changes. I walked into her office completely devoid of hope and walked out three hours later quite full.
Got an email with a new chapter for the book with a note asking me to let him know about the position. I’m going to decline…I know how to run the office because I did it for my doctor before I came here, and it is very seductive to receive all that free healthcare, and there are so many positives, but there are negatives, too…but ultimately, it isn’t where my heart is.
If I am going to leave my school I need to do it in a mindful way, not a reactionary way. I’m not ready yet, my time there isn’t finished.

The robin birds are singing just for me, “cheer up cheerily”.

Oh! P.S. YBW and I are going to the beach the day after tomorrow! Hello, Jewish Mother for breakfast! Yay for YBW and yay for the mini break!

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

weekend at the beach?

I’m ready for a mini-break.
Only a weekend, doesn’t even have to be a long weekend…just a few days away. I’m leaning towards the beach. I love the beach when it’s cold I love getting to do all the fun beachy stuff without the myriad people all up in it.
So the question becomes which beach. Ideally I’d head to Duck, but that’s a bit of a schlep for a simple weekend, VA beach has The Jewish Mother, and is close enough to be a short weekend jaunt. Or I could head north to Delaware or Maryland.
Honestly, I don’t care where the mini-break is…I just want to get out of this place for a little while…away from school and home and the responsibilities. I want to be quiet, but not at home.

I’ve been quiet since the sad news last week, I’m not sure YBW knows quite what to do about me. He keeps asking if I’m OK. Yeah, I’m OK. I mean, seriously, this puts everything into perspective, right? But I’m quiet. And I’ve learned that when I’m quiet, he’s quiet…withdrawn quiet. (I don’t think that’s his intention, I think it’s how it feels to me…I think he doesn’t know how to help so he’s respecting the quiet, but it makes me feels icky.)
I don’t know how I’m processing what’s going on with people I care about, I mean I cried because I returned a pillow to Pier 1 on Sunday.

I was looking for a project around the house, not one that’s too big, but something I can control and execute, to feel as though there is order. I am a great admirer of order. The pillow was to be part of that project, and though I absolutely adored the pillow, it was not working so I returned it. Then I was left feeling as though I have no purpose. So I can move on to another project idea or I can stop and take a great big breath.

Mini-break.
Makes sense to me, examine how I’m processing all that I’ve experienced in the last week without redirecting it into something I can control. (Though I really do want to paint some things around the house.) A couple of days at the beach, walking the sand, doing beachy things, being quiet away from the places I have responsibility. As I’m writing this I’m considering whether or not I want to take this time alone or with YBW…I honestly don’t want to be alone, I just want to be quiet, until I’m ready to talk. I want to feel cared for and coddled without compromising my dignity (or his) I want to be in the moment together.

He’ll be home soon and when he gets here I’m going to see if I can interest him in a beach weekend.

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