Posts Tagged With: mother

my defining moment as a frog in cold water

Acute stress feels like it will crush you where you stand.
I promise you it won’t. Your fight or flight instinct will kick in and save you. Acute stress feels overwhelming and most of us would do anything to get away from it. But, acute stress won’t kill, no matter how much you believe it might.
Chronic stress is what will kill you.
Chronic stress is like putting a frog in a pot of cold water and then slowly turning up the heat. The frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until it’s already boiling! That’s when one of two things happens. Fight or flight kicks in to save you, or you just die.

I’m an expert in chronic stress. I’m that frog in the pot of water. I was lucky enough that my instinct for flight is so strong. It saved my life.
I spent seventeen years with a man who emotionally abused me.
His sabotage so subtle, his manipulation so nuanced, it was poetry of pure unadulterated evil. He brought passive aggression to new and frightening depths. For the most part I was unaware on a conscious level. I went about my daily life feeling anxious without actually realizing it.
Sometimes I would wonder…Why did I require so much sleep? Why did I turn so much of my focus to my children? Why did I feel nauseous when he would come home? But never for long because there would be some sudden kindness and I would smile and believe him when he told me everything was lovely.

But on some level, I did know what was going on. I did know that something was amiss. I focused on my children to be a buffer between him and them so he couldn’t treat them the way he treated me. I presented the picture of the perfect little family to the rest of the world so no one would realize that he was not what he seemed.
I was scared of him. And scared isn’t a big enough word, but I’m honestly too lazy to thesaurus right now. He frightened every fiber of my being. Somehow I knew he’d never lay hands on me. I wasn’t worried about that. I didn’t realize the internal wounds could occasionally be worse.

He used to tell me that I was crazy. That I was certifiable. That they would put me in a straight jacket in the padded cell and that was where I belonged. He told me no judge in his right mind would give the girls to me. I had nothing and I was crazy. He told me that he would take the girls and I would never see them again.
I would have done and would still do anything for my girls. So I stayed with this man.
He read my journals. He read my email.
He even tried to sabotage my friendships…he had to do that carefully because he didn’t want to show his true colors. I was lucky that most of my friendships were strong enough to withstand his tricks.

I was trapped in a hell I helped create.
Every single day of my life I was scared.
Every single day of my life I was anxious.
Every single day of my life I was angry.
I was miserable. My girls were miserable. I was failing at being a mother. I was failing at being a person.
I was the frog in the pot of water suddenly aware that I was boiling!

This was the defining moment.
Would I die in that pot of boiling water?
No! I would save my own life!

The chronic stress was literally killing me. I was dying. I had to do something to preserve my own life.
I told him that I was done. I told him that I was empty and dead inside. I told him that I had nothing left to give. I told him I was leaving because I knew he would never leave.
When I finally left, he acted as though he was surprised. As though I’d never expressed any of my concerns. I didn’t even argue. I just walked away.
That’s when he turned on my girls. He manipulated them. He used them as weapons to hurt me.
That’s the only thing I regret about leaving him…what he did to my babies. You want to hurt me? Come at me directly.
My poor babies had to suffer for me to live.
That doesn’t seem right. But it was how it was.
A dying person is a desperate person.
I had to save my own life.
They’ve moved through that part of their lives. Will they ever heal? I honestly don’t know.
I know the only one who came out unscathed was their father. He has no clue what he’s done…or he doesn’t care. How’s that for crazy?

I was told by friends and family that I was strong. That I was brave. I felt neither. I felt as frightened as I’d ever been. I did what I had to do to stay alive.
It was the hardest thing I ever did, saving my own life. I only wish I’d been strong enough to do it sooner. Of course, the frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until the water comes to a boil…

I’m writing about this because of a conversation I had with my friend Nora last night, and a conversation I had with my sister in law today. Nora and I talked of relationships and life and celebs and sports stars we’d like to have our way with. We talked of previous lives and choices we make. We discussed “winning” at divorce. (When your life is better than it was before AND better than your ex’s current life.) We talked about being mothers. We ate pasta and drank a goodly bit of wine. We were “just girls” together, but we talked of important topics.
She’s actually the one who verbalized the frog in water analogy.

This afternoon I had a distressing conversation with my sister in law about her relationship with her children’s father. Apparently their state of chronic stress has escalated to acute and he’s announced he’s leaving. Knowing him as long as I have, I think he’s having a bit of a temper tantrum and it will blow over and they’ll go back to their life of chronic stress.
It is killing my sister in law. Now, there is a fairly decent amount of her stress that has little or nothing to do with him. She has some of her own shit to sort.
I told I knew what she was capable of. I suggested she tap into that deeply rooted power and make a better life for herself.
She expressed her fear.
Fear can ride shotgun, get it out of the driver’s seat. Fear will never drive me again. But it sure as hell likes to go along for the ride. I was scared half to death to make that huge change. Especially considering what impact it had on my children.
She’s not ready to do that hard work. She will eventually have to decide to save her own life or she will die.

I can’t run other people’s lives.
Some days I can barely run my own life. Seems that way lately.
I have stress in my life. But it’s acute stress. It causes an immediate reaction. And though my flight instinct is the strongest, I’m learning to fight. Fight the good fight. Fight for what’s right.

I fought the good fight by flying all those years ago. The fight to save my life. Because I tell you, I was dying. Not metaphorically dying. Actually. Physically. Emotionally. I was actively dying.
I learned the most important lesson about myself by saving my own life.
I learned that I can do anything.

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Categories: divorce, loss, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

soulmates

Thing 2 and I were trading Arrested Development quips back and forth via text. In response to what I’d just sent her she wrote: I do that ALL the time and nobody gets it :/
I wrote: You and I need to run away together and never look back.
Thing 2: Awh, Momma! ❤
Me: It might be crazy, but sometimes I think you’re the only person that really understands me.
Thing 2: Aww..Momma ❤ I love you
(then stuff that was precious but isn’t exactly relevant)
Thing 2: I wish I could be your mom more.

I find it ridiculously comforting that my child wants to be my mother. She is a great nurturer. She will be a mom who finds joy in her kids. She will be a foul-mouthed mom that reminds her kids “don’t say that word outside of this house or car”.
I remember being loved by my mother, but not really nurtured by her. Thing 2 is a much better nurturer than Mommie was. I would love for her to be my mom. Can we really be each other’s mom?

I honestly wonder if Thing 2 is my soulmate.

I’ve always maintained that Sundance is my soulmate. We have always said we are two halves of one. I don’t believe that has changed.
But I’m beginning to wonder if I didn’t somehow create my own soulmate. Literally give birth to her. I suspect Sundance and Girlie Thing might be soulmates too. And though Sundance and I are still two halves of one, perhaps we created the souls we are meant to attach ourselves to.

I don’t know. I may be completely off base. Is it strange to think you create your soulmate? It doesn’t’ seem strange to me. It seems perfectly natural.
Though I might not be the best barometer for what is or is not strange.

I believe people are in our lives for a specific reason. We may never know what that reason actually is. I believe we build relationships to help us find what our soul may be lacking. Sometimes it’s simple things that can be gathered easily and the relationship goes as quickly as it began. Sometimes it takes much longer to share souls.

A long time ago, I read an interesting concept of soulmates. It went something like this: Your soulmate isn’t that person who completes you, that you’re meant to be with above all others. Your soulmate is that one who jumpstarts you and shakes you to your core so that you can open up and receive more. You’re not meant to be with that person forever because it would be exhausting.
(I can’t for the life of me remember where I read this.)

I’m not sure I agree with this concept of soulmate. It sounds more like a way to feel better about failed relationships.
I don’t think soulmates have to be your significant other.

I love YBW differently than I’ve ever loved any man in my life. I accept his love differently than any other man in my life. But I don’t believe he is my soulmate. I believe we came together when we were supposed to. I believe that he is the man with whom I am supposed to be.
Believing (and saying) he isn’t my soulmate does not in any way diminish our relationship. Actually, I feel that not believing it makes our relationship even better. We are making a choice to be together.
I digress…

Soulmate. Is there just one? Can Sundance and I be two halves of one and Thing 2 be my soulmate? Do we create our own soulmate? Is it just that Thing 2 and I so alike? Is simply our closeness?
That girl is a part of me. Maybe that’s not a soulmate. Maybe that is simply our bond.

That said, I don’t feel the same way about Thing 1. I love her. She is the human personification of every hope and dream I ever had. But I don’t feel that natural closeness. Even when she was a little girl, we loved, but we were not “on the same page”.
Sundance is the same way with Boy Thing. She loves him. But they’re not connected the way she and Girlie Thing are. It’s easy to say it’s because he’s a boy. But I don’t think that’s why.

Aristophanes tells of humans as having four legs and arms and two heads. He tells that Zeus was concerned that because of their strength, they might rise up against the Gods. So he cuts them in half to weaken them. What he doesn’t count on is their instinctive desire to reunite with the half that was taken from them.
Is that just our lot in human life?
I find it curious. Mostly I find it sad. Doomed to wander, forever searching for your missing half? No wonder we sometimes make crap relationship choices.

I feel like souls are somehow drawn to each other. Not out of desperation, but out of desire to share and experience. I believe souls teach and learn together.
I believe souls connect because they were meant to.

Whether or not my second born is my soulmate doesn’t really matter. What matters is that our souls know each other. That they live and learn and love together.
We are blessed to share and experience without the confines of labels.

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

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