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Having Compassion for the Abuser

I always felt so hot and cold towards her. Whenever she doesn’t feel well, whenever she is upset — I tend to ignore it. And it’s a symptom of what I’ve had to endure. It’s not easy switching your learned responses when you have been conditioned for years and even so when you’re constantly reminded of the past.

There are still things that my mother says and does that remind me of the fact that although she is no longer the same person she was when I was a kid she still certainly displays some similar characteristics. For example, my mother doesn’t typically apologize for anything unless someone calls her out on it. She doesn’t respect your space and likes to rearrange your things the way she wants them. As a child she used to take things from my room and give them away without asking. I don’t think anyone could ever blame me for being upset.

I like to think that I’ve forgiven my mother for everything that she put me through emotionally, mentally, physically but I can’t seem to get past it. I’m hoping that by immersing myself into Iyanla Vanzant’s book Forgiveness will help. I’m starting this 21-day journey tonight and will be documenting my progress. Here goes everything!

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When No One Gets You

Ever have those moments when you’re thinking out loud to a friend or family member and they start shaking their head? Like, hello?! I was not finished explaining my thought process. You get kind of sensitive. You think, “how can what I’m saying be wrong already?”

I used to be so afraid to express what I was feeling to anyone. I didn’t want to be told that what I had spent grueling hours thinking and overanalyzing was wrong! I mean I had invested time and energy into these full reports that I was finally verbalizing. But the lightbulb when off the other day as I was talking to a friend.

I was telling her that in the future I could see myself marrying a man and not a woman. She told me not be so quick to choose (seeing as how I’ve dated both). But I’ve already overanalyzed it and no matter how hard I try the thought of marrying a woman does not feel comfortable nor is something that I have ever really seen as a future for myself. I may have said it in the past but I’ve evolved. And said it from the old me, the one who thought love was something completely different — I thought it was just infatuation and physical and then the emotional would follow. I’ve learned, in the past several months, that it should be flip-flopped. The one who so desperately wanted to connect with my female because my own relationship with my mother was so severed. Yeah, that was a tough one to learn. <Add in childhood memories trauma and yeah, it’s super complicated.>

And then I started thinking that regardless of her opinion, I know my thoughts better than anyone else and don’t need anyones blessing to be me and act upon what I think feels right. No one will ever understand my inner workings and I will never understand anyone else’s.

This particular friend had gone through a very difficult health issue in the last few years. A very life-or-death scenario which I know was very eye-opening and life-changing for her. Now, however many stories she shares with me or feelings that she expresses — I will never know what that experience felt like and so it’s only my job to love and be there for her. It isn’t my job to judge her or tell her she’s on the wrong path. As author Caroline Myss has stated, “you’re never on the wrong path, you’re just not managing it well.”

With that being said, I wanted to share two things I reflected on today. Let me know if there’s anything interesting that you thought of today. Would love to hear!!! Doesn’t matter what it is.

  1. Your truth is just that — YOUR truth. Don’t be discouraged from your growth process just because someone doesn’t get it. It’s for you to get, not anyone else. As long as you’re not harming yourself or anyone else — you’re golden!
  2. Everyone can do anything. However, they can only do it to the best of their ability.
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What Does Perfect Look Like?

When you think of the perfect family or the perfect job — what does that look like to you? I can bet you that everyone’s definition of perfect is different. It’s catered to what your needs and desires are. You dream of being a singer? I’m sure perfection would be doing gigs every night and writing music without having to return to your day job. Am I right?

When I was younger my vision of perfect was to have the kind of mom that baked cookies all the time and never looked at the price tags while shopping. That my dad would let me have whatever I wanted and I wouldn’t have to do chores for an allowance. I chuckle to myself because I’m sure that there’s a girl who wished that her parents were more fiscally responsible and had better eating habits. LOL.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to realize that perfect isn’t about wanting something you don’t have. It’s about accepting what you have — good or bad. It’s taken many years (still in progress) to accept this fact. Perfect is what I make of it.

Accepting what I would have considered ideal is not the reality. But I do have a choice to be content and practice gratitude in my life for what I do have. I could literally come up with hundreds of things to be thankful for that range from small to big. The one that is the most important to me is that God loves me exactly for who I am — always has and always will.

That gives me strength along with the support of family and friends. Finding my purpose has also given me a big boost of strength and empowerment. My purpose is to help people, to bring people together to talk about their experiences and to inspire people by what I’ve learned. How that will transpire in the future – I’m not really sure but I know that I can start by living by the principle and trust in what God has in store for me.

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Who is the Girl in that Selfie?

I’ve convinced myself of the reason why I like to take selfies. I’m trying to see if I still recognize her, especially after the life-altering year I’ve had.

For years I’ve lived my life on autopilot, trying to fill every minute of every day with work, friends, relationships, concerts, restaurants, clubs, dancing, and I drowned out the voice inside. The voice that held the answer to who I was, my dreams, my purpose and my inner peace.

I was in a constant tug-of-war between a boss who projected all of her anger onto me and significant other who did just the same. Had the new people at work not asked why I let my boss mistreat me, it may have taken me a lot longer to realize how bad it actually was.

Now, no one asked me about the girlfriend, because I never told anyone the truth of what was happening. I never told anyone that she yelled at me for the smallest things, that she became jealous of anyone I spoke to, criticized me constantly and manipulated me into thinking she was the best thing that had ever happened to me.

Those who know me have been in total disbelief that I would allow such people in my life for as long as I did. The thing is that the broken me – the girl who never made it past May 31, 2014 – didn’t realize that I had a choice.

I was taught to learn that love would always hurt one way or another. That if you made people angry with you they would hurt you and that love would always mean pain. That you should accept that you’ll always be the punching bag. And that’s exactly what they represented to me — another chance at proving all of those things right.

Having these two individuals in my life during a 9-month period completely wreaked havoc on me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was anxious all of the time, gaining weight, losing interest in seeing friends, not feeling motivated to take care of myself, and preoccupying myself by pleasing the two people in my life who did not deserve it. I was definitely in a state of depression.

Several months ago I had had it at work and I courageously (some would say foolishly) quit my job without having anything else lined up. That alleviated some anxiety and stress but something still wasn’t right. A week after I quit my job, I moved in with my significant other and things started to spiral down quickly soon after. The fights became more intense, the words became more hateful, and I cried almost every night.

If it hadn’t been for the few weeks I spent at the local public library, using the computers to job search I don’t know where’d I’d be. During that time, I checked out a self-help/spiritual healing book by author Iyanla Vanzant, titled Peace from Broken Pieces. In the book she shared so much truth about her life struggles and how everything that happened in her life was a direct reflection of how she felt about herself.  Being a fan of hers from years back and seeing her on the Oprah show, it was mind-blowing to me that this woman endured so much turmoil.

A quote of hers that still gets me choked up is, “You can only get what you really want by letting go of what you don’t want.”

With that, I decided I was leaving the toxic relationship. A few days later a temporary job fell through and I ended up not only leaving a relationship, but also leaving a job, an apartment and my city and moving hundreds of miles away to live with my parents.

Nowadays when I take a selfie it serves as a reminder that I’m not completely lost. That even though there are parts of the girl prior to May 31, 2014 that no longer exist, I’m still here slowly picking up her pieces, healing them and using them to shape the me I thought I’d lost. 934771_10100505330996512_4189002201993813681_n

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The Heaviest Kitchen Table Talk

So as I’m on this track of becoming more aware of my thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions and addressing them, I decided to have ‘the talk‘ with my mother.

The talk that’s always needed to happen but I never quite felt like it was the right time. The talk that would bring mother and daughter to confront issues that have been resting right below the surface for a long time.

For years I tried to convince myself that I would never need to address it — that I would somehow manage to move on and be okay. Finally on July 19, 2014 I decided to have the talk. I confronted my mother about the lack of emotional, physical and mental instability I faced as a child.

There were many things that I faced in my childhood that always made me feel sudden urges of rage, anxiety, panic, insecurity, unworthiness, inadequacy, and so on and so forth.

My mother experienced the same things in her childhood and because she had not healed it prior to having children  I was the lucky recipient of the same treatment.

Now, I won’t go into detail of everything that I experienced as a child but I will let you know that throughout my life I experienced flashbacks and strong feelings of anxiety at the hands of mental, emotional and physical abuse. Things that made it difficult to be in relationships because I was searching for something that the other person couldn’t give me — my mother’s acknowledgment of what had happened and the truth.

Now at 26 years of age, I stood in her kitchen and began to speak as clearly as possible as the tears started to stream.

I won’t go into the full dialogue of what was said but I’ll let you know the points that were discussed on both my end and her end.

My Grievances

  • I never felt safe as a child
  • I didn’t feel that my words or feelings were ever validated
  • I didn’t feel comforted (false sense of comfort)
  • I was confused as to what love meant
  • I accepted that chaos and instability would always be part of loving relationships
  • I had estranged relationships with women because the foundation of what a woman thought of me (my mother) was completely distorted
  • I didn’t like the idea of bringing my (future) children around my mother
  • I didn’t feel like I could have a relationship with my mother because she used very little tact when it came to expressing herself (often hurting people’s feelings)

What I Wanted

  • A relationship with my mother
  • Being able to trust her with my feelings
  • Communicating effectively as mother and daughter
  • Acknowledgement of what had happened

My Mother’s Response

  • She completely understood where I was coming from
  • She did I try to apologize years before but I was not able to receive the message because I had not developed my thoughts about the issue
  • She asked for my forgiveness and I could tell that the part about not bringing children around really hurt her (I reassured her that I would)
  • She promised to reflect on the way she says things to make sure she doesn’t her mine or anyone else’s feelings (her first inclination was to threaten me that she was going to just not say anything anymore)

A lot of tears were shed but not as many as I had cried over the years and it felt like a spiritual cleanse. A huge weight had been lifted from my chest and I could tell off of hers as well.

UPDATE

It’s a work in progress but each day is an opportunity to strengthen the bond. I can’t say that magically everything is better but at least the pounding thought in my head about my mother and the talk could finally stop.

We find small things to chit chat about and I know that given time we’ll be in a much better place because anything is better than never having said a word.

Me & Mom

Me & Mom