When I think of my family of origin, I see my mom, my brother and myself in one tight circle – intricately connected, and my father outside of the circle, but with a rope tethered to each of us, binding us to him in different ways.
It’s with new understanding that I now see how mom was bound to my father and helpless and defenseless to his treatment of her. Her binds also made her incapable of protecting my brother and me. We were all vulnerable to his manipulation, emotional and physical abuse. It’s taken me a long time to frame what happened in my childhood home as abuse and what went on between my parents as domestic abuse, but I do understand this now most of the time (and I turn 50 this month – for the love).
My eyes are opening, although they are crusty, cloudy, and the light is painful.
With this awakening has come anger towards all the people, which is unsettling to my almost 50-year old self who understands the above and feels great sorrow over it, but often gets sucker punched by this flash of anger. I’m learning in the therapy room that there is also this younger part of me who needs a chance to come to terms with what happened in our home and until the child in me can do this, she’s going to feel a lot of big feelings – anger, rage, anger, and then some more rage.
Good times. #prayformyhusband
And, yes, I know there are a host of other painful emotions to feel, but I’m most comfortable with the anger, so let’s go with that for now.
The real challenge for me is to hold the tension between my adult self who is almost 50 (almost – let’s be clear on that) and has deep compassion and love for my mom knowing she did the best she could to protect me, and my child self who is pissed as hell at my mom because she wasn’t able to make the choice to get out and rescue us from the hell we were in with my father.
I’m not quite sure how to do that without tearing my soul apart.
I guess I say all this to say that this journey of mine is going to be messy. And since I’m choosing to write publicly as I walk it out I thought you as a reader should know that I’m aware of this and mostly okay with it. I know of too many people silently suffering alone with a childhood that they don’t quite understand to hide my journey in a diary with a little key that doesn’t work anyway.
I tell my stories as well as I can. Some of them are funny, some of them are powerful, some of them are sweet, some of them are sad. But a lot of them are messy and still in process.
Just like most of life.
And today I am messily missing my mom because I caught myself inadvertently using one of the quirky little nicknames she used to call my babies when she played with them (which was all the time) as I played with my own grandbaby. She was an amazing grandmother, and I hope it’s the first of many times I look at my little grandson, Teddy, and call him “Stinkfoot” without even thinking because when I do I know that’s a tiny piece of her so ingrained in me it comes out without even an ounce of effort.
And every little piece of her in me counts.