Monday, May 4, 2015

Meditation Monday: Reflections on the best year of my life [super long post]

A year ago today I said goodbye to my mother.

Don't get that wrong - she's very much alive.

When I said goodbye to her, it was on my terms. She uninvited herself to my wedding towards the end of our conversation: "I'm going to do us both a favor. I hope your day in August is everything you want it to be."

She tried to tell everyone I didn't invite her because I'm a liberal snob (I wish I was kidding) but those words stick in my head to remind me that it wasn't my choice.


My mother is someone that needed (needs?) a lot of therapy for the things she went through growing up and she never got it. She thinks that is a sign of weakness anyways. She had concerns for how much to share because, after all, the environment she grew up in was all about looking perfect on the outside and not exposing any dirty little secrets to anyone, something that tends to follow certain religious sects.

This is also an environment she created for us.


She grew up in a world where discipline was doled out by the handful, with physical violence and screaming matches the norm. She had to help raise her siblings when she should've been being a child. She dealt with abuse not only from her mother but from others outside the family as well.

It's a sad story for sure. However, none of what she went through excuses how she perpetuated that cycle of 'discipline' and abuse towards her daughters.


You all know how I feel about secrets, and this family situation is the biggest reason why. If someone - anyone - had shared a secret along the way, perhaps my mother could've gotten help she needed - and her mother before her. Alas, mother refuses to even get help with her physical health issues that could be life-threatening, so mental health issues are far behind on the priority list.

It's not worth the interventions I've staged, the false promises, or the fights. And that's really sad.


I wish they weren't. I wish things were different. I wish I didn't feel so much like an orphan who had to raise herself and help raise her sister... and to some extent, her mother really.

With my sister moved away and me out of contact with my mother, I feel so much like an empty nester who gets to accomplish things she always looked forward to now.

It's such an odd feeling at 27.

I very much wish that we had been allowed to have a more normal childhood. I wish having normal relationships with other children happened instead of the abuse at the hands of other children that we went through - and instead of the emotional incest and oversharing about sexuality we endured from the adults in our home... and the physical abuse. (EDIT: want to learn more about this type of parenting? Click here - Kels & I could practically have been these kids.)


I wish that I hadn't been told the absolute worst would happen if I did xyz... I never was abducted for playing outside. I never was harmed by a stranger offering to help. Because of the apocalyptic views, I grew to have horrible anxiety attacks to the point where I couldn't sleep at night because that's obviously when crime happened. If I slept, someone might have snuck into the house and hurt my family.

That continues off and on still.

It probably will for the rest of my life.

And I fucking hate it.


People say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I have enough strength already - I did growing up. I don't need my illness crud or current family crud to add to that, thanks much.

That said...


From the moment I stopped having a relationship with my mother, I gained strength. Emotionally, I began to process and accept what I have been through - something that I will have to work on until the day I leave this earth. I began to mentally deal with the abuse I've been through, which is a similar process. Recognizing what is and isn't abuse is hard. So many people write things off as dysfunction because we refuse to believe or deal with what's in front of us.

I also began to physically decompress from all the stress of my whole life. My body isn't perfect. I'm still sick. I still have to take and switch meds to get better and better (eventually). However, I'm feeling the best that I have since I was just starting college. I'm able to be physically active and not have to pay for it afterwards.

Heck, if my labs weren't awful, I would think remission was close at hand.

The amount of stress a relationship with my mother causes physically alone isn't cost effective. If we add in those emotional bits, it's like trying to be bffs with Voldemort.


In the last year, I have taken my life back. I've done things that I've always wanted to do, from traveling alone to meeting my dad and starting to become a part of that family to getting married to my best friend to getting an amazing job and moving to visiting my sister on the west coast and trying to take her mind off things to truly learning who I am.

I'm a wife, piggie momma, awkward daughter, sister, good friend, quirky feminist, gamer, writer, musician, hard worker, fun person, a fixer... I could go on and on.

Perhaps the most important thing I've learned is who I am not and what I will not do.

I am not a victim. I refuse to play that part, despite all the shit I've gone through, because I see where that leads me in my mother and grandmother. I am not an abuser. I am not a scared little girl who will keep quiet because of threats. I am not someone who can be lied to and conned into believing everyone else is awful or that everyone else is to blame for our problems. I am not gullible nor am I a liar. I am not someone who will choose a religion when it's convenient and turn my back on it in better times. I am not perfect and I will not pretend that I am. I will not even set perfection as a goal anymore because it isn't realistic. I will not threaten my loved ones with my suicide when things are tough. I will not lean on my future children to be my best friends instead of raising them. I will not neglect my siblings or niblings, no matter what comes. I am not someone who feels entitled to everything. I am not someone who would allow children in my care to be abused by others and do nothing about it. I am not someone who will badmouth everyone behind their backs, only to act like they're amazing to their faces. I will not neglect or beat animals. I will not bow down to a man I act like I need to run my life. I will not spew bigotry and argue why others should believe as I do.


Who I am, quite simply, is someone who chooses to live in the present, who wants to help others and to do the most right things, and who loves with her full heart.

Most of all, through all of this rebuilding, I have discovered that I am worth it. I am worth the efforts I take, the money I spend on such things, and the time I use on myself.


I guess the thing that bothers me the most is that mother and grandmother refuse to even acknowledge that there could possibly maybe be a hint of a smidgen of truth in what I remember. But like, they also don't remember a whole lot, so... whatever. That's irrelevant. If you've hurt someone - even if you think you didn't - you apologize and learn about it so you don't do it again.


I am sure that, as usual, my mother will throw a fit about this post.


Despite the fact that I've made it clear that I don't want her in my life, she continues to 'check up' on me online. It bothers me that she gives no fucks about my wishes, but it doesn't surprise me either given the last 27 years of crap.

Nothing does at this point.

While it pisses me off that she won't let go, I refuse to stop blogging or talking about what I've been through - especially after all the sweet things that I've been told lately by readers on social media about how helpful I have been... and especially with big things in the works for me. I refuse to tear down this mini-empire of helpfulness that took me so long to build and to get recognized.


I'm meant for too many amazing things to let someone like this stop me. That's not being cocky or self-centered either - it's called confidence.

I will continue to be me and to live the life I was meant to live - one where I love myself and help others to learn to do the same, despite these dang illnesses or issues stemming from abuse that we deal with every day long after perps are out of the picture.

I won't hide myself to make the lives of others more comfortable, not ever again.


Someone asked me how I've been able to cut contact with my mother, which is a great question. Cutting contact when I did, right before getting married, was difficult with the expectations from society on mothers' and fathers' roles in weddings and such. So much to say there for another day.


It's very simple really. Any time I thought maybe I was on the wrong path, I pictured a vivid scene in my mind - usually having to do with my sister.

It's mother picking on my sister, telling her to grow a sense of humor because mother making fun of her wasn't something sis thought was funny.

It's when our uncle would take my sister and me to the other side of the house and cover our ears, but we could still hear mother and grandmother screaming threats and horrible things at each other - and sometimes physically assaulting each other as well.

It's my mother continuing to sleep with someone who sexually assaulted me, long after I told her about it, and making excuses for his actions. It's forcing me to be around him after she promised I'd never have to see him again. It's not believing what I'd said until Kelsey saw him try to drunkenly kiss me. It's forcing us to lie, to say we were his friend's kids when we stayed at his house with his WIFE there.

It's my mother telling me she'd let me marry my high school boyfriend at FIFTEEN when he turned 18, and to start asking the extended family for wedding tips, only to laugh at me afterwards.

It's her sharing very personal things with the extended family, like when I lost my virginity or started my period.

Most often, though, it's when my sister would be beaten. I tend to think of the times she was beaten with the buckle end of a belt while I hid and cried. You could hear the blood-curdling screams through the house. It's a scene I can't describe - one that always makes me cry no matter where I am or what I'm doing.


I never wear belts, and this is why. I can barely look at one without thinking of this - something I know is from my PTSD.

No child, no matter what they have done, deserves to go through what my sister has been through at the hands of my mother alone. Add into that what other children did to her and I'm very lucky that she's still alive - and still my best friend.

I'm still not sure how the cops weren't ever called to our house. If more people called when they heard things like this, so much abuse could be prevented. I find myself angry with people who easily could've gotten us help. I know it's misdirected, but still. As someone who is hypervigilant due to the abuse, it's hard for me to not get how others didn't see these things. It was so obvious.

It's been the most validating thing to have people I knew in middle and high school contact me throughout this to let me know that they always sensed something off, but didn't know what to do or how bad it was. To know that sane, normal people see this too as abuse is amazing.

And then there is my therapy and how much that is helping. I'm getting new ideas, new ways to cope with all this crap.

One of the ways I'm dealing with these experiences is to tell my story here, but also to tell my story on my body.


The mother's day after cutting contact with my mother, I got my first tattoo - the stars from the pages of the Harry Potter books. They mean so much to me. I love Harry Potter for many reasons - the triumph against evil, abuse, stalking, etc. The stars on my foot remind me that I write my own pages now and that I've turned the page - and will always keep moving forward. They're also a reminder to not put up with Dursley-like abuse any longer.


I just recently got two more tattoos.

Heart from the Heart & Brain comics is SO me, from the impulsive and silly attitude right down to loving Batman. He now adorns my right shoulder. I'm also treating this as a tattoo for my niblings between Sam's congenital heart condition and Marissa's love of superheroes.


I also have this on my left wrist. It's is a little tricky to explain. 

I'm not religious, but I consider myself spiritual.

In any case, this tattoo has nothing to do with that.

I see so many people with illnesses getting tattoos that include the word 'hope.' I know it sounds weird, but I hate that word. Hope is so inactive. It leaves things up to the universe or deities or others. When we hope for a cure, we wish, but don't always act.

Believe, instead, feels active. If I believe in something, I will throw my support behind it. I will do what I can to help that task get accomplished.

I choose believe over hope also because hope is so up in the air. There is no timeline, no plan, no certainty that the task will ever be accomplished. Believe comes with certainty - something that I have regarding cures to illnesses.

Simply put, to find cures and better treatments or raise awareness, we must act and engage others. We cannot sit idly by while researchers and doctors don't hear us or act on our words. We cannot hope it will be better without taking actions to make it so.

This serves a dual purpose too. Blue is not only the color of the arthritis ribbon, but also the one for child abuse. My foot and wrist will always remind me of where I came from and where I'm going. It reminds me that I'm a survivor, not only of my physical illnesses but also my mental ones stemming from the abuse.

It tells me to believe the very real things I remember, no matter how hard they are to believe.

Combined, they all remind me to be myself, to be real, to believe that I'm worth those actions... and to always be Batman. Duh.


This is probably like 5 blog posts rolled into one. Brevity isn't always my strong suit.

Anyway.

Today is my independence day.

I'm going to enjoy it.

All the things I've done over the past year have been amazing, and it's wonderful to know what life is like when you're not paralyzed by fear... or as much fear anyway. It took me hours to build up the courage to call someone last night. But when that someone is your dad and you're practically in the courtship phase of your relationship, it feels hella awkward sometimes.


That's especially true when you still don't get boundaries, normal relationships, and all those things you should learn through socialization or family.

In the end, all that matters is that my family and I are happy and healthy. We're all working through some fucked up shit honestly. Mother can sit there and try to lie to everyone, as usual, to get them on her side and to make her the victim. Grandmother can do it too. That's fine. For me, there aren't sides - there's the truth and the lies, and I know where my family of choice and I stand in that.



1 comment: