Writing Challenge Days 2 & 3 – Exhaustion

Writing Challenge Days 2 & 3 – Exhaustion

Didn’t make it to the computer to write yesterday.  I wasn’t expecting to be as “not sober” as I was in the evening.  So today I have roughly 35 minutes to make this a double post.  Sadly my mind is blank.  I have two thoughts which trade places in my mind: I’m so completely exhausted and I’m sick of my Facebook news feed.

Lets talk about an easier subject to tackle – my exhaustion.  I’m exhausted for many reasons, the first being my fibromyalgia (or the more technical diagnosis of Seronegative Spondyloarthropathy).  Going from Summer to Fall brings on intense muscular pain.  All season changes hurt but this one is the worst.  I feel like someone took a bat to my entire spinal column.  Yoga helps to keep movement to my body and I also use other “natural remedies” to keep the pain away.  The exhaustive effects are felt mentally as well as physically.  It’s painful to watch others living their lives while being immobile on a couch.  Now given, I am still at a level at which I can push through and not like so many others who truly aren’t able to move.  Yet it wears on me.  It brings me fear as I wonder how much worse it will get.  Though I was assured by my last rheumatologist that I do not have a degenerative disease; I feel the symptoms getting worse.

Feeling like the pain, the immobility, the exhaustion is getting worse then leads to more fear.  How will I take care of myself?  What if I can’t work?  Who will take care of me?  Living in the moment is a nice idea, and preferable to trailing off into my nightmares, but not always a reality when the hurt gets more aggressive.

Admittedly, I’m exhausted from life too.  I’m tired of fighting: fighting to be heard, fighting for my rights, fighting for my boundaries, fighting for those that won’t or can’t fight.  So tired.  I’d love to walk away from it all but that’s not who I am.  Yet I’ve been fighting from birth.  Being born female into a conservative Christian household is a slow torturous hell for someone who was made to be outspoken and vocal.  The fight is constant too.  The worst is when the men in your life, men you find to be good and strong and moral, still make underhanded misogynist comments.  We’re supposed to smile and be nice because “they didn’t mean anything bad” all the while dying a little more inside.

km turned back

I still make myself small when I don’t want to.  Get small to avoid conflict, avoid the fight, avoid the drama.  Make sure everyone around you is happy.  Suck it up, appease each person, be cordial, don’t anger anyone, just shut up.  I would doubt most males could relates to any of what I just said.  Yes, those with strict upbringings may relate to some, but it never hits the level it does when you are female.

So I look for the balance.  Walking the wire between being exactly who I want to be and not stirring up a whole big batch of bullshit.  I want to believe that one day I will no longer feel my survival depends on keeping balance.  I long for the day I jump off to the side that is all my true feelings while flipping off everyone who requested my silence.

This post was all over the place.  Not what I wanted. Not even fully authentic as I saw faces coming to mind as I typed and I worked my words to fit what would be middle of the road for all.  Yet for today ~ this is all I can offer.

beingwhoyouarequote

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Accepting the present ~ as it is

{be honest}  Types a few words.  {Hey!  not that honest!}  Deletes.  Get it done by 6:43am.  Whoops!  It’s 7:20am.  It’s 9:35am.  It’s 10:22am.  Scroll Facebook feed.  Scroll.  Scroll.  Scroll.  Eat some ice cream.  And a brownie.  Heart racing.  {What are you scared to say?  Admit it.}  Procrastinate some more.

Today is my birthday.  I was born the exact year, day and time that Woodstock was starting.  Did you do the math?  I’m 47.  I immediately got sick as I saw that number.  I’ve worked hard in the past 7 years to hide my age, to pretend I’m younger and to try to portray myself as anything but what is the truth.  Sure there are all the usual reasons of age being mocked in our society and youth is celebrated.  There is shame too.  Shame that I should have been more, done more and not be where I am.  A lot of shame.  Yet at my core I truly look at my age in awe.  I feel so much younger inside, and by younger I do not mean “young in spirit”, no, I mean emotionally immature by a good 10+ years.  I look around all the time for an adult and find I’m the oldest in the room!
Woodstock-1969
So know that stating my age is an act of courage for me.  Though in the past year it’s been thrown in my face time and time again that I was never fooling anyone.  I recently had a 30 year old send me a funny meme that use “AF” and he proceeded to explain to me what “AF” stood for.  My stomach dropped as I realized he thinks I’m an old person that doesn’t understand today’s lingo.  (Was lingo an old word?  Ut oh.)  I quickly responded with “I may be old AF, but I sure AF, know what AF stands for!”  (Hey old timers – it means As Fuck.)  I died inside.  He knows.  They all know.  I’ve had women I looked at as significantly older than me, both in looks and attitude, say, “Well you know how it is for people our age.”  OUR AGE?  No.  No, no, no, no and no!  We are not the same!  I’m spunky and sassy and sexy and you are OLD AF!  Oh, you’re actually younger than me?  Well isn’t that interesting.

So here I am.  47 years old.  Looking up the wrinkled ass of 50.  Ugh.  But I own it.  Today I choose to own it.  No, my life did not turn out as I planned.  In fact, I didn’t have any plans.  I was fully on the Highway to Hell (take this any way you choose to take it) and prepared to die.  So really, if you look at the trauma I lived, I’m doing fucking fantastic!  I’ve heard people stop caring what others think in their 30’s, so I’m a little behind but I’m getting there.  The wisdom I have today is hard won, and you know what, I know a lot.  I can’t change the past or the journey I took.  And would I do it all the same if I had the chance?  Oh fucking hell no!  I hate people that say they are OK with going through horrors because it got them to where they are today.  But I accept it and I’m still breathing.

I’m working hard on staying present.   Trying to live the exact life I want.  Setting boundaries for the first time.  Learning to breathe through the bullshit.  
So as I end this post, which feels scattered and unsure (exactly how I feel at this moment), I encourage you to be honest, to express your truth and to live the life that you want.  As I say frequently these days, “You’re about to die…..what do you really want?

I will not be her

Her.  My mother.  Now much has been said about how tumultuous the mother ~ daughter relationship can be.  Mothers and daughters fighting with each other for connection and autonomy.  There has also been as much said about abusive mothers and the trail of pain they leave behind.  My mother is somewhere in between.  I type this with my stomach in a knot, worrying about saying too much, yet desperately needing to share my truth.  When I had my son, my only child, my mother said, “You HAVE to have a 2nd child!  You need a daughter!  You need to experience the mother daughter dynamic!”  I replied, with a glare, “I’ve already had enough with you and I don’t need anymore.”

I’m not ready to share the nitty gritty of it all.  There is way too much.  I will say she did nice “motherly” things, and still does, but in a self-serving way.  The children never came first.  Her wants and desires always took precedence.  And if we were caught in the crossfire, well to quote her, “Tough!”  I’ve learned recently that my mother is a narcissist.  I’m an empath.  A narcissist and an empath are a horrible combination, as the empath gets destroyed.

So I had a baby and decided that this sweet child would always come first.  No matter what.  All decisions were made with the overarching thought “I will give him a better life.  He will know without any question that he’s loved and accepted.  And I will not be selfish.”  He bit me while nursing during teething episodes and I took it instead of putting him down and saying, “No.”.  I wanted him to be first.  I spent every waking hour of every week end with him, leaving no time for myself, as I felt so guilty that I had to work.  I praised his every move.  I did anything and everything I thought a “good parent” should do.  And though there have been bumps along the way, I have an amazing young man now.

Yet he’s pulling away.  He’s doing what a normal healthy 17 year old boy should do and establishing himself as an adult.  After all these years of giving him everything, and seeing I’m no longer number one, it hurts but I accept it.

I find thoughts creeping in, that I haven’t had for nearly 30 years, of running away.  Thoughts of packing a suitcase, jumping on a plane and flying away with no plan at all.  (I’ve done this multiple times.)  Running away would be something she would do.  Or rather, divorce, marry  a few more times, get in a mess and expect me, her child, to bail her out.  I will not be her.

I’ve been spending money on myself lately.  Spending wildly with the core thought “I’m about to die anyway!”  This mantra came on since the death of my father.  Life feels very short and I feel like I’ve missed out.  Missed out by being safe, saving and surviving.  I want to buy something ridiculous as a big “fuck you” to all those telling me I can’t.  But this would be her, selfishly thinking only of her wants.  I will not be her.

It’s terrifying when you see the behaviors you despised, those that hurt so deeply, being acted out by you.  It is difficult not to worry that because these are the genes you come from that this is what you are destined to become.  A lifetime of working to be different only to hear her voice in your own, see her actions become yours and to feel that selfishness creeping in.

I’m at a crossroads.  How can I live the life I want and still be a good mother?  And most importantly; how can I not be her?  My only answers are awareness, doing the next right thing, being cognizant of my actions.  Because above all ~ I will not be her.

mother daughter

 

 

I’m through apologizing for being me

I’m through apologizing for being me

“You love that I debate with you; only you hate that it comes from your daughter and not one of your sons!”
“Yep!”
“Well it sucks to be you.”

As best I can recall, this was the ending to one of the many tiring debates between myself and my father.  I believe I was around 20 years old.  Though I don’t remember the details of this small war, I’m sure it was something about the bible and no doubt how women were treated.  I was female, and due to my lack of penis, I was supposed to shut the fuck up.

While my father was still a pastor, he feared what I would do and say as a teenager.  I was a wild card (no, please stop your snickering pastor’s daughter comments right now), I was vocal and I didn’t fit into the proper mold.  I was told “You don’t want your mother and brothers to end up on the streets because I lost my job due to your actions, do you?”

So I lived a double life.  I attended all mandatory events, put on a sweet smile and tried to suppress who I really was.  Sometimes I even tried really hard to be the good girl.  Who I was certainly wasn’t OK, so I learned to be very sorry and apologetic.

apologize

A good friend posted this picture on my Facebook wall saying, “I imagine this was how you looked as a child.”  In attitude, yes; in looks, well not so much.  Yet the words resonated and pierced me “too big, too loud, too emotional, too edgy”; simply too much.  I’ve always been a little too much.  When you’re too much you learn to acclimate and accommodate.  You take up too much space so you learn to be smaller.

“Calm down!  You’re getting all riled up!”  Too much.

“So tell us how you really feel! Ha Ha Ha.”  Too much.

“Stop being so sensitive!”  Too much.

You lose pieces of your soul, bit by bit, when you have to hold back who you are.  Yet you can only hold it in so long, well I can only hold it in so long before not having the capacity to contain it much more.

So I’m though apologizing for being me.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” ~ Anaïs Nin

 Today is that day.

You don’t get that.

You don’t get that.

“You don’t get that.”  Four words that haunt me.  I was first told this sentence by a friend who was describing an episode of Celebrity Sober House with Dr. Drew (stop judging me – I fucking love that show); she described a therapy moment where a patient was sobbing over all the things he wanted in his father.  He wailed for a caring, loving, present and understanding father, and was met with the blunt statement “You don’t get that.”  It stopped him cold, and me as well.  My first thoughts were that this was such a horrible and hurtful thing to say yet so painfully true.

I’ve read other blog posts about this episode which took this to mean “Suck it up.  Stop whining.”  That wasn’t exactly my take as I do feel whining, or rather weeping out the pain of your soul, is cathartic and necessary.  Processing pain is never a one-time event.  It seeps out slowly and sometimes in ways you aren’t fully cognizant of without a lot of self-awareness.  I’ve processed the pain of my relationship with my father, well my mother too, for as long as I can remember.  Sometimes I delve into their selfishness and abandonment, and at other times I go a different direction and mourn what never was.  I’ve forced myself to forgive them repeatedly; yet when you see the same behavior that caused the pain, it all comes back up.

Dr. Drew is certainly right in that “I don’t get that.” in so many ways.  I wasn’t blessed with parents who were invested in their children.  (Side note: I will need to do a post some time about how much I hate the word “blessed”.  So triggering.)  My brother and I have remarked many times that it would have been a lot easier to stomach if one of them had been an alcoholic, a drug addict or mentally insane, because then there would have been logical reasons for their behavior.

I do acknowledge I hold onto things a bit tighter than would be healthy.  Acceptance truly is the key.  Yet sometimes the trauma of one event, overlaps and collides with something completely different, and this is where it gets tricky.  For instance this past September I found I was panicking and triggered over a rape 20+ years before. I’d been stable and OK with what happened for a long time.  Forgiven myself for actions that were never my fault.  I could speak about it like the weather.  So why was this shit coming back to haunt me now?

It’s believed in yoga theory that your muscles, in particular the muscles in your hips, hold your emotions, pain and trauma.  It’s not uncommon for someone practicing yoga to have emotions well up, even tears, while doing hip opening postures.  Amazing work is being done by Bessell van der Kolk, who wrote “The Body Keeps the Score”, “he transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust.”  Interesting.

think

So perhaps, those of us that are still triggered, can’t let go, can’t walk away, may be dealing with our brain’s trauma wiring, and we’re not so rigid and unforgiving after all?

I was ridiculed and criticized while in the church for continuing to be hurt from my past . They gave SO many reasons why this was happening and all were apparently my fault.  “You’re not accepting the price Jesus paid on the cross….you’re not trusting God…you’re not praying enough…you’re bitter (OK, I agree with that one)…you’ve got a demon (personal favorite).”  I walked to the front of so many churches with my forgiveness list, nailing my anger to a cross (literally), throwing my written thoughts in a fire, telling others, repenting of “my part” (though most of that was fucked up) and crying, crying, crying.  Nothing worked.

I avoided this post for a few weeks as I didn’t have a cute little conclusion.  Lets just say I’m working on it.

 

Back to the grave

“These aren’t about me!  This isn’t me!  These were the things my father said about my mother!”  Therapy is hard work; weeks, months and years can go by without a breakthrough.  It’s still beneficial for slogging through the days of your life, but we all want that light bulb moment.  This was mine.

I’ve been in some form of therapy on and off for years, decades really.  Crying about a father that didn’t want me, facing the traumas and horrors of my teen years and accepting that I did the best I could with what little I was given.  There was emotional release, for a moment, but it was truly the same words being repeated year after year without getting to the other side.

I should disclose that in addition to my psychological therapist; I now have friends who know me well enough, and love me enough, to give just as much guidance and support.  These therapist friends are a Facebook group of people I met through the page Stuff Christian Culture Likes (SCCL).  I found the page accidentally while searching Jonathan Acuff’s – Stuff Christians Like.  Stuff Christians Like was cute but tame; I got some laughs but didn’t really feel understood.  Finding SCCL blew open my world, as I found my people.  People being honest about their doubts, their fears and the atrocities committed by the church.  Through random chance (divine intervention?) I was put into a group of 20 people who have stood beside me in some of the worst times of my recent years.  I believe their presence in my life, along with my therapist, allowed this mind blowing moment.

My therapy homework assignment was to write statements I felt about myself in a specific area.  I did my list 10 minutes before leaving for the appointment as it was too painful to see the statements and hold the emotions for a sustained period of time.  As I read the list I saw my father’s face and was rushed back to a dinner we had shortly after my parent’s divorce.  He went into graphic details of the ways she’d betrayed him, ruined him and broken him.  Healthy boundaries didn’t exist as I had to listen to his tirade about my mother.  He ended is saying, “I have a hard time looking at you because you look so much like your mother.”  I was 16.

As I exclaimed, “These aren’t about me!  This isn’t me!  These were the things my father said about my mother!” I felt my body tingle.  My face became flushed and I started struggling to breathe.  My therapist called me to mindfulness and brought me back to the room, as my memories were swirling and starting to swallow me up.  I said, “I’m going back to the grave with this list.  I need ridiculous dramatic moments to push me along.”  I added, “I’ll do it Saturday, February 13th, the day before Valentine’s day, I want this off of me before then.  I also like that it’s on the 13th.  I was raped on the 13th.  I want that day – that number back.”

It wasn’t as cold on this day back at the grave site.  Not nearly as tumultuous to drive there either; I knew my route and was focused.  Still couldn’t find his damn headstone but I now had a place that I’d designated for my release moments.  I read the list allowed, half crying – half screaming, much angrier than the previous time.  As I ripped the list up and gave his statements about my mother back to him, I stomped and growled.  Felt a bit like a toddler, or someone losing their mind, but it felt right and good.

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I then drove to my step-mother’s and brought back the key to their house. I’ve held onto it with thoughts of breaking in when my step-mother isn’t there. I didn’t want to take anything. I wanted to snoop. And I wanted to see if my father wrote anything…about me…that’s nice. I kept the key in my purse so I’d be prepared for my moment.  It had to go.  Now in my family when there is an issue we typically write letters back and forth, raging with venom as to why we are right and deserve an apology.  I did nothing this time.  My silence was the statement.  I wrote her name on an envelope, put the keys and a post it saying what they were, and didn’t even sign it.  Be gone.

grave_key

The blogs I’ve read recently tend to end with a bible verse or some statement about how “God did ___”.  I don’t have that.  I was told for years in church that God would reconcile my father and I and make everything new and better.  I was disowned two years before he died, and though I did see him before his death, God didn’t do shit.  As always.

There isn’t a nice way to wrap this up as the journey continues.