on raising children…

I’ve spent my entire life hiding my past from others, but it’s been become much more difficult since becoming a parent.

It’s hard being a parent. Everything about having children changes us and forces us to change in ways we never imagined. Some of the changes have been good for me, but some of them have been absolutely agonizing. I’ve been forced to recognize things I wish I could have forgotten forever.

Before having children, I knew that something was wrong inside. There were always parts of my past that I couldn’t remember and I never really felt connected to my childhood. I knew that I’d endured sexual abuse by multiple family members, physical abuse from my father and the sudden death of the only person I ever felt safe with. For those reasons, I tried not to think back to childhood very often in life.

There is something about the past though. Even if you lock it in boxes, seal it in concrete and throw it into the ocean, it eventually becomes buoyant again.

If it weren’t for my children, I would likely still be running away from the more difficult parts of my past. I know that being a parent brought out in me the things I refused to look at when I was only living for myself. Having to take care of a human being so completely dependent on you after so many years of only taking care of yourself is shocking to the system.

Most days, I don’t feel like I’m a great mother. I don’t even feel like a good mother. I spend a lot of time in my own world. My energy is low and most evenings after work, I don’t want to do anything. I feel bad about every decision I make. Sometimes I have panic attacks and nightmares. They’ve asked questions about the self-harm scars on my arms; scars that I’ve tried to pass off as scratches.

None of it feels like good parenting, and it’s hard not to think that if I just tried a little harder then I wouldn’t be like this. I’ve had days when I feel like having children was one of the stupidest, most selfish things I could have done.

It’s hard to be available to others when you’re having a hard time managing your own life. I feel jaded and tired. Too exhausted to remember how to love, or how to be loved. I worry that I have damaged them beyond repair and often think that their lives would be so much better without me in it. It seems the kindest thing, freeing them from the burden of growing up with a mother who is like this.

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it feels….

Something inside feels broken. Something inside is missing. It hasn’t even been an entire day and yet, it already feels like he’s been gone forever.

I’m trying not to think about it, because if I think about it all I do is cry.

I saw T yesterday and it felt awful. At first I didn’t say much of anything and then he asked me about my mouth (I got hit in the face playing baseball a couple of weeks ago and have been having some trouble with pain in my teeth). I told him I had to see the dentist later in the day and he asked me to keep him updated. I told him it would be fine. He asked me if I was saying that because that’s how I felt, or because I was not going to text him under any circumstances. ‘Maybe it’s both‘, I replied. ‘Oh, so there are some feelings about what is happening‘ he answered back. That response was all it took.

The next 35 minutes were spent with tears rolling down my face. I told him I was afraid. Afraid that maybe I wouldn’t be able to find him when he was gone. Afraid that he wouldn’t come back. Afraid that I didn’t have enough faith to believe that everything would be okay.

We talked about who I could talk to if I needed someone when he was away. He said with his clients he usually tells them to call the crisis number at the hospital. Then he said he wouldn’t even suggest that to me because it would just make everything worse, having me try to speak to strangers about what was going on. He mentioned my EAP and I thought maybe that would work if things got to an extreme level. Then he mentioned one of his colleagues. He said he would ask her if she would talk to me if I needed to talk to someone but he wouldn’t guarantee it because most requests are denied.

He said he would be thinking about me and looked forward to meeting again real soon. That just made me cry more. Before I knew it, time was up.

I told him I would be fine and that it would be okay. I’m not so sure he believed me. I’m not so sure I believed myself.

Later in the evening he texted me and told me that his colleague would see me if I needed her. He said that all I had to give her was my first name and I wouldn’t have to say anything else on the phone. I told him it would take a lot to call her but thanks for asking.

Today he’s gone. It’s just for a little while, but it feels absolutely terminal. I wonder if I can sleep the next few days away? I’m trying to make some plans, to keep myself occupied while he is away but I’d rather just crawl under the covers and cry.

I hope tomorrow it doesn’t feel so hard. I hope tomorrow the dull ache subsides a little bit. I hope tomorrow I can find him on the inside.

so it begins

Cruise Ship Sailing Into Sunset

Google Images

I see T early this afternoon and then he is officially on holidays starting later today.  At least he was able to fit me in before he left. Otherwise, it would have been closer to three weeks without him. I’m not even sure I want to go. I suppose in some ways I’d rather just avoid the unpleasantness of it all. It feels like such a waste of time to sit there and cry over something as silly as a vacation.

He’s going on a cruise (I didn’t ask, he told me). I don’t know where. It doesn’t matter anyways. The only thing that matters is that he will be gone and he will also officially be out of phone, text and e-mail contact. That’s never happened before. Even when he went to Italy for a month last year I could send him text messages if I needed to and he would respond to me.

Not this time though. I found out on Friday that he would be unavailable for contact and I instantly burst into tears.

How will I know? I asked him
How will you know what? he wondered
How will I know that you’re still there?

T says maybe I need to learn to have a little faith (even though it might feel impossible for me to do so). Faith that he’ll do what he says. Faith that he cares about me even when we aren’t together. Faith that he’ll come back as long as it’s within his power to do so.

Faith is a belief that is not based on proof. It is hope or trust. How does one have faith that things will okay when it doesn’t feel like there is anything left inside to remind you of what okay feels like?

wishing Sunday was a repeat of Saturday

I’m glad this was the last weekend (until next year anyways) where we’re supposed to celebrate our parents and all the wonderful things they’ve done for us. It’s hard to be grateful for the people who caused, and in some cases are still causing, so much of the pain in your life.

I feel like a broken record but sometimes life just nails you in all directions. So this weekend (and a few days before it), rather than reading and posting and being exceptionally negative, I pretty much avoided all forms of social media because I wasn’t feeling much like connecting with anyone.

On Saturday, I took the boys to the beach. I’ve been waiting months to go back and it didn’t disappoint although I must admit that Lake Superior this time of year weighs heavily on the absolutely freezing cold side of the temperature scale. The boys didn’t seem to mind though (I think they just might have some issues) and spent most of the 5 hours in the water.

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The beach is one of my absolute favourite places to go when life feels too overwhelming to keep it together. I can be with the people I want to be with and I’m not forced to interact and have conversations I don’t want to be having, there isn’t anyone nagging me about how I’ve done something wrong or should be doing something differently, the voices telling me about how life would be better for everyone if I wasn’t in it sort of die down a bit and the sun and sand calm my soul. The boys can be loud and run and play and just be kids. It’s the perfect way to spend the day.

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Sunday was completely different though, and I woke up with a sense of dread.

Father’s Day! Ugggghhh!

It’s a painful reminder of what I don’t have — not only because my father isn’t here physically, but because my father was an abuser. I struggle to make it through the day without being reminded of some of the worst parts of my childhood. Until the day he died, I was absolutely terrified of him.

Not everyone has a superhero father. Not everyone has a father who loved you unconditionally, who was there no matter what, who had tea parties and comforted you and celebrated with you. Fathers are supposed to be protectors. The ones who should shelter us from bullies, hold us when we’re scared, threaten to beat up the monsters under the bed and tell us they will fix things for us.

Sometimes though, they don’t do the things they are supposed to do for us. Sometimes they not only fail to protect us but hurt us as well. Some fathers are more like villains than superheroes.

For a really long time, I tried to go along with the hype. I wouldn’t say much about the day or how horrible I felt about my father and the things that he did. But, I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t sit here and put up Facebook postings pretending that it’s fine. It doesn’t make things easier really, and in many ways, admitting that I had a not-so-great father and feeling what needs to be felt brings it’s own level of hell to the situation.

This morning I finally went on Facebook. I should have waited another day though because not enough has been posted to wipe away the messages and pictures that others have shared regarding their fathers and husbands. I scrolled through as fast as I could, but you can’t avoid it entirely. And it hurts. It hurts and I can’t change the way that it was.

I once asked T if things got easier once a person who caused so much hurt in your life was dead. He looked at me like I had three heads and said ‘you would probably be better able than anyone to answer that question‘. I guess the answer would be, not always. At least with my father it isn’t. It’s horrible. It’s hell. It’s hell now and it was hell having a father who was physically and emotionally abusive.

separations

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Michael Prosper

It’s hard to write these days. It’s hard to make a sound. I try to speak, but nothing comes out. It feels like no one sees the silent world I live in. Most days it still feels like the safest place to be–eyes cast aside, hands clasped tightly and not making a sound. But the silence is deafening and I want to scream out, anything to break the tension that I feel. My mind is a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions.

I’m trying to figure it all out. I’ve sat with my pencil and book and tried my best to make sense of all the things swirling around in my head. I’ve written letters to T to try to explain how it feels. Most days I feel like I’m not getting anywhere. There is no consistency or linear path that helps me make my way through it all. There’s always something else waiting in the wings, ready to take over for the thought that I allow space for.

What is it like? To know someone is still there? Even when you can’t see them?

T is going to be away soon and it feels like goodbye. I’ve never been good at goodbyes. They always feel terminal. Bad things always happened when people went away. Bad things happened when people didn’t come back. It’s hard to shake that sense of feeling like something bad is always going to happen. T says I feel this way because I don’t feel like people still love people when they aren’t around and that when others I count on leave, it is like they end (not just leave and will return).

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magazine stories

Sometimes, when writing feels too hard and talking is absolutely out of the question, I’ll cut words and pictures out of magazines and turn them into a story.

Here’s one from awhile ago (it still feels so relevant to today):

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not mine

It’s hard to talk. It hurts to breathe. It feels like I have to choose between saying things and breathing. I’m uncertain I can do both. Everything feels too hard and so unfair. I feel desperate and cannot seem to grasp and hold on to any one thought for too long. I feel extremely impatient, worn out and resentful. Nothing feels fine.

This path through life feels hard. I don’t know where it’s heading. I don’t know when it ends. It brings me through strange places with strange people that I can’t always recognize. Nothing feels like it’s where it is supposed to be. Something always hurts.

Around and around and around it goes. Hurt……Anger….Fear…..Numb……Hurt…..Anger….Fear…..Numb. I am so tired of it all. I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t ask for this life.

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an uninvited guest (that I finally invited)

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I have a problem. And if I’m being totally honest, I would have to say that I don’t just have one problem, but more like a herd of them. It’s definitely some giant obstacles preventing me from getting places sometimes.

I’m referring to elephants. In particular, the elephants that often join me in my therapy sessions. There have been the rare instances that I’ve invited them to come along with me. Most of the time though, they show up completely uninvited, daring me to make them visible. I’m pretty sure T knows they are there, but he never pressures them to come out of hiding.

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it’s a puddingstone

T gave me a rock to try to help me remember him. But it’s not just any rock, it’s a puddingstone and a Jasper conglomerate to be specific.

It’s just the right size to fit into my pocket. T said it wasn’t smooth like I had mentioned but I could get it polished if I wanted to. I don’t want to change it though because it’s from his place and it’s from him. T picked it out for me. If I change it, it won’t be the same anymore.

It’s a little conglomerate composed of a bunch of little pieces that make it whole while still being a little rough around the edges.

It’s perfect just the way it is.

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Jasper conglomerate (St. Joseph Island puddingstone)

 

I am going to learn to be the best at waiting

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Google Images

So, I saw the specialist again today after 6 weeks of waiting. The first few weeks were utterly exhausting–waiting to find out if I had cancer, multiple blood tests, microbiology tests and being told by my family doctor he had no idea what was going on and basically leaving me without any answers at all. After the first few weeks though, once I found out I didn’t have cancer, I think I put the rest of it out of my mind.  Continue reading