Were my parents horrible? We were a horrible fit. Being less sensitive, more concerned with pleasing them may have helped. Instead, I sought gracelessly, if not pathetically, a quiet gentle place, low sensory input food and comfort, in massive quantities, along with compassion, and nurturing from those responsible for me. And, overall, it was an effing disaster. 100% I am not a disaster. That situation
was is a disaster.
Alienation from family goes back as early as I can remember- for my failure to be a more comfortable child, which was judged as being difficult and over time developed into an inferno of anger. I recall no observable acts of nurturing or comforting, seeking to understand, only a collective effort to make it(my inconvenient and unattractive feelings) fucken stop; shame, banish, gossip, shun. These tactics did nothing– but teach me that I was unworthy of unconditional love, comfort, and connection and that it was ok to behave this way to people who are different, struggling, needing, or in any way threatening.
If crushing me into more manageable pieces was the plan, my older sister and maternal grandmother eagerly followed mother’s suit and at times would grace me with kindness, provided I was not noticeably distressed. This intergenerational dysfunction, stops with me. I choose break the cycle (and therefore ties – their choice)—for my sons. It was so confusing to be “accepted” when I appeared ok and banished when I wasn’t and devastating to have not cracked the code on this until much later in life. I did learn in college to write letters pretending to be happy because I started to see how it worked but I couldn’t manage in their presence to be relaxed and calm and just lighten the fuck up, no matter how many times I was asked. I handled everything poorly. It was all too much, made no sense, and made me want to die..literally.
In parenting my own children, I am intentional in learning, practicing and sharing healthy boundaries–so that they may experience the reality that we are separate, and very much connected, no matter what. They can count on me and on each other. We take care of one another, intentionally working together to meet our own and each other’s needs. We are ALL unique individuals, valued and worthy, exactly as we are on any given day. I tell them this and I follow through by living a life that says so. For them to feel safe, secure, grounded, supported, confident enough to unapologetically explore the gifts of who they are, what they like, what they are good at, what they are interested in–THESE are my only parenting goals. To choose courage, kindness, and each other first- good and loyal brothers and citizens. They belong first to each other and then to me.
I have been saved by a spiritual program, sparing my children much of the trauma that I surely would have unknowingly handed right to them. They watch and learn as I struggle with the depression and grief of my FOO. They recognize the unkind and hurtful nature of the unwholesome alliance between my sister and ex. In addition to the loss of innocence, the unfortunate triangulation has cost them a genuine desire to know people who DESPERATE to love them, and whose definition of love does not appeal to them. We choose kindness….and acknowledge, as with a rattle snake, you give unkindness space.
We don’t have to judge unkindness and we cant change it for others, but we can go where love is wholesome. Wholesome Love is unconditionally kind, to people, animals, and the planet. Obviously we are all human and often fail in all ways, at times-and then amend. BUT kindness is the value and standard in our family life. We are mindful of the difference between kindness and friendliness. It is possible to be one with out the other. My sister and I are brilliant examples of each.
I now possess the super power to say difficult things, without being mean or loud and also to know when my voice is not welcome. I can listen to difficult things, without reacting destructively…and I can be ok. But, I cannot allow myself to be demeaned or to pretend and then relax and enjoy a meal with those who diminish me.
In our family, the one I design, we show up for hard conversations, we listen, we ask questions, we forgive and we apologize. My boys are witness to my tears, mistakes, amends, and triumphs. They know me and believe in me….and that makes my heart literally swell with joy and ache with grief. I cannot imagine expereincing that as a child.
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