Thank You for Letting Me Go

Thanks for letting me go.  Nearly 5 decades chasing or running from you–was no way to live and no longer how I understand and do love. 

Recovery teaches us— Love is kind, direct, courageous, enduring, transparent, nurturing, loyal, and unconditional.  Wholesome Good Love is a commitment, rather than just a feeling.  Finally, disentangled from my placeholders for love, I now experience and treasure loving connections in healthy relationships.  When we know better, we do better.

I am grateful for freedom from those who threaten, shame, gossip about or banish me.  #thatisnotlove There will always be people who choose those to do those things, only, now, I no longer confuse them for loving people. To be clear, I learned what I lived and brought unwholesome and deeply damaging behaviors and ways of being into the world with me– but I have been healing and changing, one day at a time for nearly 10 years. Unlearning takes time. My recovery is a process not an event.

Today in church I realized, with a feeling not unlike like pride, that my life now flows from Good Orderly Direction.  I no longer make choices out of shame, fear, or guilt—where previously, those posed as my gods and guides, my constant companions.

That I do not GAF what others think, is not at all the case—just that the opinions of others do neither inspire nor frighten me.  I do my life and people either like me, hire me, make friends with me… or they do not.  Fear of rejection, retaliation, and reprisal–this is not a dynamic to which I will consent, now as an adult with a choice and children–who are watching and learning.  

Much Love,
Magda Gee

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Freedom from THE Shame

Things that once caused me shame:

  • My thin awkward body and brownish (non-white) skin
  • My name–the one assigned to me at birth
  • My inability to calm down and focus on what matters (Also– I did not know what mattered–as evidenced by this list)
  • My father’s “foreign” accent
  • My nose
  • The size of my feet
  • The food my family served
  • The clothes I was provided
  • My sensitivity and emotional intensity
  • My limited tastes and preferences in food along with my insatiable appetite
  • Being non-Christian
  • That we did not enjoy and connect to each other the way other families appeared to– the undeniable void of pleasant rituals, activities, and traditions

Shame over matters, which I did not choose and over which I had no control, caused a fuck-ton of grief, anger– and isolation from my family and a community, which never let me forget all the ways in which  I FAILED to be like them–acceptable.

I sought unfortunate means of soothing and coping with things I could neither change nor accept.  I raged with profanity at just about everything.  I could not grasp or manage my anger and despair and did not experience anyone as interested and able to help me with those.  I learned to be mean AF, to shoplift and steal.  I dove into the relief of binging and purging, from age 12 to well into my 30s.  I purchased items which I did not need and could not afford, in an effort to feel or appear more like others.  I abused alcohol and drugs and was sexually promiscuous with people who did not even like me.  Believing, if I could not make them like or accept me, getting them to use me was a win.  Then, at least, I was not useless. I see now that useful and used are not the same.

It is said that a good childhood leaves you with both roots and wings.  I developed my roots and wings in Al-Anon at age 40.  The program teaches me how to let go of shame over the past, to make right what I can and to now, live my life aligned with principles, allowing me the gift of self esteem. It is true that when we know better we do better.  I am ever grateful for 10 years of better living.  It would be beyond tragic to be this age, and still behaving in those ways.

Without models to whom I could relate or whom I genuinely wanted to emulate, I was lost. To act and to feel right, with zero sense of connection and purpose–was impossible for me.

Program allows me to not only see but to intentionally examine my behaviors and motives and to let go of the idea that I can fully understand those of another. Recovery teaches me to behave well, long before I feel so. Often, the feelings will follow. But– if I wait until I feel a certain kind of good, before making a wholesome good choice, I am screwed. I do not feel so good, most of the time, and yet I make choices which I feel good about, choices which reflect who I am and what I believe.

It is also said that happiness is– when your words, actions, and beliefs are in alignment. I suppose, by this measure, I am happy.

I share all of this to say –that none of those things cause me shame. And the same goes for the things done, by me, to cope with the items on that list. They can not be used to shame or harm me. They are not secrets. They are less pretty parts of my journey. I will make no effort to hide or deny. This is true and beautiful freedom.

Here are things about which I feel good and for which I am responsible:

I survived a difficult childhood, which naturally was followed by a sick marriage. I chose to exit a bad marriage and survived a lengthy and litigious divorce. My ex and I moved back, cross country, to a place and to people I swore I’d never return, to support my mother. I worked with my boy’s father to do what was needed for our family, in spite of so very much. I am in recovery. I am a loving and protective mother, a fantastic friend and great partner to my Sweet Greg. I am generous. I am transparent with good boundaries around what I will and will not do. My work ethic and loyalty are strong AF. I am a caring neighbor and pet-haver/servant (I prefer not to say owner). I am a badass when it comes to trying, even when all I really want to do is flip out, give up, or blame. I am kind (not friendly, but kind) and honest, at all costs. I am benevolent and have a God of My Understanding AND I can now (mostly- unless you mess with my children though….) maintain benevolence toward a person whom I dislike or with whom I disagree–even when they do me harm. I will not lie to, for, or about a person. If you know me, I am 100% exactly who you think I am.

Much Love,
Magda Gee

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Liz Earnshaw Quote: One of the strongest forces in the world is a family resisting change.

Cycle Breaking–and the Fall Out

From Liz Earnshaw (Click anywhere on this post to read more from her): There is a phenomenon in families known as homeostasis (really, in any group of people , but I’ll stick to families here).

Families seek to maintain the “organization” they’re accustomed to. They are driven to maintain functioning as it’s always been – whether the functioning is good or bad.

When the status quo is interrupted then other members cannot function “smoothly” – I.e. when you change or set a boundary then they can no longer run on their same hamster wheel and that means they have to figure out how else to run and most people don’t feel up to finding new ways to do things… so instead they fight you… hard… to get back on their hamster wheel.

This is one of the biggest reasons people end up giving up on their boundaries or their new way of being in relation to their families – the fight a family puts up against your change is POWERFUL.

It can result in being cut out, shamed, shunned, gossiped about, threatened, etc, etc. and this is really really hard.

So, if you’re experiencing this you’re not alone. It’s common *and* that doesn’t make it okay. It is still painful and difficult and exhausting.

Continue to focus on your goal of keeping yourself healthy and safe and remind yourself that the power of a family wanting to regain “homeostasis” is strong, but you’re stronger.

Much Love,
Magda Gee

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Better Living

I did not comprehend or grasp anything close to sane thinking before entering into my program of recovery.  After my first Al-Anon meeting, I attended every single 12 step program I could, because my hunger for the 12 Steps and 12 Principles was insatiable.  I was thrilled and awed to discover that there existed, this design for living, which I could accept and apply, to help me change and live my life.  I had not learned how to live– only to survive, and barely.  
I struggled mightily and for years, with the language around God and Higher Power but I listened and wrote and wrote and shared and engaged the topic– until.  My formative experience made no sense to me–it was godless, hopelessly dark, faithless, merciless and sometimes manic.  Like– whenever the pain and punishment abated for any amount of time, I would feel frenzied by the notion that things were suddenly and forever all better.  I was baffled and deeply disturbed by how things seemed to change swiftly and drastically in our home.  I recognize now, that the only things that ever actually changed, were the moods of people with whom I lived and on whom I counted.  It was volatile, scary, sad, angry.  I learned and became what I lived.

Getting to replace the changing rules and moods with the static principles of 12 Step Recovery, to guide me , was the beginning of my journey into sane living. My hope is that my boys will find/seek a force or presence to count on, one which is humble—not human, vain, depressed, moody, or addicted to anything. As we continue to attend church and share doubts and discomforts about certain lessons and conversations, I remind them that we do not attend church in order to become convinced or “religious”. We are there to join with others who wish to learn and practice living in ways which are more meaningful and less self-seeking and self-serving.

It is no matter how much we believe or agree with all of IT(certain stories from the bible). What we can believe and count on, I hope, is that to allow ourselves to be directed by faith, kindness, honesty, service, humility, courage, and mercy will lead us to and through our best lives.

Much Love,
Magda Gee

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Sweet Mercy

I am beyond excited for my upcoming and long awaited appointment to finish my back-piece tattoo, a sprawling octopus which we began more than a year ago. I am hoping that time will permit another tattoo of the word mercy on my left inner arm. Mercy is a thing, to which I am dedicating much thought as I seek to make peace in my heart, peace, which does not require this elusive thing called forgiveness- for people who are not sorry for doing and saying the unforgivable, and who show no sign of intent to stop. I want to be merciful. To extend mercy seems the most wholesome badass thing I can imagine, at this moment. In this dynamic, it remains unclear how I may do this while insulating myself from the merciless? To be merciful with them, feels impossible. Maybe I surrender the hope of working together with a man who has no mercy for his own children- a man who has always placed his ego and emotional needs before those of our young sons.

For my birthday, I think I experienced a glimpse of mercy. Mercy, by definition, is “unmerited by the wrongdoer”. Having mercy means I accept that hurt people hurt people and then, just maybe loosen my grip on the proverbial nooses which I hold around their necks— as it is not possible for me to hold a noose and to remain spiritually clean and free. It is hurtful to me, to even indulge in noosey thoughts and attitudes–Doing so, makes me merciless. Since it is not possible to hurt myself without also negatively affecting those who love and count on me, I must change.

When my ex reported to me loss of his job this week, amazingly, my first instinct was one of compassion/concern, because he is nothing, if not proud AND this will affect our boys. I am keenly aware that hardship for him translates to hardship for our children, therefore I can and do not want that for him/them. I briefly contemplated sharing with him, how my Sweet Greg was recently let go and that Bestie’s husband was also cut loose from his job. Both were shocked but managed to move forward with ease and grace. Clearly–it happens to the best. But– I did not offer this information. I was kind and civil and stopped there–telling him only that I was sorry and would do what I could to help. Old me would wanted to say something cutting and spiteful–to be merciless and punitive— “serves you right, asshole”. I did not. Miracle: that this was my second thought, and not my first.

Our sons’ happiest moments are those in which their parents worked and ate together as a family, post divorce. I feel that mercy is our only hope for a return to that. I want nothing to do with him, for so long as he triangulates with my sister and willingly involves our boys. It’ll be interesting to see how my striving to behave mercifully will be challenged by holiday antics, which leave my children unnecessarily in the midst of complicated and painful bullshit. I told the boys that I would like for them to to be with me for Thanksgiving at Bestie’s with Greg, BUT that– if their father has no known plans, they must offer to cook and eat and celebrate with him—as nobody deserves to feel alone and without family, especially during the holidays. This shift is nothing short of miraculous. Truly.

I long for the day, when it might be appropriate, prudent, and good to invite my ex to join in our precious framily traditions. Bestie and Greg support this inspite of what they have witnessed. They support healing and our family– unselfishly and unconditionally. Does having mercy for my ex and our boys require placing myself in a position to be hurt by one who knowingly chooses behaviors which result in harm to US? If so, I am not there, yet. I am a work in progress.

Much Love,
Magda Gee

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My Saddest Day

I have lived many sad years, decades actually. Life, even on the most special of days, has been that, for me. So, when asked what is my saddest day, I had to take time to think. My saddest day was maybe the day I knowingly married someone who “loved” me as my family had hated me. I wished I could say it was the passing of either of my parents. That would be a lovely way to feel–to have known the great pain of losing of someone by whom I felt fiercely loved and to whom I believed myself to be strongly connected. My parents were not that for me. My father made it clear I was not like “everyone” else (He was mostly referring to whiteness, christianness, and southernness). And my mother and sister made sure to remind me of all the ways which I failed to be like them. There was no safe place for me. Nowhere felt good.

I guess, my saddest day ever, was the day my sons phoned me from their dad’s car, with their Aunt, whose hostile and divisive maneuvers can be explained by (but not excused) her decades of untreated addiction. It was my younger son’s birthday weekend and I had agreed to let the boys stay with their father for a Sunday dinner which, according to our legal arrangement, would have been with me.

My sons(who were typically not encouraged to call or connect with me while with their father), called to report that they were returning from dinner with my mother and sister (with whom I was not on speaking terms). The sound which emerged from me, after putting the phone down, was one which I have not made before or since. I do not have any words to communicate the feeling. There are no words to effectively describe the reaction to this level of what to me, seemed betrayal of demonic proportions.

A dinner table arranged for and by people who are angry with me, posing as a celebration for my son, and which I knew nothing of- before the call. The lie they told my children— that I had been invited and chosen not to go. The response to my email asking why they would do such a divisive thing– offering no reason, just an assassination of my character with my mother, my nieces, my ex, and his sister copied. What the fuck?!

My ex and I had worked miracles to move cross country together, as a family–so that I could help my mother and he could purchase a home of his own. In that one foul play, our work of healing was set a blaze. Ashes. Whatever it was that bonded my sister to my ex, was more important than the solidarity of healthy co-parenting, which I believe my sons deserve. The loss of that is immeasurable. The grief of what has been snatched from my sons, is typically too much to bear. I cannot get over it. It is not over. Every difficult situation and decision for them is faced and made without the blessing of parents joined for the common cause of the children’s well being. That colluding and collaboration guaranteed the impossibility of shared purpose required to work together, raising healthy children with a solid sense of belonging and connection and truth. What a mess. My children were never happier than when mom and dad sat at tables together with them and for them. Gone. Poof!

My program of recovery helps me to manage myself while in the middle of this. While I cannot fix it, I can follow program wisdom and not make it worse by expecting or demanding healing and closure with people who behave in these ways–knowingly imposing struggle, hardship, and loss.

Today in church, sin was defined for us— as a behavior which infringes negatively on another’s freedom, any choice which knowingly causes hardship for others. I have previously referred to this as unwholesome, by my own definition, and am comforted by a deeper understanding of sin. Choosing the spiritual path requires a sacrificing for others not OF others….the constant choice to do what I ought to do v. what I want to do. Anything with strong emotional appeal is typically driven by our own will, ego, envy, vanity, selfish ambition, and hunger. These are things I surrender to remain on the path and in the direction of God. That is my wish. That is my recovery and my miracle–having a path and a God.

The pastor asked us to contemplate the question(in times when we are feeling the strong emotional appeal of doing or having a thing): “What does love require of me?”. To be clear, I interpret this to mean God’s love and spirituality, not approval and the pleasure of myself and others. I see how most of my life was driven by distorted perceptions of love and connection. Because of my distorted perception and my lack of wholesome guidance and direction, my choices and attitudes were rooted in selfish and defective thinking. I had no path, only my reactions and faulty beliefs, to guide me. That is how I navigated and endured 40 years of god-less life.

In one million years, I would not have imagined a biblical quote might be something of comfort and relevance to me–or that I might savor or share. Without the sermon, to help me understand the sentiment of this, these would be just words, weird bibley words for only the christiany people.

But THIS from Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

In the church we attend, which I have heard my boys refer to as “our church”, it is continually said, that ours is a church in which you get to belong, before you believe. How amazing is that? Belonging and belief in and to something greater than ourselves—these are necessities. My boys have had removed from them, an experience based and unshakeable belief in loyalty and faithfulness of family. What will they believe? That it is ok to collaborate and triangulate against each other. ??? They have no reason to think otherwise. It is the norm on all sides of their families.

Much Love,
Magda Gee

For shorter, more frequent and fun posts, connect with me on Instagram- wholesomebadass