Together, We Belong

My boys are still young enough that they are more interested in what feels good and right than what hurts and upsets. I love that they are always asking about our next plans with Favorite and Sweet Greg. Even when we have just said good bye to them, my sons are asking when we will see them next.

The sense of belonging they experience with them, is priceless. I suspect my boys recognize, but cannot yet grasp how they are so deeply loved and welcomed without condition– free from weird, dirty, secret emotional contracts.

My boys know, without doubt, they can call and go to F and SG for anything– always, no matter what. The emotional safety and security is greater there, I am guessing, than anywhere else in their little lives. Those bonds are not only squeaky clean, but also free from the rigors of parent/child conflict and stress. Favorite and Sweet Greg are always interested, available, and fully effing (mind blowingly so) present for all of the words and feelings– and the fun too.

Thank you Favorite and Sweet Greg for being sources of genuine and undeniable togetherness. Your lack of malice and ill-will for their father, in spite of what you hear and witness, is brilliant and healing. What a gift to US. Your loyalty to me does not require you to hate him, and I think that serves us all, quite well. The burden lavished upon my children by their father and “his people” is heart-breaking—but manageable, because of you. Thank you for being consistent and plentiful wellsprings of emotional safety.

Much Love,
Magda Gee

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The Exact Right Words

When you are raised having your words and feelings ignored, dismissed, challenged and twisted to be used against you, you may, as I did, dedicate much time to seeking the exact right words (once realizing volume and profanity do not work in your favor, ever) to express a thing so that you may be heard. Not realizing that the people to whom you are speaking have no intention of hearing you, and need, at a cellular level, to not hear you. Because knowing a thing, means (for most of us) having responsibility to take informed action.

There is a very consistent pattern and dynamic in households where generations of those affected by addiction are in control: A difficult or uncomfortable thing gets said but not acknowledged, and if you say it again, you are accused of nagging(not moving on) and then questioned: Why are you still saying that? If the thing is expressed with emotion, your tone gets policed while the content is discounted. That situation made me a lunatic, first with the people to whom I am related— and then in a marriage to a man who is wired identically to my relatives.

Relatives is the word I have now connected with, to identify those to whom I am linked genetically. It felt awkward calling them “my family” because of the clear lack of connection and regard I experienced with them. Saying “family” felt like a lie, a pretense. Also the word love felt similarly. “I love you” was routinely said before bed and for goodbye. But by my definition of love, which says that– love sees you, hears you and protects you, unconditionally- we did not love each other. That is not a type of love I experienced with my relatives and ex-husband. Ever. And it made perfect sense when I said “I love you” in my troubled relationships before recovery because I used the phrase according to how I had learned to love and be loved. I 100% loved my husband the same way I loved my relatives. And he loved me as they did—it was painful for all of the days in which I refused or was unable to pretend…most of the days. We all agreed if I could just be different, we could be fine and happy and together. Like a family.

I infrequently tell Sweet Greg that I love him (Because of my 40 years of shitty broken “love” with chemically dependent and emotionally stunted people(no resentment there. ha!)) What Greg and I have and do is different, deserving of a another word. Also, I refuse to call Greg my boyfriend. Not only because that word got ruined, but because I am old AF, not 12, and he is much more than a BF. I don’t say partner, because that feels awkward and to me, implies that we live together or that we are gay. He is just My Sweet Greg. And calling him my companion sounds as if he is paid or like we are in our 70s. There are no right words!

Even the word “boyfriend” was uncomfortable in referring to men whom, for years, I tethered myself. Because I noted other women enjoying thoughtful, kind love, joy, gifts and fun from dedicated boyfriends. I would label the man in my life my boyfriendy-type-person (BTP), which would at least make me laugh. I had come to believe that if I were verrrrrrry lucky, I miiiiight be able to find one man who would tolerate, ignore me, sleep, and share meals with me, forevvvver. I hoped to be so lucky.

I recall my last conversation with my mother, in which she demanded I get over the betrayal(which she insisted did not happen(ironically while it was still happening)) and just come to dinner like a member of the family. I responded to her by saying: “There was a time when I would share beds and meals with people who treat me as if I am unworthy and naughty. That time has passed. I have changed and that will not work. ” I got up to leave and she said; “I wish you well, Maggie”. I let myself out and she locked the door behind me and those were our final words, as I knew they would be. She and my sister continued to circumvent our issues at the expense of my children’s peace by meeting as a family(by their definition) with my ex and our children therefore knowingly dividing us as co-parents, probably forever. Hate is a very strong word…but in this case feels the closest I can get, to naming the feeling I have for what they do to my boys’ parents in order to meet their own needs. They are winning the war of their design and choosing, while my boys lose.

We are related, only by the co-incidence of my birth. Whatever is felt for me, is nothing that has ever been healthy for me. The behaviors and choices of my mother and her family are about them, reflective of their values, beliefs, and way of being in the world, AND not a reflection of my worth or lovability. They are her family, my relatives. And it is plain to see how they would appreciate an emotional similar-ness to my ex-husband and his divided scapegoated family.

Al-Anon has introduced me to new language and experiences of: myself, others, faith, wholesome love, kindness, family, belonging, boundaries, connection, self-esteem, service, detachment, and serenity. I have experienced each of these, for the first time, in this program of recovery, and never with my relatives. Repair or repeat. For nearly 10 of my 50 years, I have been working slowly to repair what I hope to not repeat.

Love is not easy or without pain and struggle but it, I believe, to be benevolent, a promise, and a commitment.

Much Love,
Magda Gee

For shorter, more frequent and fun posts, connect with me on Instagram by clicking the pic- Wholesomebadass. https://www.instagram.com/wholesomebadass/

On Being Psycho

Happy Valentines Day, y’all ♥️

My favorite part of my relationships is the laughing endlessly, together, over exactly how unreasonable we can be, at times, complete lunatics, incapable of acting or thinking right. 

Sometimes being reasonable is not possible and that is ok, because we can acknowledge that, learn from it and laugh like crazy while being merciful with ourselves and each other, as we call out our own disturbing behaviors and thinking. It is not possible to move on and to heal from things without first acknowledging them. Having a loving witness is key.

If we were to pretend we were perfect, we would miss out on getting to know and grow ourselves. 

Honesty is the height of intimacy— the only real perfection and the truest form of strength and kindness. Strength is not in denying or hiding pain and struggle, but being with them, willing to be taught by them, while being able to laugh at ourselves, our imperfections.

For the record, I do not consider myself a psycho but do admit to behaving like a deranged person—on many occasions. I think actual psychos are the ones who cannot consider that they have moments of behaving from a place of being unhinged and terrified ….because they do not even recognize it as problematic and are unable to contemplate having behaved badly.

Much Love,
Magda Gee

For shorter, more frequent and fun posts, connect with me on Instagram by clicking the pic- Wholesomebadass. https://www.instagram.com/wholesomebadass/

The Things We are Learning

“My family upbringing lacked courtesy, respect, calm responses, and forgiveness. It has taken me years to learn how to pause, reflect and choose a more loving response. For years I allowed an (unwell person) alcoholic to use their weapons of anger and anxiety to provoke me. I didn’t understand the dance or merry go round.” (from my sponsor in today’s meeting…I adore her)

To have the opportunity to mature emotionally and spiritually, and to heal, to unlearn, to create a better experience, is nothing short of a miracle. Learning to be gentle and to remember my intent, is hard as hell. I lack desire to win or silence another. I want to connect, serve, heal, and grow together with my people. But often, when I am overwhelmed, particularly in parenting, my natural reactive instinct is to attempt to win/dominate, in order to get a handle on things. I am not fixed, but I am so much better because of the shitty marriage which led me to the rooms of Al-Anon. Without it, I shudder to imagine the type of mother I might have been.

There is a word for IT, a name for the cycle and legacy of twisted perceptions and troubled relationships. There are places to go (meetings) and people who want to hear, share, heal from the family disease of addiction. It affects everyone, even the pets.

It is shameful and heart breaking to recall how I went from building my life around my angel of a dog “King Simon”, to, after marriage, wanting to have him put to sleep, when his needs (which had not changed) seemed too much for me. It required everything I had to manage life with a man, who was icy cold for days, sometimes weeks at a time, returning to warm and friendly without explanation. It was as if I were expected to respond like a faithful dog–eagerly awaiting, unquestioningly at the door, to be allowed to return, for touching, playing, and closeness. I gag to recall.

I am not wired that way. I am a deep feeler, feeling it all, unable to limit myself to feel only the things he wanted me to feel. My inability to remain vulnerable under those conditions has been collectively labelled as “holding a grudge”. It is actually just being too confused by and scared of a person, to feel closeness. I recall regularly trying to explain that I can not be terrified, angry, ashamed and horny all at once. For me, those things do not happen together. This dynamic mimics my experience in my family–not the horny part, though there was unwanted touching and closeness. Gagging again.

I had been groomed to believe that OUR only problems were my thin skin and my inability to just move on. My reaction of being hurt was the issue, not the harmful words, silences, behaviors. Recovery taught me that I was responding to pain and fear by feeling frightened and hurt.

It is not my job to feel less and to pretend as if things are ok. For as long as I am willing to pretend things are ok, they will never be ok. Healing has divided me permanently from those who refuse change. Healthy boundaries have rendered it impossible for us to be together. Yes, it runs in the family, generations of unhealed pain. And it stops here. I will heal, so that I may not hand IT directly to my children.

I see both in my ex’s family and my own, the ones who feel more and speak more get picked off. Those who feel less or learn to numb the pain and ignore, become favored and develop a sense of righteous entitlement. While the feelers, the canaries in the coal mines, are cast out.

Of my two sons, I have a deep feeler, one who feels all of the things and one who appears to be affected only, by not getting his way. He is readily able to ignore, pretend, and move on as if a thing has never happened or mattered. I worry for them…coming from parents who have siblings who differ in these ways and who remain terminally estranged. We learn what we live. It is time to learn and live differently.

Much Love,
Magda Gee

For shorter, more frequent and fun posts, connect with me on Instagram by clicking the pic- Wholesomebadass. https://www.instagram.com/wholesomebadass/

Say Yikes and Move On!

“I set boundaries today, in good faith, with anyone who disregards my thoughts or feelings. Disregarding and disrespecting are different from disagreeing.” (wise words of my sponsor, in today’s meeting)

People pleaser, Pollyanna, Martyr (PPM) types behave as if openly and honestly disagreeing, is disrespectful and they tend to respond with entitled, but passive aggressive retalliation toward those whom they perceive as challenging or confronting. PPMs have not yet learned to accept differing needs and experiences. With them, honest communication is not possible. They simply do not know how. They tend to opt for a full on war (in which there are no rules) over an open dialog which requires fairness and honestly speaking and listening to challenging differences. For optional relationships, I have been advised to just say YIKES, and move on.

For non-optional relationships, setting firm boundaries around my right and responsibility to be treated(and to behave) with dignity and kindness, has been an edifying experience, allowing the bully to cook their own goose(while sparing me from the intense and habitual desire to tell them about themselves, in ways which make me feel bad about myself). Hostile reactions to healthy boundaries, reveal their true nature, but only to those courageous enough to look closely. Have courage. Look closely.

Choose genuine kindness and authenticity. Always. This is what I am learning and trying to model for my sons. One day at a time. Kindness, boundaries, healthy conflict resolution, detachment. All new and unfamiliar ways of being.

Much Love,
Magda Gee

For shorter, more frequent and fun posts, connect with me on Instagram by clicking the pic- Wholesomebadass. https://www.instagram.com/wholesomebadass/

Educated by Tara Westover

I am on my second go-round of this riveting and relatable memoir, as it is generously providing words for thoughts which previously, I felt unable to put together for myself. To say that Tara Westover’s life was brutal, unbearable, would be an understatement. And still, I feel something not unlike coveting, for her. In addition to the abuse and dysfunction, the Westovers share a rich rural culture, deep religious conviction and practices, and the work of a family business– the family is bound by much more than coincidence of birth, a shared roof, and mental illness. Tara and two of her brothers experience trusting, protective, and lifelong closeness.

Additionally, she is able to discover a joy and talent for singing, learning, reading, and writing, which allow her life to become defined by more than what happened within the family. I often feel as if my rejection and abuse define me, because I really do not recall much more– like it is all I know of myself and my family. Recovery teaches me that I am not what happened to me. I am what I am willing to learn from it. Below are a few, not necessarily, fluid or cohesive thoughts, motivated by the words of Tara Westover, some of which incorporate chunks of words taken directly from her.

I came to see that the truth is this: It was not that I had done something wrong(although I have done many wrong things), so much as that I existed in the wrong way. There was something impure in the fact of my being. There is something different about me and that something, those differences are very bad, unforgivable–wrong at a cellular level. I am a bad daughter, a traitor, and my silence and compliance are the least I should offer– and I will do, not even that.

Not knowing for certain what was true and real, still, I refused to give way to those whom claimed certainty, and presented themselves as the gatekeepers of truth and history. I often thought that shame and alienation were results or byproducts of the conflict, and now I see how those served as both the purpose and motivation. Cruel things said and done were aimed at exactly those outcomes and delivered fortification and pleasure to those whose camaraderie rested on the shared need to reduce me, to gain submission OR to make me pay.

It was of comfort to believe that the defectiveness was exclusively mine, because this allowed me to hope that it was under my power to make US be healed. I wanted to believe that. The family system needed also for me to believe this. When I stopped believing and trying to do the impossible, when they could gain no traction from my reactions, it was OVER, in first my family and then my marriage.

When my own mother consistently refused to listen to or hear me, it made me stop listening to and believing myself. This is surely a contributor to the feckless belligerence, the profanity and the volume, my desperate and reactive attempts to be acknowledged, listened to. Sadly, we know too well that this insane behavior is readily dismissed and steals the show. Leaving witnesses fixated on only the unfortunate reaction to the thing which everyone refuses to speak of.

It both pains and liberates me to recognize that what a person knows and believes of a person, place, or thing, without first-hand experience, is limited exclusively to what they are told by others.

Much Love,
Magda Gee

For shorter, more frequent and fun posts, connect with me on Instagram by clicking the pic- Wholesomebadass. https://www.instagram.com/wholesomebadass/