#2 Back to my “roots”… the internal child

So there was the upset, the grief (and the stages that come along with it) I expressed in prior, the night I was in the garage coming to terms with my emotions when the question was like a blinding light light “WHY ARE YOU MISSING HIM”? The “pity party” was over, I faced being accountable for my responsibility in the choices I made (this is a HUGE step to healing btw…), now understanding this, I had to understand “why”. I began by putting my life slowing into rewind, like watching a movie in my mind travelling back through the years… here’s what surfaced…

PRESENT : I chose an absolutely, toxic last partner, it was an immediate insane powerful connection and last first date. Ignored multiple red flags and slowly began living at the expense of my self confidence, worth, crippling financial cost (to me alone) and all the while, my daughters watching, experiencing. I chose this over an over. Prior to that, another very broken, damaged man, again, multiple serious issues, that I tried to “fix”, another horrible financial loss – “loans” provided at the word of pay back, offered with trust.. at my ultimate detriment. I know I am somehow powerfully drawn to “strong” male personalities, dominant, almost starving for them to decide my worth, their approval, if not – clearly I was a failure and unworthy. My family was aware of all, even the fear that I may lose my life/go missing, I texted my brothers advising if I ever went missing (during the first break up – it was “him”. Neither replied. My parents knew all – at the “first” ending, they were horrified, despised him, were relived I was getting out, they too feared for my safety, however, niether one, spoke up to him. The only way I have ever felt self worth, upon reflection, was being someones partner. I had never, ever, not had a boyfriend. I didnt know how to enjoy or understand how to feel content, just “being”.

MARRIAGE : We were married for 19 years. I accepted that I married for security, the man my parents were happy about, who could “take care of me”, make me feel on solid ground. The “good” choice. I did love him, we had two beautiful daughters, he was a wonderful provider. But, we were never friends, we never had the same interests, we needed others to have any fun with, we stopped listening to each other. Due to circumstance, I became a caregiver to him, a Mom to the girls, aside from paying bills, the entire home and lives of the girls were my responsibility. I spent the last 8 years of marriage sleeping in my own bedroom, in the basement, painfully lonely without any identity left of who I once was. My family knew the life I had lived all those years, witnessed a few times where he belittled or put me down in public, never spoke up to defend or protect me. Worse, I never spoke up to validate mysef.

THE PAST : Then I went back farther… I knew, after my 18th bday, that my Dad was an alcoholic, he hit rock bottom with me and has spoken of this often at his AA Anniversary meetings. He is to date 31 years sober. He had a horrible childhood, his own adopted father, was an alcoholic and beat him relentlessly as a young boy. I always saw the little wounded child inside my Dad, he hated his bday, had so much sadness inside, despite his exterior facade. When my Grandma passed away when I was 4, my grandfather came to live with us. My Mom, a woman who is also very much a lady, everyone adores her, she too, had a very damaging childhood, a history of alcoholism from damaged men going all the way back as long as she can remember, from her Dad, to Great Great grandfathers . In her case, she had a Mom, who never ever allowed her support, praise or anything resembling pride to be her Mother. My Mom never ever felt good enough, to know her – HOW could any mother not beem with pride having her as a daughter? These are facts I KNEW, as an adult woman. I’m also, the oldest of two twin brothers, by almost 5 years. Two men I adore and cherish to date (not short of their own issues and demons, but those aren’t my stories to share). So I went back farther… but instead of reflecting on memories, somehow I chose to reflect seeing myself as a little girl, but through an adult Woman and Mothers eyes…. this is where it took a very unexpected turn….

First, I recognized I don’t have one single memory of my brothers from birth, till around the age of 10-12. That really concerned me, literally, not a single one – and my memories go back far. (therapy is going to help me understand this and hopefully open doors). The few long term boyfriends I had as a teenager, (regular teenage drama) despite tears or upset, my parents never once stood up and spoke out in concern or being protective over my broken heart. They said nothing. I always assumed they were giving me the freedom to live my own life and choices… but as a Mom now, as a daughter and sister.. I’m a fierce lioness when it comes to protecting or being there for my family – always have… I couldn’t relate to their actions as parents. Then I had flashbacks to being a little girl (I still know how my nursery looked, my first big girl bed, my memories go back easily to when I was 2). I remembered being between 3-4, parents friends backyard pool party.. Dad, holding me on his arms, on the edge of a diving board, bouncing up and down… then holding me out, as if to drop me.. I remember crying and begging him to pull me back into where I felt safe and secure, he laughed… I looked across the pool, to my Mom, sitting there, no expression and saying nothing. Not a single word. (WTF), I remember the same scenario at the Toronto Zoo, same age possibly a little older but don’t remember my brothers… Dad was holding me, where I felt safe.. he held me out, over the alligator pit… laughing at me as I screamed, again, Mom watched and said nothing. A few memories such as this surfaced I never knew were in the compartments of my memory bank, I was sick, furious, the emotions I don’t even know how to express – except for betrayed by both of my parents. I didn’t know my dad was an alcoholic when I was a little girl.. even growing up, he rarely ever drank at home. We knew fun, happy Dad, or angry, almost sad dad. It struck me like a knife in my soul and an awakening I wasn’t ready for… not only did I never feel protected ever in my life, I felt the only time I was recognized, was when I was a sounding board, to empower and support my parents in their own unique way. My female role model, and the women before her, never ever had a voice of opinion or enough self respect to speak up for themselves, they never spoke up to protect their children. They were silent. The rage I felt inside, the betrayal as the little girl all the way up to present day – there simply are no words. I wept for “her” the little one inside, as a Woman and as a mother, I hurt so badly for her, as odd as it sounds, I felt like remembering all of this suddenly allowed her to rest, like a ghost that had been stuck for years, was finally validated and set free. As mentioned prior, it was after this that I had to process what I was feeling for my parents and brothers, pull back and away – just to say I had to take time away to think about things. I have since shared with my parents, and will get into the results in my next blog “chapter”, but it was something, as foreign and terrifying as it was to face, I think standing up for myself as the adult grown woman I am now, allowed them to reflect on their own accountability and vulnerability to their own “why”. I set healthy boundaries, and its still a process in the works, but, its forward.. no longer an unspoken secret. My brothers, I still have to share much with them. 5 years between us, Dad became sober when they were tweens, I have a much different perspective then they do. Bottom line, we all love each other very much, but it was time for the cycle to end. If unhealthy choices are your pattern, there IS a reason why, if the reason isn’t faced, and possibly atoned, nothing is really being healed, its simply being covered up. It won’t ever go away – it has to be released and set free. Hands down, this was the most difficult part of this healing journey for me. But is was the one single step, that completely changed my understanding, outlook and ended the cycle for the generations to follow.

Step 1. #Accountability; “choices”, you made them, own your part in the outcome.

I remember vividly the rainy night I was sitting in my favorite muskoka chair outside, consumed with heartbreak and loss, grieving a recent breakup. All the stages seemingly at once of grief (totally can picture a Bridgit Jones manic episode as I type this out). We all have had heartbreak, it can feel like you’re dying inside, every slow song on the radio torments you, situations trigger memories, I won’t even touch on the self induced torture of deciding “The Notebook” would be great selection to watch during this time. Something else happens…. we’re hurting so badly and loneliness is filling up inside, that we start to romanticise the reality. Suddenly the reasons that were blindingly clear that it wasn’t healthy or sustainable begin to be replaced by the “perfect times”, the loving moments, the memories shared together… oh, hello self doubt, was waiting for you to appear. I could easily go on and on about this – however, good things don’t end. Remember the bad, remember how they made you feel over and over again, remember the tears, the loneliness you felt when they were right beside you… THESE are the realities. Easier said than done.. totally get it, but you don’t “get it” until you’re over it. THEN the “why in the sweet holy hell did I ever stay, no, GO BACK multiple times – knowing the outcome would result the exact same or worse – maybe this time ….. CHILD, NO! Its your heart playing games with your head… its not the “hope” this time it will be different – its fear – of continuing on with how badly it hurts, being alone, the long exhausting process of meeting or even the idea of meeting someone else, they couldn’t ever be like “he/she” was, right??? Thats the point, you dont want them to, it ended for a reason (or multiple). Its plain and simple grief. Its normal, if you werent suffering horribly over the loss, you didnt love them.

This however, wasn’t a “normal” relationship or breakup, where feelings are hurt, possibly jaded… this was an extremely toxic, abusive, demoralising, damaging, constant walking on egg shell based, loaded with multiple traumatic experiences mixed in. I didn’t go back once, I went back 5 times prior. I put my daughters and family through the hellish tormoil and constant worry for me, 5 times prior.

I digress for a moment if I may, soon after the breakup, a girlfiend had recommended a book for me to read that helped her during a marriage ending.. “Why Does He Do That”… I downloaded it to my Ipad and read no more than about 3 pages… “WTF”, WHY am I focussing so much energy even beginning to attempt to try to understand how or why he acted as he had (with a long history of the same behavior to others he “loved” FYI), WHY did I ever not just allow this for myself, I chose… no, contintinued to choose him over an over. What’s wrong with me? If asked, I’m a zero BS, blunt when it comes to advise to others, how can I be so willingly neglegent to my own self worth?

The “superpower” aspect of having an ADHD mind, is that theres hyper-focus, its like having the mental ability to process as if a panel of 8 advisors debating in your mind at once. So, this one raining night while the internal playing of my relationships “Greatest Hits” was going off, so was the “advisory commitee”, my broken heart and sad mind all together at once, when it hit me like a bolt of blinding lightening…. Why am I missing him? Why did I choose anyone to be a part of my life like him? I wasn’t a prisoner or victim of circumstance, I saw the flags 3 weeks in and ignored…. actually, why is my history filled with being drawn to broken, damaged men? Why do I almost starve for dominant males approval to validate me? The “nice guys”, great friends, but have always deemed them “weak” to consider dating, just no immediate chemistry. Hmmmmm… theres a pattern here.

Welcome to the stage – Accountability. I had never ever prior, taken a step back in life and said to myself “ok, well isn’t this a fabulous shit show… how did my choices result to this”. Now, I’m not going to sugar coat it and say the remainder of the evening was pleasant, far from it. We all have little compartmental spaces in our minds for memories… as I began to go back farther and farther through the years, teens, child, baby… instead of reflecting on memories as that age, I observed them through adult eyes. Hidden compartments putting together little flash backs that never made sence suddenly fit together, truth be told, nobody can prepare you for when your authentic story & truth appears, we mature, evolve and gain experience as we get older, however, who we are now – was created from every one of those experiences, life lessons, memories. Its a package deal, our character makeup, from the past to the present. Before I realised it, the sun was coming up, I was raw, hurt, angry, sad – a million other emotions mixed into the melting pot, and didnt speak with my immediate family for just over 2 weeks, explaining only that I needed a little bit of space.

If you aren’t willing to be accountable for your choices which played a part in your life – you’re simply covering issues up with a light layer of dirt… the same cycle will continue.

The UN’BECOMING Truth

Mental Health, for lack of a better description is at a current global #crisis state. #endthestigma, #shame, #anxiety, #depression, #PTSD, #suicide & #addiction, in many cases aren’t because people are sick broken or weak, they’re tired from being strong for too long and are suffering. After taking a poll I posted on #Twitter, 50% say they are suffering in silence due to the fear of criticism, judgement and or possible dismissal from work. The reality I’ve learned for many, is simply this – saying #I’mFine for too long, the load became too heavy and something had to give, their mental health. This is also my personal truth. I’m part of the 80% suffering of those who took the anonymous poll. Currently, 1% of medical funding within Canada is put towards Mental Health. The suicide rate, prodominantly with First Responders is skyrocketing to all time highs. I can say from personal anecdotal experiences I’ll share throughout, its a very broken, weak system with very little accountability and direction from the relevant professionals in the field. A little personal insight, I’m 48, a Self Employed Health, Safety & Mental Wellness Professional, Certified First Aid Instructor, single Mom, on the outside, a positive, happy person with a “great life” – who hid behind the #shame of admitting to mostly myself – that it was just that, appearances. If only Mental Illness could appear on the outside – I ‘d surely have looked like I fell into a wood chipper. I managed to get to my 19th year of marriage, which came to an end, amicably, where the events, choices and experiences began to add up within the 6 years following, much of which resulted in significant anguish and multiple traumas.

It was spring of 2019 after being faced with 3 individual traumas/stressors within an 8 month period, the final one, pushing me off the “edge”, resulting in a severe anxiety attack (literally felt like I was having a cardiac episode – or dying, lasting for hours & into the next day) followed by a deep dark depression and ultimately a complete breakdown of my mental health (I’ve just recently even been able to share this with my parents – apparently I’ve mastered the coping mechanisms to hide behind the smile) I saw my physician, was prescribed medication & secured and have attended recommended therapy. For two months, I barely if ever left the security of my home, completely isolated myself from all friends and family. It was a good week if I decided to simply take a shower. It is only as of very late, I can see a little bit of sunshine through the dark black skies of depression. The reason I’ve chosen to share this insight is as follows; I have always been an advocate for others to speak up with their stories, the non-judgemental listener, advised to consider seeking medical attention for professional help, I shared the posts with the #’s supporting mental health and wellness – the reality is, I felt like a complete hypocrite & was doing exactly what so many others do – submit to the #fear of the #shame stigma. I’ve learned that speaking your personal truths, knocks walls down, it encourages others, resonates with some that “OH MY GOD, someone gets it.. its like reading my own story, I thought I was alone”, its completely empowering! I’m here to tell you that you’re NOT alone. The reality is, I feel anyway, my mind, body & soul – had to completely “power-off” to rest and heal. I don’t know if I could have possibly faced another single challenge during this time, that terrified me, how fragile I became/am. Was all I could muster just to not let my daughter’s home fall apart taking her Mother along with it, I felt grateful that my oldest daughter lives in London, Ontario so I could at least spare her.

I met with my therapist early this week (best decision ever BTW), she asked me what fuels my internal “guage”. My honest answer was – “helping others”. I’m admin. on a private Women’s Support Forum which I take so much strength from, however its intentially small. As soon as she mentioned journalling (which is a big help, just to write thoughts down – even if all you have is one sentence that day, its making the decision and allowing some of the internal chaos – out) It IMMEDIATELY resonated to share my journey on my Blog. It’s win win, I can express openly to help heal myself & even if it allows one single person to feel less “broken” and alone – to possibly allow someone else hope that they CAN get through this, aiding to smash the stigma surrounding Mental Health, be part of the solution, not add to the problem – then HELLO – this seems like a perfect forum.

Following this post, under the title The UN’Becoming Truth, I’m going to share as often as I’m able, my story, broken down into “chapters” as each one is relevant to my breakdown. The story and journey is 100% authentically mine, however, I’m not an academic in this field in any regard, I am however jam packed with real life experience, and my journey back to a stronger, healthier version of myself, along with the tools and methods that aided the process, in the hope to raise awareness – can’t learn that in a text book.

I KNOW, and have learned the hard way, you can’t possibly build a strong future, on a broken foundation. I didn’t truly think a month ago, I’d ever feel “ok” again, and a few really bad days following that, I was just too far gone – BUT, here I am, typing this blog, as effortlessly as fluid, I can validate that this has been hands down the most difficult time in my life, its not cliche’, the words we’ve all heard, that sometimes you truly have to personally hit rock bottom, and then plumet lower after that, before you can begin to rebuild. It WON’T be easy, but I PROMISE that you’re worth it, WE’RE worth it. Minute by minute, thats all it has to be – remembering to look out the windsheild ahead, the rear view – is to look back and learn from, which is also an important part of healing, at least for me, I had to look alllllllll the way back, to understand who I had become, and “UN’Become” that person to make room for who I will be …