“Single by Choice” … what is this mystical phenomenon?

I find myself in the position for the first time since I was 16, “in-between relationships”. Truth is, I’ve always had a “person”, until 8 months ago. A long term boyfriend, a 19 yr marriage, “last first date” long term relationships following. Never in my life have I ever felt comfortable just “being”, until now.. and it feels pretty empowering truth be told.

What I have noticed as of late, others are somewhat mystified by my attitude regarding this current “status”, “Why are you single”, “How are you single”, “I have a really great guy for you”, “oh, … well, thats ok”… I can appreciate now how my other “single” friends must have felt all the times I couldn’t fathom HOW they could possibly be happy alone, suggesting they join a dating site or jump back into the dating pool. I’m being treated like I need to be wearing a black dress and veil like an Italian Nonna, after losing her spouse – #labelled. Why is there #shame attached to being a single adult female? When I first moved to this house.. I was the “single girl”. Imagine.. I can look after an entire house completely on my own… oh my goodness. I own a chainsaw and a big ass snow blower.. have looked after other “COUPLES” driveways during the winter too, you know, the women, who have a man to “take care” of THOSE “manly” jobs. Heres some insight.. I looked after the same while I was married… due to circumstance, husbands on the street admired it, wives, asked me to stop because their spouses asked them why they didn’t do the same. So clearly being independent is a true rare trait, or so it seems.

I’ve always preferred the company of men, much stems from my childhood I assume as being a country girl, my only neighbours were boys. I had two twin brothers…I had a dirt bike, a tractor and could drive a stick by the age of 14. I gravitate to the “real”, the zero BS, always have. Gossip, cattiness, jealousy and criticism, I’ve always associated these behaviours with females in general – which is why my social female “circle of trust” is very small. Men, can be single, single for years… hanging with the guys, rec. sports teams, just being, but unattached. Nobody bats an eye… For women however, I’ve now experienced the “stigma”. Its both concerning and pathetic. We somehow NEED a man or there must be something wrong… wtf, is this 1960? I’m only 8 months new to this, but its blinding evident.

When my marriage initially dissolved 6 years ago, I had lived my entire adult life at that point, playing a role. I was 100% a “Stepford Wife”. The “happy” homemaker who was there to keep up appearances, raise the children and look after her man. I own my choices, and what I allowed.. but regardless, with this, I gave up everything about me, that was authentic, as was advised it was “wrong”. As soon as it was official we were separated, I rebelled, and totally own this… didn’t make the best choices, I became selfish and did as I pleased on my new “free time” when he was now responsible for our daughters. Two BIG rebellions that were always forbidden, I booked my motorcycle licence and got not one, but two (tasteful) tattoo’s. G A S P . I finally spent time with my best friend who was also single, that was never “permitted” prior.. never going to bars, or meeting men, just girl time… movies, dinners, talks that lasted for hours… I needed it, never having a sister, my girlfriends are treasured bonds. I remember going out for dinner with a friend, I considered a really close girlfriend at the time. We were chatting away and she became serious ” Listen, so the whole “bike thing”, the tats, spending time with ___… have you switched teams”…. I was both shocked and felt so completely judged by this. Because I’m doing what I WANT to do, because I’m single now and spending time with a girlfriend that I was never able to do prior… this, puts my sexuality into question?… was she kidding.. ? Nope.. “Oh, just wanted to check”.. needless to say.. that placed what I considered a good friendship – into a bare acquaintance position. I can honestly say, I’ve never judged anyones simple basic right to be single -by questioning their sexual preference. I personally wouldn’t care who anyone decided to love… but because they’re single, choosing to be, are they suddenly gay? This mentality was foreign to me. This was going back just shy of 6 years ago.. so lets bring us to current day.

I’ve been single now 8 months. ZERO interest in dating as I’ve taken much needed time with self-care and awareness, which I can’t stress enough, is the best investment I’ve ever made. It seems almost constant now, “are you dating”, “Have you met anyone special”, “Are you on a dating site”, “You NEED to get yourself out there again”… I have zero interest, and yet feel the need constantly to validate this to others. I was at a friends, end of summer party last weekend… I went by myself – which is a big deal for me, as I struggle with social anxiety, but made a promise and HAD to commit to this, for myself. The party was incredible, loads of people, a live band (which I adore), some old neighbours of mine.. I was slowly feeling comfortable. My girlfriend who owns the house, brought me to a table to get to know a few other women, one, she mentioned “we really should connect”. Now, being who I am, I knew it was likely because she had recently gotten out of a toxic relationship and maybe needed a sounding board… I’m kind of known for this role, so I sat, introduced myself. The other women there, immediately spiralled into “why the need to connect”… hmmmmm “hey, maybe the host wanted you two to meet as a set up”…. my poker face sucks. I’m certain confusion was immediately surrounding me… “ummmmm, I may have had “bad man”, however… I don’t feel men are bad – sorry to disappoint ladies… no lesbian here (NOT THAT THERES ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT)… but I am confident, that in my 48 years.. my sexuality has never been in question. These ladies were pretty “solid” if I’m being honest, I enjoyed talking with them.. but it still left me feeling pretty conflicted.

So, I’m left wondering… why is it so difficult to grasp or comprehend that a seemingly, well put together, independent, confident, intelligent single female, would or could possibly “choose” to be single, unless of course – she’s a lesbian. When I was (unhappily) married, I looked at my (few) single friends as so lucky to be free to just “be”.. but admit, I too, was the first one to bring up dating to them, finding them a man… so for those friends… I can say, from the bottom of my heart.. I am sorry.. I completely get it now.

I don’t require a label to define who I am (anymore), I AM HAPPY, CONTENT, AT PEACE – just “being” … in a relationship, with myself… and for the first time in my whole life, I finally feel like I truly “belong” here. If and when the day ever comes where eyes meet, and he stops me in my tracks… I know without question, life is about to change… I’ll be open and excited for that, but until then… my relationship status will remain “between relationships indefinitely” and as shocking as that may be to some.. it truly works for me.

#3 HOME; We’re essentially, results of learned behaviors. As adults, choices often reflect this.

So back to the night of reflection, sitting in my favourite chair, attempting to figure out my “why’s” on life choices, not only did this allow me to go back and view myself as a child, through adult eyes, this process brought me back “home” again, to reflect on my childhood.

I’ve always looked back on these days, with a full heart, and countless fond memories. Our childhood was seemingly perfect. The beautiful home in the country, loving, present parents, we wanted for nothing. Dad, tall, dark, handsome and strong, Mom, beautiful, blonde, independent and nurturing. Our extended family were all extremely close growing up, many friends of our parents, we grew up calling Aunt and Uncle, also allowing many more “cousins” to share times together. Our home was always open to our friends, who rarely wanted to leave once they arrived. Mom, was the Mother everyone wanted as their own, Dad was “cool” and in my younger years, all my girlfriends had a crush on. They never ever fought, never spoke ill of each other to us, we were never to disrespect either of them. We were raised with good solid core values. It WAS perfect… wasn’t it?

Here’s the thing, we grow up, viewing our parents as just that, our Mom and Dad, unless its a toxic environment, most of us feel we had the “best parents in the world”. We were loved, cared for and protected, thats all children need. What we, or at least I, never did, was view my parents as “human”, unique individuals with their own issues and personal struggles. When I started looking back, I realized that they were once much younger then I am currently – when I was little, they were in their late 20’s, young adults attempting to figure out this whole parenting, just as I once had, raising my own, now two grown daughters.

Dad, had a very harsh, cold, abusive childhood. Adopted parents in their 50’s, a quiet, loving Mom, a dominant, alcoholic Father. Dad rebelled soon into his teens, became a “functioning” alcoholic himself. When Grandma passed, I was 4, right before my twin brothers were born, shortly there after Grandpa moved in with us, he and Dad were never close, and now he was sharing his home with a man who made him feel worthless his entire life, while his young family was just beginning. I, from a very young age, recognized the broken, hurt little boy inside my Dad. I was his travel buddy, his confident, always his “little girl”. I didn’t know what an alcoholic was, but I did know that the same eyes that looked at me with so much pride, could somedays turn, and the gaze staring back at me would be one of contempt. I remembered the moments where he would centre me out at functions, making fun or mocking me, laughing as he did it. These times didn’t last long, but they had a lasting effect.

Mom, grew up, knowing only dominant, alcoholic males, married to silent, picture perfect females, living lonely, loveless marriages – all the way back through her family tree. In Mom’s case, Grandpa (I only have the best memories of him, he loved us all so much and can till hear his hard belly laughs in my mind, even today) spent most of his free time at the town Legion, he and Nanna (who I also adored) bickered constantly. Mom however, grew up with a Mother who made her feel like she was never good enough, in every aspect. Almost resented her for some reason. Even as a young woman, a new home in the country, with a little girl and baby twin boys, not only was she never offered help, she didn’t come to visit her, mostly, she never expressed how proud she was of her, how special she was, what an amazing woman she grew up to be – I can’t comprehend this, as a mother myself. She withheld basic love, from a daughter who never for a single moment gave her a reason to not beam with pride. Sadly, she married into the only life she ever knew.

Its true, my parents never argued or disrespected each other. They didn’t communicate at all, they didn’t laugh, there was no affection, they weren’t friends, they just “were”. I remembered suddenly, all the events we had to leave early, the nights after work, Dad wasn’t home for dinner, Mom never said a word, just carried on with the evening routine as per usual and put us to bed with a kiss on the forehead. Dad came home, eventually, to sleep on “his” couch. They didn’t argue because they both chose to ignore each other, Mom, because she was angry and the attempts he made to justify wore out years prior. Dad, walked around on egg shells, knowing what he did was wrong, but wouldn’t want to ever face being accountable or actually having to discuss the problems at hand. If you don’t talk about it, it will just fade away….

Considering how he was raised, he was never an aggressive man with us, I think each of us received one hard spanking ever, we weren’t going to relive that again, and besides, the “death stare” from Dad was enough to bring anyone to their knees, it was rare that we would ever misbehave. Remembering however, some of the cruel and hurtful things that were said when the “angry Dad” side appeared, those words and actions coming from a man I adored, caused more damage and cut me deeper than being beaten ever could have. But his eyes always went back to kind again, and all was to be forgotten. The reality is, I never should have been his support system or confident. The only role I ever should have been responsible for as a child was being his little girl. Something I recognized we never did, was talk about our feelings. The “hard stuff” simply wasn’t discussed. Mom enforced, “what happens in this house, stays in this house”. We wouldn’t think of betraying our parents, we kept the secrets within the walls, however, we also kept our own emotions buried.

As a young girl, it was always advised that I was “too much”, talked to much, sang too much, got too excited about things, I was a daydreamer, didn’t live in the “real world”, I was in the way too much… always too much, but never told once, that I was enough. All of the qualities that made me unique and special, weren’t deemed as such. This continued on through adult life, I almost became a “Mothering” role to my father, especially after my parents marriage dissolved and our childhood home was sold right before my Wedding. I was there to support my Dad every time he needed me, until just recently. Mom, in her own way, passively treated me just as her Mother treated her, just nowhere near the extreme. For some reason, me appearing anything less than perfect in her eyes, would reflect on how she was as a role model, it would somehow be viewed as her fault for my short comings. I’m still uncertain who the Judge & Jury were… but she sure felt their presence.

Shortly after the night of “going home” to my past, I met with each of my parents, providing each the “Cole’s Notes” version, “the story of me”. Sharing only what they needed to know, not wanting either of them to hurt from these decades old revelations, it simply wouldn’t be fair. Dad, was visibly emotional, but no words were expressed. Just like a little boy, when confronted, he always retreats away to hide. He didn’t say the words “I’m sorry”, but I know he was. It was understood. Sharing my truth with my Mom, as difficult as this was, knowing how personally she would take all of it, proved therapeutic for us both. She saw things in a much different light, recognized her own accountability for her choices, and was able to release so much internal resentment and hurt that she has carried, her entire adult life. It hurt her how she had made me feel all of these years, but to be fair, I never expressed it, until then. I never placed any boundaries where my parents were concerned. The reality is, they weren’t idyllic figures of perfection, they were human beings, flawed – as we all are. They each, were the best parents they knew how to be, they love us very much – and thats enough.

As for me, that night, sitting in my favourite muskoka chair, thinking about life as the thunder rolled by and the rain pelted the ground. I faced the little girl inside, I held her close, looked her in the eyes and told her, “you were ALWAYS enough”, she was finally able to rest. The cycle ended that night, where the voices in the future are silenced, feelings aren’t shared and healthy boundaries aren’t set. I know I haven’t been a “perfect” Mom, I own this and have expressed such to my daughters. They’ve both, regretfully watched me a few times, become broken down to where I didn’t know if I’d be able to get back up again, but I always did, and each time, letting them know that my choices in life were just that, they were mine to make, as are accepting the results following. I’ve made many mistakes, but one thing I know for certain I managed to do right, neither of them, for a single second, ever had to question or doubt, that they were each, in their own unique, special, magical way, perfectly imperfect, they ARE enough and mostly, they ARE loved, exactly as they are. These are the best two choices I’ve ever made in this life, and that, for me, is enough.

I love you N&M, more. Momxoxo

WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST LEAVE; An open letter to the girl who feels “you couldn’t understand”, I do, I was there.

It wasn’t always that way, truth is, if “the greatest love story ever told” was an actual “thing”, you were without question, in the midst of the first chapter. From the first “hello”, you knew as sure as the blood that pumps your heart, he was the one you were waiting for, and didn’t realize it until that very moment when your eyes met. Could it be real, every single attribute, exceeded any and all ideas of what the “perfect man for me”, was literally sitting across from you. I was there.

The last first date was progressing, from days to weeks, the power of this “love” was unlike anything you have experienced prior, you felt completely lost in him and began taking comfort knowing the search was over, you would be growing old beside each other, holding hands on a park bench by the water, as deeply in love as you were from the moment your eyes became lost in eachother. “Soul Mate” was a term created for what you had found together. He literally swept in and there it was PLOT TWIST. I was there.

It was probably the 6-8 week mark, where red flags began to slightly wave in the breeze, not enough to startle you, just enough to catch your eye. Little things made you try to tune out the little voice inside advising these words, actions and responses, just weren’t “normal” behaviours. He began to share insight, opening up a few skeletons from his closet, dark secrets, you won’t ever share, they’re not yours. What you didn’t realise then was that he was scouting you, allowing you the same trust to confide in him, experieces from the past that hurt you, your fears, insecurities, hopes, dreams – how coud you not, you loved him. You were safe. I was there.

A couple of months in now, the lavish dates, limos, flowers, wine, jewelry and other gifts were still regular, it began to feel extreme. He wasn’t wealthy, how was he affording all of these grand gestures, and why were they necessary? It was “too” much, you expressed all you want to do is stay “in”, make dinner, cuddle and watch a movie, go for a walk… “I’m your King and you’re my queen” (this phrase eventually made you feel physically sick to your stomach in the years to follow). You began to realize, these weren’t selfless gestures, they were “things” that would be used against you shortly following. He wanted friends and family to know what he did for you, wanted posts on social media… you will soon learn that nothing was ever done out of simple genine kindess or love, only ever if it would allow him pubic validation. Without question, you would be paying these “gifts” back 10 fold. Nothing was without a meticulous plan. I was there.

Time has passed, many incredible memories, however the “love” you were lost in, slowly was exactly that, you felt lost. You were beginning to feel and were accused now, everything of what the opposite of love was, insecure, questioning reality, self worth and value, too sensitive, sanity, selfish, nervous, afraid. The trusted insight you allowed him early on, was now being thrown back at you in horrible, hurtful ways that you couldn’t fathom. They were cruel and with intent to cripple and injure. Always to be validated later with reasoning that it was your behaviour that resulted how it had, or “I’m sorry you took it that way”, “thats not how it happened”, but always with, “lets move passed this, I love you, you’re the one I’m going to grow old with”. A verbal beat down, and a hand to pick you back up, and you took it every single time. Countless nights horrible nights laying beside him, staring at he wall, tears soaking your pillow, the whole time hoping to god he didn’t wake up due to your sniffling as he’d be angry you disrupted his sleep. The feeling of being trapped and horrible loneliness. I know, I was there.

You began to question why he rarely if ever sees his family, the photos on social media and in frames, emulate “perfect and loving”. Yet; you met them only once in the entire relationsip. He met your family and children, but there was never any expressions of wanting to see them, spend time with them, zero sincere interest in anyone in your life. You slowly almost like quicksand, without realizing it, became focussed only on his life and interests, isolation and control was circling around you so passively, you had no idea it was lurking in the background. I was there.

By this point, you’re all in. Became isolated from family and friends, putting the needs and opinions of your own children to the back burner, attempting to hush them as not to upset or make him angry. Having any sense of reality was gone. Something happened to him when upset or angry. You couldn’t make sense of it, never mind begin to know how to express into words. You didn’t know what would or could trigger this, but without warning, the kind, warm, loving eyes that were JUST gazing at you, suddenly “switched” into the eyes of a stranger, dark, lifeless, frightening, his face changed literally in front of you, brows furrowed, mouth scowled, he somehow appeared taller, menacing, his shoulders hung forward, even his voice changed and the words coming out of it, well, as he mentioned multiple times, “I don’t feel slighted or fight back mildly, I fight back to wound, gut and kill”. There’s no way to describe this “Jekyll and Hyde” change. Impossible, unless you’ve experienced it. You’ve never heard of anything like this, even the most suspenseful thriller, had nothing on how this reality would appear on camera. How could you possibly share this “truth”, you would without question sound dramatic or crazy. So you kept the secret of his dark passenger. I was there.

Those “gifts” from early on, he exceeded what he was able to afford, in the efforts to keep you satisfied, because you’re so materialistic and demanding… so slowly, he wants to go shopping, for large purchases for your future together, because “we’re going to grow old together, holding hands on our favourite bench by the water”, passively whispered in the various stores, “I have no room on my cards right now, do you mind getting this, its for “us”.

The little idiosyncrasies you fell in love with and found adorable in the beginning, were now terrifying. Meticulous hygiene, outfits, housekeeping and placement of all of his multiple items, OCD, like “Sleeping with the Enemy” – clothing hung up precisely, labels facing the exact direction and evenly spaced in cupboards, hand towels, must only lay in a specific direction and centred from edge of sink to counter. Hearing your name called from a different room, became crippling as you knew you likely didn’t place someting back “correctly”. You realize you were no longer viewed as an individual with thoughts, feelings, interests, goals – you were an object, taken off the shelf and used to play a very specific role. To allow him a label of having “his” girlfriend, someone who must always present perfectly so others would view him as admirable. “I love the way people look at us”, this became common, especially when walking hand and hand together in public and he managed to catch a glimpse in a nearby mirror. He had a plan for how events will play out and god help you or anything else that created deviation off the vision in his mind on how things had to be. I was there.

You learned to ask “are you SURE about this, don’t say yes, only to punish me later for acting on it”… regardless, he’d decide later it was a betrayal so efforts to ensure anything at this point was moot. One night, in complete fear for your safety, you did call the police. They arrived 3 hours later, while you waited on the front porch, they questioned him. You were advised to “call them back if he hits you” and that you and your child need to sleep somewhere else that night (2am) as he was too intoxicated to leave the premises. CAS was called, came a week later. How safe did you feel going back “home” the following day? He calmly blamed you for his behaviour and scoffed at how unstable you are as there were no charges. It was all your fault. I know sweet girl. I was there.

Double standards… I could easily fill pages, however, only a french manicure, heels, dresses, constant linngerie, every minute to be focussed on him and his “requirments”, regardless of your own children and home to maintain, playing music only if he wanted it played, never knowing which partner you were going to face when you saw him, his greetings and eyes always showed you before a single words was first spoken. Would he walk to the door, checking his watch to see if you were even a minute late, would he look at you through the door and smile as he was pleased or turn and walk away, so you knew he didn’t appreciate the outfit you chose to wear that day. If he wasn’t pleased it was expressed that you don’t feel he’s deserving of the effort to “impress” him. You helped him with his errands or chores because you loved to just be with him, the person you knew was inside, the man you loved so deeply, anything to do with your own “life”, was of zero interest, a burden, a bother and he made certain you knew it. You never asked for help or assistance because you knew it will be held over your head, pinned for a later date. I get it, I was there.

It became too toxic and damaging, laughing and mimicking you as you cried from his words, you were never good enough, a constant disappointment, reminding you all the reasons why you have problems keeping a relationship, how many women would love to be in your shoes, how weak and pathetic your sensitivity is, reminding you of how he would be able to dispose of a body where nobody would ever be able to locate it, and how, never a direct threat, but a gentle reminder, demanded expectations that you knew nobody could ever live up to – the were inside his mind. Life became anxiety ridden, the only ground below your feet felt not just like eggshells, but eggshells on top of thin ice with a slight crack, somedays you wished it would just break so you could fall in be done with these feelings. He would break you down literally to the ground, until the switch went off, his eyes changed back and he offered his hand to pick you up, tell you how much he hates to see you in pain and to allow him to hold you… never ever a hint of regret, empathy or an “I’m sorry”. You left multiple times. Always with, for lack of a better word, “evil” parting words and actions. It became predictable, the first text would appear, then the email, then the call, always without fail, saying everything he knows you want to hear, what you should hear from someone who loves you, pleading just to meet for a walk, a coffee, a dinner… and every single time, you caved – the second your eyes met again, you were brought right back to that very first moment looking into the eyes of your “soulmate”.. These in-between times, you knew would result the same, but maybe, he would change, this time it will be different… they always had a 3 month shelf life, then it was right back or worse then it was before. I was there.

You reached a point of basic exhaustion the last time you chose to leave. His temper was flaring at someone else, while you sat there, you attempted to calmly intervene – KAPOW, it was redirected towards you. You knew this had to finally end. And it did. You were completely shattered, experiencing not only all the normal stages of grief from losing a relationship, part of your soul now felt broken beyond repair. You spent weeks reflecting, being accountable for why you ever chose that treatment not one time but multi times. You were advised of a support group for this kind of abuse, never imagining anyone else could possibly believe your truth, your pain & trauma. It was then you learned the terms : narcissistic-sociopath, gas lighting, flying monkeys, trauma bond – OMG, not just one person could relate, thousands did. His personality wasn’t unexplainable, every member of the support group dated the exact same “person”. Every single story, bled into another. It empowered but also hurt imagining anyone ever living what you experienced. Now you’re the girl who advises with conviction to others just beginning their journey to healing “6 months from now, you will wish you left today”. And you’re right.

I was there, standing right beside you, every single step along that nightmare. I was you, you forgot about me for a long while but I’m so grateful to see you again, the stronger, wiser more confident version that I ALWAYS knew was there. Maybe it took the elevator crashing down below ground level to bring you back to me again. I really missed you. xx

#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.