This is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned this last year. Just because someone is in your life, be it family a partner or a friend – when someone shows you how they’re willing to treat you , believe them. We teach others how to treat us by what we’re willing to accept. In many instances, we simply dismiss negative behaviours and defend with “it’s just the way they are”. By doing this, we teach ourselves that we don’t matter. We’re making the choice to compromise our self worth every time we just “let it go”.
We tend to overlook certain behaviours with the mentality “they’ve always been this way”. That’s true, because they’ve been excused and enabled. It doesn’t matter who someone is to you or how old they are, if their words and actions hurt you, it’s not ok. just because something or someone has always been a certain way, doesn’t make it the “right” way. If it’s unhealthy for you – express it and make the boundary known. If you want change, be the change and don’t compromise your mental well-being to appease another. Not doing this, you’re telling yourself that you don’t matter, you’re compromising your integrity.
This wasn’t easy for me. It hurt badly, the feeling of being disposable to someone you love. Then I realized, the only ones who will ever leave you for setting healthy boundaries, were the ones who benefitted by you not having any. They weren’t ever truly in your life, it simply benefitted them having you in theirs. Just because someone’s always been in your life, doesn’t mean it was a healthy relationship for you. The right ones stay, the ones who don’t – were never really there. You likely just clung onto the idea that they were supposed to be.
Make the choice to stop sacrificing your emotional needs to appease another. If you feel you have to, that’s when you need to be accountable to “why” and stop permitting it. Learn to love yourself enough to excuse yourself from a table that no longer serves you. Choose whatever and whomever fuels your soul, not consistently depletes it.
The world will adjust, the right ones will remain and the ones who left – were like weeds in the garden, choking out growth to become the best most authentic, healthy version of yourself. Choose you. 💜
Bullying has been saturating the news as of late, its weighing on me heavily. We know the problem – the solution seems simple right? Understandably, when emotions are high, its easy to hate on the bullies, “lock them up and throw away the key” has pretty much been the consensus across the board. The bigger picture is so blindingly obvious and isn’t being discussed… because for generations, it truly has been the most fiercely protected secret – Bullies aren’t born, they’re created… I know, I know.. just hear/read me out, before disagreeing….
Bullying is simply a name used to excuse the mean kid, the volatile boss… this isn’t just jealousy or having a “fight” with their best friend. True bullying behaviour is when someone purposes torments, taunts, verbally attacks and in some cases, a physical assault is made. These kids feed off of another’s pain, it empowers them, sometimes laughing or smiling as they’re doing it. In many cases, “cyber bullying” is becoming a resort, advising someone to kill themselves, they’re ugly, everyone hates them, they’d be better off dead. The victims are afraid, often in tears, crying, feel isolated and extremely alone, the bad is always easier to believe than the good and the “bully” feeds off of this vulnerability, they feel more powerful. Here’s what they don’t feel; empathy, compassion or slight possibly complete void of remorse or regret, which, by definition; Narcissistic Sociopath / Psychopath personality disorders. These personalities create victims. The sugar coating of this can’t be tolerated any longer, which is exactly whats been done to date. These are extremely abusive personality traits and if appearing at young ages – are not only silent cries for help -they should be regarded as immediate flags for a child who either hasn’t received emotional nurturing by their parents or has suffered a significant emotional trauma which studies prove, at a young age can most definitely effect the frontal lobe of the brain during development (up until the age of 21). This is where emotional response is created. During a significant trauma(s) – this can shut down certain neuro-transmitters i.e.: narcissistic sociopath, or heighten them – empath. Some have an ability to disconnect from the trauma and process it without repercussions also.
“What happens in our house, stays in our house”… a term used by generations since the beginning of time. The ones saying this – are those afraid of the truths being exposed. Domestic Violence / Psychological, Verbal Abuse has been hands down, the most guarded secret throughout generations, kept by all who live within the 4 walls. This is exactly why the solution to the “problem” has been such a struggle for schools across the “board”. Social class doesn’t discriminate when it comes to Domestic Violence. Every single true “bully” or the ones labelled as the “freaks” with no friends, gamers, blending in only to stand out… were once innocent little happy babies. Parents may think they’re being the best at secrets and cover ups… kids see and hear all, if they haven’t personally experienced abuse themselves, it imprints on them – plain and simple. The children don’t dare disobey or expose their parent(s) or close family member because these are the same people that nurture them, that love them. The partners of the abuser wouldn’t dare expose the truth as plain and simply – it woudn’t be safe and no laws protect them. They’ve spent most of the relationship with the partner they once loved so deeply – now bonded by trauma and its own addiction manifests, a breakdown of reality and mental health occurs, defending and or excusing the behaviour of their partners, they feel isolated and alone, the partner’s family in almost all cases, protect their “secrets” and have likely dismissed any and all possible attempts to inquire. These victims have children together and so.. the “secret” remains. *** REMEMBER – whats posted on social media, its the hi-lite reel, what we want others to see, the bad the ugly, the truths, aren’t posted… EVER *** . If the school intervenes – in many cases, I’m advised, they fear for the child’s safety (HELLO – doesn’t that speak volumes), after brief encounters meeting the parents or the parents simply don’t care, will dismiss to “kids being kids” … regardless, what doesn’t happen, is the child receiving therapy and or counselling because the parents are the ones who have groomed this child to become exactly who they became. The child grows up, marries and continues the cycle. “Bullies” grow up – into adults who abuse.
How do I know this is factual? Because I was able to escape Domestic Abuse, after recognizing that 5 attempts later, I had no elastic left to spring back, he turned his rage on his child (that I love like my own), I stepped in and faced the wrath for the very last time. I had no idea what a Narcissistic Sociopath even was.. I felt shame, guilt, fear, I knew he was a literal Jekyll and Hyde Monster.. but I’d never heard of any story, experience, hell – even a suspense thriller – as horrifying as my truth…. until I found a support group which literally saved my sanity. It wasn’t one person that understood and could validate every single aspect… it was 10’s of thousands. All on different paths however, we all, male and female, experienced this type of unimaginable abuse. The reality is.. had my abuser, been my children’s father (he wasn’t) … I likely would go to my grave keeping his dark secret… He’d be part of my life forever. I don’t know of a single victim speaking out, when they’re immersed between the “4 walls”. It would be a fate worse than death to be truthful, and as recent Headlines have proven, is sometimes the result.
Think about the hundreds if not thousands in your own personal circle… how many are currently living in a domestic violence environment….? Likely none right, because you’d be getting them out? So if current statistics prove at LEAST 1 in 10 are living with abuse (these are just the ones reported), how realistic is it that nobody we know…. is being abused? I’ll tell you from personal experience… victims become masters at covering up. If you look into their eyes, they are pleading with others, even strangers to recognize they’re in danger.
I’ve been outspoken on multiple discussion forums as of late… for every problem, there is a solution. If the schools are held accountable to their own “Zero Tolerance” Policy Statement, this will immediately hold the abusive child & their parent(s) accountable, it is ABUSE, a report has to be made to the Police, which in turn will activate CAS (Children’s Aid Society) if the child is a minor. This WILL WITHOUT QUESTION… shine much needed light on the secrets between the 4 walls and exposing countless for being the abusers that they are. The victims NEED TO BE RESCUED… current laws don’t recognize Narcissistic Sociopathic Abuse as abuse… “Call us back if he hits you”.. leaving the Victims to Face CAS and the after wrath from their Abuser making it so much worse than before. ABUSE IS ABUSE… there is no mild form.
This “SECRET” kept for generations needs to be EXPOSED for the very real crisis that it is and hopefully with more and more victims speaking out, finding their voice again, recognizing that their silence is creating a future generation of abusive partners…. our generation can be – the desperately needed change. This cycle needs to end. Its starts INSIDE the 4 walls. ALL bullies/abusers are broken, weak, insecure individuals who have been hurt… to one, they may seem powerful, to a group, they don’t stand a god damn chance. Our children deserve better, future generations.. deserve better. WE, as a society NEED TO DO BETTER.
It was evident from very early on, that you were extremely intelligent. All of the milestones I was following in the “What to Expect” books, you achieved well ahead of the “norm”. Walking by 10 months old and talking in full sentences by 16 months. Once you started to speak, you never stopped. “precocious” was a word often used by others to describe you, but to me, you were just my precious baby who was adored and so loved.
By the age of 4, you were extremely intuitive, your creativity, imagination and ability to communicate with a high level of articulation, often made me do a double take – surprised that this mind was in such a tiny body. “Old Soul”, “highly sensitive” and a very “deep thinker” were characteristics that were always apparent. You loved preschool, dance, socializing and playdates were requested often. What was also becoming noticeable, was that you were easily excitable, chatted constantly, if you were focussed on a favourite tv show, you were in a trance like state, it became a bit of a challenge to calm you down if you became frustrated or upset but it was just you being you and were honestly the light of my life, I was truly blessed to be your Mom (still am).
By grade 6, a student who always excelled, suddenly grades all together began to plummet. You loved your teacher, being at school and the friendships made. You never got into trouble, the teachers all adored you and commented often on how empathic & nurturing you were with “special needs” children, you were never disruptive – the grades concerned everyone, further testing showed an enriched mind, so a learning “disability” wasn’t in question. It was suggested we see our family Dr and be referred to a Psychologist. This is when it was diagnosed, you had ADHD & Anxiety.
You’re grown now, but I really need you to know; you deserved so much better, so much more than what I provided you. The truth is, I failed you on many levels as your Mom, I wish I had handled things so much differently – I need you to know it was never your fault or anything you did wrong.
I wish I had taken the time to research every single aspect within the scope of ADHD. I didn’t, I continued to raise you as I always had, with love – but not making adjustments necessary not just to effectively communicate with you, but to understand things from your perspective. That was so unfair to you.
I wish the times you “spiralled”, I hadn’t lost my patience so easily, that I didn’t raise my voice to stop or to be quiet and calm down. Instead, I should have held you in my arms and allowed you the time you needed to calm your mind and decompress. I should have sat with you until you were settled, instead of walking out of the room to calm myself down. That must have hurt you so much and made you feel alone.
I wish I had taken more time to just “be” with you, not just at bath and bedtime, but during so many of the times I became frustrated with you, asking you to stop talking, to calm down, to pay attention etc. The truth is, losing my patience with you – frustrated you more, it must have made you feel “bad” or “wrong”, also must have made you feel misunderstood, simply for being you. This was my fault, never yours.
I wish so many times, I had remembered the age you were, as on so many levels, you were “wise beyond your years” and forgot this far too often.
As you grew into a teen, now old enough to be medicated to aid in your mental health, the nights your mind wasn’t able to be shut off and you watched the sun come up, I wish I had been so much more understanding, instead of so easily dismissing it, in a rush, getting angry to hurry and get ready for school. I wish I hadn’t been selfish with my own time at night, to make the time to lay with you until you were able to rest by focussing on something other than the tornado of lights, sounds, colours, conversations and ideas – that were in high definition during these moments. I wish I took the time to listen, all the times you were in full out “chat” mode, instead of dismissing you or being “too busy”. I wish I was so much more understanding of how much of a struggle school was for you, not appreciating that the classes you excelled in, were ones that you had interest in, high grades were effortless, I wish I recognized that it was the other courses that when you managed to simply pass, needed the most praise & celebration.
What I wish the most, is that I was more supportive, understanding during the times you struggled, recognizing that it was that much more difficult for you, that I spent more time validating your efforts, instead of criticizing as when looking back, you were doing your very best. I wish I never made you feel that you had a problem that needed to be fixed – you didn’t sweetheart, you were being you – and thats all you need to ever be.
What I need you to know, from the bottom of my heart, is that it was my job (and privilege) as your Mom, to be there for you, to support you, to empower, guide and encourage you – all you ever had to be, was you. The times I lost my patience, temper and showed frustration – these are times I failed you. It was never for one single second, you failing me. The only responsibility you ever had, was to be you – for the times I must have made you feel like that wasn’t enough, it was MORE than enough, I love you and I’m so sorry. The truth is, you never needed to do “better”, I needed to do more.
You’ve grown now, into the incredibly special, intelligent, independent, beautiful person both inside and out, that was always without question, the result of your hard work and efforts. I’m so proud of you and who you’ve become, who you’ve always been. I never want you for a single moment, ever to doubt or question how loved you are, how magical your mind is and mostly, that you do and always have, made me so incredibly proud. This world is so much brighter, all because of you.
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.