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A letter of reflection to myself….

This week I will celebrate my birthday.  I have always loved birthdays.  But my birthday last year was one full of turmoil after confronting my mom to have some space after six years of her forgetting my birthday and acting like it wasn’t significant.  Its hard not to approach my day with a sense of “woah, a lot happens in a year” kind of mindset.

I have always written letters to my kids on their birthdays (you can read one of them here http://finallyspeakingmytruth.com/2014/01/08/today-is-beautiful/).  It is a time for me to reflect on how much they have grown in the past year, treasure those special moments that shine who they are, and ponder how they have made my life more fulfilling by watching their journey.  So as one year of my life comes to an end and another is just beginning, I thought maybe I should write a letter to myself.  To acknowledge the shitstorm that I’ve been battling, the things I’ve learned in the process, and the start my new year with a slight sense of encouragement from myself.  For those of you who have been witnessing some of my flailing about this year, you know that supporting and nurturing myself do NOT come naturally.  But here is my attempt.  Fake it until you make it, right?

 

Dear birthday girl in the never ending life crisis,

Phew!  You made it one more year.  This year has shown you many challenges and left you with a few more battle scars that are getting harder to conceal.  The year hasn’t been pretty to say the least.  But those tumultuous roller coaster rides had an amazing way of showing the beauty in life and teaching you what is important in life.  As much as you roll your eyes at that statement, you have learned that deep down that there is truth to that.  These challenges have taught you some amazing lessons this year, often against your will.

One lesson that you still struggle with daily is to never apologize for your feelings.  It’s human to have feelings.  To deny your feelings is to deny your wholeness and your humanity.  I’ll admit that sometimes those feelings are going to suck.  It will feel like they’re are ripping a deep whole into your being.  But feel them.  Let them penetrate you instead of walling them off in some deep corner of your mind.  For if you let them pass through they will open holes in your hard outer shell to allow you to see the profound beauty behind them.  Once you find a way to open your heart to even those painful feelings, the beautiful feelings are able to reach your heart more as well.  And the joy of your kids will embrace you in ways that you can’t fathom.  Trust me the bliss of your babes laughter and the sweetness of listening to them sing when they think no one can hear is totally worth even the deepest pain.

This has been a year of self care.  You are gradually learning that it is ok to take a time out to take care of yourself and your family.  It is ok to put your needs first.  Letting go of all the ‘should’s’ and ‘supposed to’s’ that society has cast out over the world.  Putting yourself first in that priority list.  Unfortunately, that is often misinterpreted and judged as selfishness.  Our society is really backwards sometimes, don’t you think?  We set the bar high on Pinterest boards and Facebook photos of peaceful, happy superwomen reaching perfection with ease.  You are encouraged to be so self-sacrificing and smile while continually putting others needs before your own.  Then everyone is perplexed when you feel empty and lost.  It’s ok to shake of that heavy guilt and tune out the judgments and unrealistic standards in order to hear your own heart again.

It has been of year of testing relationships and friendships.  Some have faded and dwindled as a result.  Fortunately, none out of anger or harsh judgement, more out of misunderstanding.  But some relationships have thrived and grown beyond expectations.  Sometimes you test people and they turn away from the challenge, but others can rise to the occasion.  You can bare your underbelly with an outstretched arm, and they see your wholeness and grab tight to your hand in return.  But somehow even when people meet you where you are, you still manage to be terrified.  Sometimes you need to learn to take things at their face value and stop chanting that old mantra of yours.  You know the one… The one that says your undeserving of others kindness and even makes you suspicious of others intentions.  That mantra is a haunting from your past.  And sticking to it will keep you spinning in your never ending circles.  If you want to breakout of that rut, you may need to find a new mantra.

Speaking of that circle you’re spinning in.  You’re doing so in the comfort of those strong walls you’ve built around you.  I’ve noticed you’ve knocked some bricks down in the process.  Did you notice nothing horrible happened?  In fact, some people have been able to reach their hands in to hold yours.  Grab on to those hands.  Even if it is just while you sit on the floor in the safety on your wall.  Sometimes just sitting still with others can be healing as well.  I know letting those walls come down is scary.  You don’t need a wrecking ball to break down all at once.  Brick by brick is ok too.

Funny thing about those walls and starting to take them down.  Those walls you’ve built have served some great purposes.  But you may have just built them in the wrong places and reinforced haphazardly.    No one will be warm and supportive all the time.  That is unrealistic.  But some people?  Some people throw a heavy cloak of shame and guilt over your shoulders to lighten their own load.  You know those select few.  Sometimes it’s ok to draw a line in the sand to protect yourself.  Hell, forget a line in the sand and dig a moat.  A big moat full of alligators and whatever else you may need to keep that moat protected.  But don’t dig that moat out of anger or bitterness.  That is letting their negativity reach over those waters to still invade your heart.  Do so with a parting warm embrace.  They are also on their own journey.  Respect their journey just as you are asking them to respect yours.  Just do so with a supportive wave from the safety across your moat.

Never let others dictate your path.  They will never know all the nooks and crannies of your story just like you will never be able to fully grasp theirs.  Many have good intentions, but can’t see the pieces of yourself that you have hidden deep in the shadows.  Take what help you can that they are offering, but it’s is ok to save some of their advise for another day.  Others may say things to try to alter your journey as a way to make their path a little more comfortable.  But you are not responsible for other peoples’ happiness.  Read that again.  Do NOT carry others happiness on your shoulders.  But unfortunately that goes both ways.  You can’t keep waiting until ‘he just does this’ or ‘she stops doing that’ to find your own inner peace.  Relying on others to fix things or rescue you could leave you waiting in that darkness far too long.  Get your big girl pants on and pull up your own boot straps.  Take a deep breath and dive in at your own pace to the murky swamp in your head.  It’s your mess to clean up in order to reach the happiness that is hidden below.

This upcoming year will likely only add to your challenges and push you in ways you can’t yet predict.  It is a race only against yourself.  You can drain yourself by spinning in circles or try stepping forward in your journey.  A balance of staying in the safety of your darkness and taking the risk of vulnerability out in the sunshine.  The race is long.  Harder than a dozen marathons.  But you’re another year older.  No one knows what twists and turns this year will bring with it.  The only thing certain is the clock ticking forward.  Hopefully with the added digits to your age you can uncover some wisdom.

Sincerely,
Your wiser self that keeps kicking you in the ass to get moving

Spinning

Spinning, spinning, spinning
The room spins around me
My world spinning so fast
Disorienting my head
Blurring my thoughts

I feel my feet on the ground
Wiggle my toes in my shoes.
My hands, white knuckled, gripping the chair tightly
Trying to find steady footing

But the images keep spinning
A whirlwind twist of present reality with my haunting past
Blurring together so quickly
Hard to tell what’s real, what can I truly lean on
Or what is just blurs from my past distorting my touch with reality

It all keeps spinning, spinning, spinning
The motion sickness taking hold of my body
Nausea that penetrates far beyond my gut and into every finger and toe
Dizziness so unrelenting that my body trembles from exhaustion

This turbulent, somersaulting sickness through my life
It’s picking up momentum
Just when I think it can’t go faster
Things start spinning and blurring at greater speeds
Knocking me down onto shaky ground
Some cruel ride fate has thrown me on
A game that tests the endurance of my sanity

I wiggle my ice cold toes
Wring my sweaty hands
Lying on the ground
Watching the dirty images blur before me

The spinning forces pulling be down
Making my body slide further and further away from my life
Losing things to grasp
Sliding closer to the edge

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Get back up

“It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it’s how many times you get back up.”
-George A. Custer

I had the rug pulled out from under me.  The tree branch that I had been holding onto for security snapped and I came tumbling down to the ground.  Blindsided with such a force that it knocked the wind out of me.  I found myself lying, curled up on the floor yet again.  I have become all too familiar with that spot on the floor.  It is in that dark corner of the room that the turbulent waves of self-hatred, shame, despair hit me with unrelenting force.  Beating me down further into the darkness.  Make me question if it is worth the fight anymore.  My head has spun in circles in those shadows of my past countless times, weighed down and unable to even imagine the possibility of getting back up.  Trust me, if you had asked me last night, I would have told you with conviction that I had given up completely.

But today, my trembling legs got up.  Still feeling disoriented by the fall yesterday, unsure what direction to move forward.  I’m leaning against the wall until I get my bearings again.  Every time it feels harder to move with that heavy weight.  Each time I get up slower than I did before.  But I’m up.  I’m standing.  The current score is:

Falls into darkness – 1,243,650                        Got back up – 1,243,651

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Let your light shine

Starting my Thursday off on this note:

“When you judge you project your shadows onto others, when you love you project your light.”

~ by Aine Belton.

Shake off the judgments and criticisms.  Follow your heart.  It is often so much smarter than your head.

Not everyone likes my decisions recently and I was taking on their criticisms, owning them and drowning in the resulting guilt.  But then I had this realization…  Those judgments are their hang ups and their discomfort that they are pushing onto me.  By doing so they are hoping to make me change my actions in order to ease their discomfort.  However, my actions and direction I am taking my life are done in order to find my own inner peace.  Creating space from those that cause the most pain in my life, not out of anger or retaliation, but just because they are drowning my light and weighing me down in their shadows.  And my head was totally buying into their criticisms and harsh words.  Selfish.  Dramatic.  Overreacting.  Cold.  Ruining peoples lives.  All because I said I need some space for a while…indefinitely.  I didn’t place blame or name call, but that is what I got in return.  And they pulled me back in.

But not today.  Today, I am going back to listening to my heart.  My heart is happier with space from those people that judge me.  Today I’m digging up my light from underneath that heavy, dirty mess of guilt and shame.  I danced at breakfast with the ones that I love dearly and those that love me for where I am.  They make my light shine brighter.  And their bright lights remind me of the beauty in the world.

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Broken beauty

They say with age comes wisdom.  I think it’s more accurate to say that with age comes knowledge.  It’s seems I’ve lost a lot of wisdom as I’ve gained some knowledge over the years.  My daughter reminds me of that often.

Today we were walking along the beach, kicking in the waves and looking for shells.  We had found lots of little shells and were talking about all the different colors we could paint them.  My daughter suddenly gasps in such a manner that I thought she must have found gold.  She runs up and pulls a large shell out of the sand.  I catch up with her and realize that it’s broken.  ‘Oh, that one is broken. Let’s put it back and look for some other shells.’

‘But mommy, it’s still beautiful even though it’s broken.  I thinks it’s perfect just like this.  I like the way it shines.  And if it weren’t broken I wouldn’t be able to see all of the pretty colors inside.  I want to keep it.’  And so it went in our bag.

I have felt very broken recently.  I have lost my writing voice and I have felt lost.  I’ve retreated to safety and into hiding, hoping to keep my broken parts covered up.  I’ve tried to keep only my outer shell presentable thinking that no one would choose to be with me if they saw my pain and shame.  But my daughter showed me that her wisdom was light years ahead of mine.  I may have knowledge of the world and how to do things, but the world has left my heart jaded and not trusting of others kindness.  I have lost the wisdom of the heart.

So today my daughter schooled me on loving kindness.  Not only are things that are broken still beautiful and lovable, but sometimes their brokenness allows you to discover such a deeper core of beauty that you can’t see on the surface.  For a brief moment today, I wasn’t ashamed of feeling broken.  If only we could all listen to the wisdom of a child.

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Time to regroup

When you feel caught running into the darkness… slam on the brakes and just sit down.  Hide out from the looming shadows and regroup.

My life has been in tornado mode for so long.  I don’t know which way is up and which way is down.  I feel like I’m sprinting in circles in a forest chasing some nebulous healing path.  Am I closer to finding a road out or am I just going deeper into the woods?

For now, I’m just going to sit on a tree stump and watch the scenery until some pathway becomes more clear.  Frankly, my legs and mind could use a good rest anyway.  Hoping that with this rest comes clarity.

warrior vs victim

These days seem to have less panic than they did a few months ago.  I deeply grateful for that.  But now I seem to oscillate between two states–being fine and like I’ve got all this covered or a feeling of being sucker punched and unable to breathe or form words.  I’ve spent most of my life in denial about what happened when I was a kid.  The abuse was so painful that I literally blocked it out of my mind completely for years.  But it crept back into my life and made itself known with such a strong force.  But I still denied it most days, chalking it up to complete insanity, delusions and hallucinations.  It is only since I recently saw my dad again and was able to state how I am doing and what I am struggling with that the denial component has seemed to lifted.  And with that, the anxiety has subsided too.  That internal struggle of what my real truth is was creating such a state of panic that it brought my life to a halt on many occasions.  So in some ways this phase that I am in now is much better.

But now I have a much different kind of struggle.  I oscillate between being determined not to let my past define me, to overcome it, be stronger than it, and prove that it has left me unscathed.  Then I can switch quickly back into a ‘woe is me’ mode.  How could this have happened?  Why did this happen to me?  Will I ever get passed this?  How do I even put one foot in front of the other with these horrors of my life?  How will I ever be normal?  The abuse of my past will haunt me in every corner of my life until I die, robbing me of every ounce of joy.  In this despair state, I just lie on the floor staring off into space.  I can form no words.  I have no thoughts.  Just this feeling of being sucker punched with the reality of my life.

But then some days I can manage to get up and go forward.  As a way of saying, “Screw this shit!  I’m not going to let that crap define me.  I’m stronger than that!  It happened years ago and I’m a grown adult now who has her shit together.  Watch me show you how much I’ve got this covered!”  I proceed to plow through lengthy to-do lists, cook all sorts of fancy meals and treats, plan vacations, organize parties and get togethers.  I am a warrior who can conquer this shit with ease.  See how well I am doing?  Pretty amazing, right?

UGH!  Yeah, I’m not buying it either and then I swing right back into that despair, sitting on the couch staring off into nothingness.

Just the beginning…

Finallyspeakingmytruth:

Can’t believe I’ve been blogging for 6 months now. What a roller coaster it has been. Thanks to all of my great readers who have supported me through my journey. You guys are truly awesome! It all began with this…

Originally posted on Finally Speaking My Truth:

I’m writing a blog.  Four words I never thought would come out of my mouth.  I’m usually the shy, quiet one.  But I never really thought my life would be such a tornado mess like it is either.  There’s a lot to be said for that phrase ‘never say never’.  My life has been turned upside down, walls crumbling around me.  And here I am standing in the middle, smiling, trying to play it cool hoping that no one will notice the shit storm brewing around me.  I’m amazed as to how many people can be fooled by the facade I put up.  Some days I even believe it myself. 

Let me take a few steps backwards.  Try to explain something that I’m still trying to make sense of myself.  I’m a woman in her mid thirties, with two beautiful, small children, a husband of 9 years, and working as…

View original 283 more words

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Celebrating a shitty marriage

Ten years ago today, I walked down a rainy aisle in the backyard of the house where I grew up to hold hands with my husband. In front of almost two hundred of our friends and family, we stated our love and commitment to each other. I vowed to stay by his side through the good times and bad, and he said the same to me. I don’t think either of us truly grasped the depth of the words we were saying to each other. I think it was beyond our comprehension. Like parenthood, marriage is one of those things you don’t really know what you’re signing up for until you are knee deep in the murkiness of hard work trying to figure out how to make it and wondering where all the pretty flowers, fun dance songs, and expensive cake went.

Most people spend their anniversary (their tenth nonetheless) focusing on the great times. Reminiscing the beautiful wedding day, the happy silly moments, and how deep they love their wonderful spouse. Well, my thoughts on my marriage are slightly different this day.  Although I will say I am deeply in love with my husband, I’m not pondering our fabulous wedding day or the great times we’ve shared.  Well, I am, but that’s not my focus today.  Honestly, our wedding day was a comical mess.  I was late to my own wedding due to a spacy hairdresser and we got drenched in a tent that was put together last minute with poles and duct tape from Home Depot.  It was a calamity of errors and mishaps, but we got down that aisle, dammit, and still danced our hearts out in celebration.  If I only knew how much that was foreshadowing our lives together.

No marriage is easy.  I can talk about the beautiful moments we’ve shared–the births of our children, the career successes, and the amazing vacations.  But that is only the tip of the iceberg of what we are celebrating today.  Today I am remembering and celebrating the shitty times.  Those times that had us screaming at the top of our lungs, throwing the laundry around the room in frustration, stomping out of the house close to giving up.  Those arguments where you get so lost in the yelling and proving the other wrong that you forget what you even started yelling about…taking out the trash? changing the oil? the dirty underwear on the floor?  How is it that those seemingly little things suddenly become representative of how we never feel heard, don’t feel respected and how we question why we are even with this infuriating person that can’t even manage to put the dishes in the dishwasher correctly???

My husband and I have had countless moments like these.  And as the past two years have unfolded with me spiraling down into a deep darkness of depression, the tension has only been exacerbated. My vulnerabilities that I brought to our marriage are extensive. My struggles with trusting anyone with my true feelings, my fear of true intimacy, my panic attacks in the bedroom, my being honest about the degree of dysfunction in the house that I grew up in, my spiraling darkness that leaves me staring off into nothingness. The walls that I have put up for my emotional security are massive and often insurmountable. Any attempts to breach these walls, even by my beloved husband, are often met with intense anger and evilness in order to make sure those walls are sound and secure. And all of that emotional mess that I bring to the table is only part of the equation in our marriage. My husband brings his own mess of vulnerabilities into the mix too. His fears of not being competent, fears of failure, his struggles of letting go of his parents judgments, his feelings of rejection when I push away his kisses over and over again, his anger and disgust towards my family, his resentment at me for having to keep the household together while I curl up in the corner. That is a lot of hurt and fear that we have to deal with between the two of us. Now add in two energetic, but often cranky and demanding little ones, a house that seems to always need some repair, stressful jobs that wakes us up at all hours of the night having to put the needs of our patients before our own and you have one impressive recipe for disaster. We feel pulled in at least twenty-six different directions on a daily basis.  No wonder sometimes we struggle to find the moments of sweet romance and connection.

When emotions are flying all around the room in the heat of the moment, we both have said some hurtful things.  We both feel the sting of those criticisms and judgements long after the words have settled. We can barely recover from one argument before another is starting to brew.  So, although there have been many great, beautiful moments in our ten years of marriage, these days it seems we have to search a little bit harder and longer in order to be able to get in touch with those moments again.  But I had a realization today…I am ok with that.  I am learning to treasure those dark moments that make us question what brought us together.  Pretty backwards, right?

I am learning that the strength of our marriage is not in those beautiful, happy moments of hearing our sweet babes cry for the first time or watching the sun set on the lake.  Our strength is most evident at the end of those horrible, ugly arguments that leaves us both emotionally wounded and retreating to our corners.  Because even though we both are full of anger and hurt, even though we can’t even pull it together enough to even acknowledge each other before we go to sleep, the next day my husband still wakes up next to me.  Despite many temptations to throw in the towel, we haven’t given up.  We have been painfully raw and human in front of each other.  We have masked our hurt and pain with anger and on rare moments we show our true vulnerabilities in their most bare forms.  To do that and still have him be there the next day is more profound and beautiful than any fancy dinner on an exotic vacation.  He has seen me at my true worst.  I am the first to admit that my worst is hideously ugly and almost impossible to love.  But he is still here.  And in his most recent card to me, he ended it with “I’m not going anywhere.”  And that, my friends, is what marriage is.  Being in that muddy ugliness where the sunlight and pretty flowers are no where is sight.  Struggling to just move forward in the chaos.  That moment of debate when you think that maybe you can find some sunshine faster if you travel alone.  But then look at this human being next you, covered in that sticky mud just as much as you are, and reaching out your hand to grab theirs.

Marriage has a funny way of forcing you to face your weaknesses and your darkest truths.  The love of your life can make you laugh at all of life’s silly moments but they are also skilled at challenging you in patience, humility and vulnerability. Those parts of you that you don’t like to admit are there will play a significant role in your marriage unless you allow yourself to confront them. Using your marriage to grow as a person and be the caring spouse that your partner deserves.

I love my husband with my whole heart and he has intrigued me and challenged me since the day we met in a microbiology class in college (yeah, not the most romantic story). When you say ‘for better or worse,’ no one really truly grasps what ‘worse’ will entail and it is drastically different for everyone. And although we have had some serious rough patches, I have little doubt that our ‘worse’ is over yet.  But I am holding his muddy hand tightly and he doesn’t seem to be letting go of mine.  We have seen some of our ugliest parts, but here we are going strong at the ten year mark.  So although I am beyond grateful for those amazing, happy moments we have shared, I am appreciating those shitty moments today.  Those moments that show the true strength of our marriage.

Looking back on our wedding day, it predicted so much of how our lives have been. So much planning and great things that went into the day.  But all that planning went out the window and we were forced to roll with the punches.  My white dress was covered in mud.  But I took that muddy dress and danced all night.  We may still be walking in the symbolic rain down that muddy aisle in our marriage, but there is some pretty awesome dance music coming our way.  We will dance our hearts out, covered in mud, holding each others hands tightly while we spin and laugh.

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Moving forward through my fear

I wrote not too long ago about going to see my dad (my abuser) again.  I couldn’t truly articulate why I felt the need to do it.  No one else really thought it was a good idea.  My husband and I even had some heated arguments about it.  I’m pretty sure my therapist didn’t understand why I needed to do it either, but she respected that it was something I felt that I needed to do.  They both feared it would send me into another dark spiral.  Truthfully, I feared the same, but something in me told me I needed to do it.

I emailed my dad and told him that I wanted to see him and my stepmom, but I set a lot of ground rules up before going.  I told him that just because I was meeting with him, didn’t mean that I was ready to see him regularly.  I may meet with him this once and want to see him again the next week or I may not want to see him for a couple more years.  I was playing it by ear.  I also stated that I wasn’t looking to debate and rehash my memories of who did what and when.  I learned from the last confrontation that that type of interaction will only lead me to second guess myself, and send me into a dark spiral of self-hatred.  I knew I wasn’t strong enough for that level of confrontation again.  I told him that I just wanted to see him and hear how things were going in his life, how the rest of the family was doing, and to just let him know where I was with everything.

Ever since my memories started to surface and come to head, turning my entire life upside down and questioning everything, I clung to the hope of validation.  Someone to tell me the horrors in my mind had actually happened.  I felt that I couldn’t move forward with healing until I figured out what was real and what was my imagination.  Since there is no replay button for my childhood, I was looking to my family for that validation.  Unfortunately, they are the last ones that would be willing to admit anything because it is too risky for them.  Their safety lies in maintaining that facade that I was raised in.  I began to realize that if I was relying on their help to heal, I would spin in this never ending darkness forever.  I needed to detach my healing from being contingent on my family speaking their own truth.  I can’t control them and their healing, so I should stop letting them control mine.  This sounds simple and obvious as I write it out now, but I had do some serious soul searching to reach this realization.  And realizing it and actually following through with it are two very different things.

Despite realizing this, I know that I can’t quite remove them from my life completely.  Well, I can but only with the consequence of removing myself from all family functions and gatherings as well and struggling with my own self-inflected guilt.  That is a sacrifice I am not willing to make.  I have a large, great family and I miss them terribly.  So I needed to find a way to be true to myself and my feelings and be present with the people who have hurt me at my core all without getting sent into the darkness of self-hatred.  That, my friends, is not an easy feat.  But meeting with my dad was going to be the first step.

So after setting the ground rules, we found a day to meet.  I had planned it a week in advance which left me with plenty of time to get anxious and have a million possible scenarios play through my head.  But each time some horrible scenario came to mind, I just kept telling myself that it can’t be worse than the last time I saw him and I shockingly survived that (the darkness that followed nearly killed me, but I got through it).  That week had lots of deep breaths, running, stretching and dancing to try to stay in my body and grounded in the present moment.  It took serious effort to not let myself go down the panic route.  But as that week progressed and the meeting came closer, I realized that the mere fact that I was trying to stay in my body and grounded proved to myself that I was in a much better place than I was a year ago at the initial confrontation.

The day came and started off like any other morning.  Getting the kids ready for school, drinking some coffee (although my nerves had me wired enough and I couldn’t manage to get myself to eat), hugging my babes goodbye in front of their classrooms, and then I was off driving down the highway.  It was so much like other days that it was easy for me to pretend that this was no big deal, but as I approached his driveway, my heart sank.  My body broke out in a cold sweat and I thought I was going to hurl right there in front of his house.   I tried to take a moment to gather my composure, but as I took a deep breath, I looked out the window and saw my dad walking towards my car.  There goes my idea of my entrance being on my terms and there goes any time I had to gather my sanity.  Here goes nothing.

It was amazing how much we went through the motions like things were as they always had been.  We hugged each other and he began to ask questions about the kids.  For the first half hour we talked about my daughter losing her first tooth, learning to ride a bike and her reading ability.  We joked of my son’s sense of humor, fearlessness, and second set of stitches.  I heard about what is going on with some of my cousins and my step siblings.  He told me of his upcoming trips and what is going on with his health.

We settled so quickly back into our old groove.  But I needed to break that.  Things can never be as they were.  I started to tell him how I am still struggling with depression and anxiety, but that I feel like I am starting to make progress with my therapist.  I told him that I have symptoms of PTSD which often means that seemingly mundane things can trigger a panic attack, that I can often feel like I am reliving scenes from my childhood.  I let him know that because of these things it has made it difficult to work sometimes and it has put a huge strain on my marriage.  I also shared that, in addition to these symptoms, I also have a dissociative disorder that has made me lose chunks of time, lose control of my body, and has crippled me in many ways.  He just looked at me while I spoke, sometimes turning to look at the floor.  He would occasionally nod to acknowledge that he was listening.  It was an awkward conversation with lots of moments of uncomfortable silence, but he didn’t challenge me.

The whole conversation was bizarre.  I felt numb as I described myself.  I’m not sure how much he understood what I said.  And if he did understand the depths of what I was explaining, I have no idea how much he attributed my struggles to his actions when I was a kid.  Part of me was screaming inside to have him say he was sorry, to acknowledge something of my past.  But I know that will never be.  But what did happen was me speaking my truth to him about where I am and what I struggle with.  I wasn’t placing blame.  I wasn’t pointing fingers.  His ability to face his own truth is on him and I can’t force him to do that.  That is his healing, not mine.  I write this as if it is something that I truly feel and grasp wholeheartedly.  And part of me does.  But it something that I have to chant to myself over and over again.  Consciously telling myself to let go of that need for validation from my family.  I need to remind myself of this again and again.  I say this to myself every day now.  EVERY.  DAY.  I am coming to terms with my truth.  Everyone else will do that on their own terms.  And my healing is NOT dependent on their healing.  I repeat: my healing is NOT dependent on their healing.

My dad didn’t say much in response to my sharing of my symptoms.  He asked some questions to clarify what I meant by losing chunks of time, if i was taking medication, and about how my husband was responding to everything.  He then asked when he would see my kids again and all I could tell him was I don’t know.  I told him I am playing everything by ear.  I left him with some pictures of my kids and their gorgeous smiles and got up to go.  We hugged again before leaving.  As we embraced there was  part of me that wanted to run so fast, part of me felt like I was going to collapse, and part of me wanted to cling to my dad so hard because I miss him so much.  Such contradicting emotions that spiraled into one.  But my body continued on as if I was fine as usual.  I got in the car, buckled my seat belt, and pulled out of the driveway.

As I pulled away from his house, I also left my feelings.  Somewhere on that drive that numb switch went all the way on.  My body went through the motions of the day like any other day.  But I was numb inside.  I struggled to find words to anything that had happened.  For a week or so I felt like an empty body just going through the motions.  I am slowly starting to get some feelings back, but that numb feeling comes in waves.  It makes me slightly fearful as to what my body is numbing myself from.  What is lurking in the corners of my mind?  What emotional tsunami is about to hit after this numbness wears off?

So, although I think I still have a lot to process from this interaction and my mind clearly is still somewhat in shock that I just went through with it, so far I have not completely spiraled into darkness.  I’m numb, but I’m not dark.  And, for now, I’m thinking that is ok.  The gravity of this will probably hit me in doses (hopefully small ones instead of that tsunami)  But my dad saw me.  He saw me and heard my symptoms.  I’m still here.  I’m still standing.