There are a few things I have noticed in writing this week that I thought I should mention in a separate post and they have to do with how I process this information and what I think about after I publish. I mean, I’ve had some of these posts in my drafts for 4-5 years. There’s this side of me that worries that if I write something, my world will turn upside-down. Because for almost all of my childhood, if I had ever told anyone even a slight hint of what I was experiencing, often times, there was some of that disbelief (“that sounds odd, are you sure?”) and if I even tried to push back directly to my mother, there was the reaction that I was “a liar” or I had grossly misunderstood — “how can you even think that is what I said?” or perhaps my sharing with someone outside of the family led to embarrassment of her, and I would definitely pay for that. All of that led me to stay silent on the issues going forward/for the majority of my childhood.
First and foremost, I deal with some anxiety. I have it under control, so it’s not all-consuming. But the reason I’ve been reserved regarding this part of my personality on this blog is because it’s not a comfortable thing to put out there. I’m not going to lie, for all the years that I’ve been inspired to share this information about myself, my family, my life, what has held me back is this nagging question: “What is the purpose?” Secondly, and to continue on the anxiety train of thought, I have worried about whether it’s all too personal to share with the world — after all, I am one of five children who lived this life — though we all took different paths through adolescence. I’ve tried to focus only on MY experience and MY feelings and tried to avoid projecting that onto my siblings. But, there’s the worry that it’s not enough. Finally, (and this is my torment), I think about what my mother would say to me, or what she will say to me, the next time we talk.
Most of my conversations with my mother are one-sided — she usually spends time talking about my two siblings and their families that live close to her. She will tell me how awesome of a family my sister and brother and their 6 (#7 due in a month) children are. She intersperses it with, “I just don’t know how she does it with all those kids!” and then she usually inserts some comment about how she relates so well to us kids since she raised five “all on her own!” Then she’ll gush about my brother and his wife and their four boys. Most likely, she’ll remind me of the miracle of their 4th child and how she was there to stay with the other three while my brother and his wife stayed at the hospital through a procedure designed to mitigate/eliminate the damage from lack of oxygen during childbirth. At some point, she’ll say how she just can’t keep up with the number of birthdays for all the grandkids, “there’s just so many of them!” finally, she’ll wander off in the conversation explaining the newest computer or gadget she has purchased or the litany of reasons that she hasn’t been to see us since Dominic was about 11 months old (he’s now 8), or how they are planning to attend this or that reunion for her husband which will require quite a bit of travel — but that travel to come this way is just too difficult for them. A few years ago she changed up their diet to eliminate sugars and processed foods and I got to hear how the weight was just melting off of her, she just can’t believe how thin she is and how great she looks…yada yada yada. Additionally, she will search for affirmations from me — whether it is about what a good mother she was/is, or that can I believe that her sister is so mean to her, or that even her husband was not impressed with how so-and-so was treating her, and (I could go on, but I won’t).
So having written a bit more personally this week has had me wondering how our conversations might change and I realize that they probably won’t change one bit.
And now, I ask myself again, “What is the purpose? What do I hope to accomplish?” (with this particular string of writing/posts)?
I’ll admit that part of the purpose is self-serving — it makes me feel better to write about it. Why publicly, though? I mean, I could write about this in a journal that I keep entirely to myself. I would be writing about it. So what is it about writing it here for others to read and share the experience?
- Validation. I think in my heart of hearts, seeing it written here — taking the action of sharing and writing it here — helps me remember that it is real, that what I experienced actually happened and it wasn’t just “in my head” and I am not overreacting or overly sensitive.
- Support. On my Blog’s Facebook page for my most recent posts, I had 9 “likes.” That’s a record, by the way. And every person that “liked” it helped me feel as though it was okay and even good that I wrote it.
- Call it out. How many times throughout my life have I excused away bad behavior? I could not tell you. I still do it. I still excuse people for their poor choices in words or actions, even (and especially) when their poor choice in words or actions hurt me. (Interesting side note: I never seem to excuse it away if it hurts my children.) But writing here helps me call out the bad behavior — name it, process it, assign my reaction to it and finally file it away or gain closure.
- Finally, I think using this space helps me heal. Writing in a journal where no one can see would continue to keep it hidden, in a way. I’ve hidden how I feel all of my life. I’ve ignored it. I’ve berated myself for not feeling more affection for a woman for whom all the world tells me deserves my devotion and abiding admiration.
So, this helps me to heal. It helps me to remember that I can’t change anyone. It helps me to move forward with proper expectations for my relationship with my mother. Maybe the fact that it matters to me is all I need.