Sunday, May 14, 2017

Reclaiming Mother's Day

I have a confession about Mother's Day.

Mother's Day always makes me feel awkward and kind of alone. Okay, that's not entirely true. Mother's Day is almost always great. Mother's *DAY* is full of cards from my kids and sweetness from my husband. I rarely have a bad Mother's Day anymore.

But there's this horrible process that I fight through almost every year. Maybe every year? I try not to dwell on it when it's over. The days leading up to Mother's Day are usually awful. Culminating in an eventual breakdown in front of my poor husband.

Here's the thing about me. If you've read my blog for long then you know that I've openly shared my story of depression. That seems emotional and deep-ish and vulnerable, right? The truth is, that kind of honesty - rather, the reaching of that kind of honesty, was tough. It wasn't immediately natural. So now that I've shared that raw and painful part of who I am, I deal with this nagging fear that any other "vulnerable" shares or stories that I might put out there will pile on to the existing narrative, painting me as a fragile human being -- someone who is emotional and broken.

And here's where that thing about me shows up. I'm actually not super emotional. I'm human and I have my moments, but my husband often tells me how... un-female? that I seem since I'm pretty logical and less led by emotions. I don't entirely buy into the whole "females are just so unbearably emotional" narrative but that's another subject. The exceptions to my control are things that appeal to my maternal instincts now that I have kids. Show me suffering and I am WRECKED. But yelling and stomping and losing my crapola? I really prefer to just get alone or have a conversation and sort stuff out. Yeah. Sorry. Just bear with me. I'm not bragging. You'll see.

Mother's Day lead-up screws with me like nothing else. I dread it for the entirety of pre-Mother's-Day May.

And I cannot stop it. My typical, logical, just-make-sure-the-house-is-clean-and-I'll-feel-better-about-things mentality runs away and waves at me from across some massive ocean placed right in the middle of LOL GOOD LUCK, USA.

There is no amount of logic or control that will save me. I don't think there's any amount of love that could save me from it either just yet.

My Mom was abusive.

I have to sit for a beat after I write that. Someone will get upset. Candi said the a-word. Yeah. I did. The mental games and the physical altercations, although less frequent than the mental jacking, were real. They happened to me.

I haven't seen my mom in something like three and a half years. My kids do not see her. I know what she has done to me and some of what she has done to others. I know the things that she has said and continues to say about myself and my siblings. The threats. The always-deniable threats and horrible things.

Mother's Day screws with me. What terrible lottery meant that I didn't deserve a mother who adored me? Why am I still so dang tender there after all of these years? I have so much. That's the internal dialogue that I live with. I should be okay. I should be fine by now. I should be over it.

This brings me to the only reason why I'm putting my fingers on the keyboard and talking today. Speaking the truth though my virtual voice shakes.

It feels like no one else feels this pain surrounding Mother's Day. And just to be clear - I had an awesome Mother's Day today. As usual, the day is great. But the lead-up was terrible.

I am not broken. I am not pathetic. I am not fragile. I remind myself of this all of the time. Pain is universal, although the catalyst for that pain varies so widely. Some scars stay tender.

I am not sad today. I am grateful. But I'm going to speak the truth. Sometimes mothers hurt us, too. Sometimes we aren't ever good enough. Sometimes you look back at a good season in your relationship with a toxic person and ask why things couldn't stay that way. And then you wonder if they were ever as good as they seemed. How could things turn ugly so fast over and over?

It's likely that there is no one or not many who know this particular pain in my Facebook feed or in whatever circle this post will find itself shared. It's possible. But I am writing it just in case.

If you find yourself feeling not-yourself before Mother's Day - a holiday that is so worth celebrating. A holiday that I hope my kids look forward to as I grow old. Celebration I strive to be worthy of every day. If that's you? You are so not by yourself. But it's getting a little bit better every year, I think. And that gives me hope. I hope it gives you hope, too.

And again.

I'm okay. I'm okay right now. I will probably be not okay the week before next Mother's Day. But I'm tired of no one talking about this and I don't know what else to do but to start.

And if anyone decides to show this to my mom, even though that's not the purpose of this blog - Mom? I will always love you. But you cannot be in my life right now and that will not change without a long period of stable behavior and some sincere apologies. I have no hate in my heart for you. I pray for your heart to truly change. I pray that it is possible. Even though you think I'm going to Hell and you think I'm less than nothing. I still pray for you.

And I'm okay. You hurt me over and over. You hurt my siblings - some of the people I love more than anything in the world. You still hurt me when I relive the damage. I feel certain that you won't get it. You will scoff and, once again, say that I am spiteful. But I'm living my life and gosh, Mom, it's so beautiful. You have no idea. My kids are so great. My husband gets better every year. You are missing so much, and as of right now, that can't change.

So here we are. I'm at Starbucks on Mother's Day because my husband, even with his poor injured back, is holding down the crazy fort so I can spend some time reflecting here as I sip my Americano.

I have so much gratitude in my heart right now.

To Paula - my friend and adopted-by-love mom, thanks for coming to see me and managing to show up for me without making it weird that you know Mother's Day kind of sucks for me. You're a true gem. I'm grateful for you.

Hubby, thanks for seeing through the awfulness that is Pre Mother's Day at our home. Thanks for reminding me that I'm not failing. I don't know how God picked someone so suited to hear my heart and really see me - this sassy, analytical, technical girl who is still kind of messed up.

Everyone who has read this, I hope that you can't relate. I hope you have no idea how this feels. I hope that gets to be your story. But if not, I hope you're okay, or at least almost okay. And if you're not even close, please know that at the very least, you are so not alone.

Dad, I love you and you are such an example of unconditional love. That's my favorite thing about you. You have never let pride be more important than love. That's what it's all about. That's it. That's parenthood and relationships in a nutshell. Thank you for modeling it. For being sorry when it's time to be sorry and protecting me to the best of your ability. I'm so grateful for you, you hilarious, corny man.

I could go on, but I can't name everyone fairly. There are too many beautiful people in my life who have made it worth the trek up and out of fear and depression. My siblings, in-laws, friends, church family - thanks for every time you listened.

I hope this story is helpful to someone. It's not a cry for pity. It's just that this is my story. And I'm going to tell the truth and let it set me free.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Monday Flowers, TV and Books

Look who suckered Mom into planting flowers today?

That is not what I went to Wal-Mart for. I was actually browsing for cilantro plants, also not what I went to Wal-Mart for, and the selection was sad and frail. Someone broke out the "Please, Mommy" and I left with more than the potting soil I planned to grab to re-pot AJ's sunflower seedlings from her first grade classroom.

Here we are planting Cosmos that we just hope aren't doomed. Why are we trying this again? What did I smoke today?

She looks awfully cute shoveling potting mix, doesn't she?

We tossed the remainder of our potting mix into a barren flower bed and scattered our leftover seeds there. 

Here are our re-homed sunflower seedlings just before I moved them to a sunnier spot. I hold out hope that I can stop killing things. We'll see.

The kids are outside while I remind them occasionally to stay out there and soak up the vitamin D. Guyyyys. Trust me, you need this. The hotter days are coming. Bask in this perfect seventy degrees. Bask. In. It.

I got randomly sucked into a reality TV series recently, which is really not like me. Dumb reality shows tend to make me roll my eyes, and even "good" ones tend to be too cheesy or staged for me to stay with for long. This weird series (okay, it was Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars if you must know) threw me hard into the re-realization of how. much. relational dysfunction is really in the world. Far from giving me a feeling of self-righteousness, it reminded me how easy it is to find yourself floundering in an ocean of immature and toxic characters and lifestyles if you aren't grounded in the presence of people who have good goals and healthy boundaries. And for many people, those toxic circles feel impossible to escape because once there you can't see how bad it really is or how far you need to remove yourself to escape it. Your vibe so attracts your tribe. And your tribe so matters.

In unrelated news, I picked up a new-to-me book last week - Black Like Me - all about a white journalist's immersion into black culture in 1959 through a process of darkening his skin via medication and stain. This specific perspective is rare if not unheard-of aside from his specific project. The process of having lived as both black and white (however impossible it would be for a person to fully experience life as a different race than their own - and I freely acknowledge that it is not in fact entirely possible) allowed John Howard Griffin to offer a voice that was obviously unique in his time within predominantly white circles. It was a revealing and candid look into racial inequalities in the south during the late 20th century. His accounts of patronizing tolerance painted as non-racism were so well-stated, and I would love to hear the perspectives of others who have read this book. There are a vast number of topics covered in this book that are so worthy of discussion. Book club, anyone?

Our sweet neighbor brought us a delicious-looking dinner and I'm off to enjoy it. Thanks for reading, friends. And happy Monday to you. <3