When I became a single mother, I knew it was going to be hard. I knew there would be a lot of guessing, especially since I didn’t have real parents. I knew it would be a tremendous strain on my energy, time and finances. I knew I would want to pull out my hair. I even knew it would be scary. But nothing could prepare me for my relationship with my little boy. Nothing could prepare me for the doubt, confusion and downright terror that come with raising a little boy, as a single mother, with no father-figure in his life.
I have made mistakes. I have spent much of the past seven years learning how a little boy is supposed to act. I don’t mean the societal norm that has been set for boys. I mean their innate tendencies that are so critical to their positive growth … the tendencies that society suppresses. I now understand that boys never stop moving … ever. I get that boys want to learn with their entire body and soul. I have come to realize that a full-fledged attack on my physical being is just another way of saying “I love you.” I have also learned about the male bathroom etiquette. Unfortunately, it was a little too late to avoid an embarrassing incident. I will always have a little guilt about that. Continue reading
I grew up in a sexist family. They subscribed to an extreme sexism that justified rape and torture of little girls and women. It was the worst kind of sexism. My father was very clear that all things feminine were not just bad, but evil. Of course, his idea of the feminine was fed by society, so even his choice of what to hate was distorted.
He let me know that my body was evil. My body caused him to rape me. My body caused him to have desires that he could not control. My body was a source of shame and guilt because I was a girl. Keep in mind that I was younger than 10 years old at the time. Continue reading
I have yet to meet an honest mother who isn’t completely insecure about motherhood. It is the hardest job on this planet. Motherhood targets our triggers. To put it a different way, it brings up everything that scares us to death. For some of us, we are scared more easily than others. Anxiety can be inhibiting when it comes to making sound parenting decisions. But I think the most grounded mothers are insecure at some points.
From the beginning, I have been convinced I am damaging my children in every way. I am too overprotective. I am not watching them closely enough. My discipline is too inconsistent. I am not spending enough time with them. I am not pushing them hard enough. They are not involved in enough extra-curricular activities. I am not feeding them right. I am missing out on their one true calling by not embracing who they are. I am too tired to dress up like a Disney character and run around the house with them, so they will never develop a healthy sense of self. Continue reading
I have been thinking about a popular quote by Marianne Williamson the past few days.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.”
I am a huge fan of Marianne Williamson, so I have heard this quote many times. And honestly, it has never been my favorite. I have always found it counter-intuitive. Who would not want to be powerful beyond measure? Of course, when I ask this question, I am defining “powerful” using our standard societal norms. Powerful means money. Powerful means importance. Powerful means influence. Continue reading
Everyone has a dark side. Of course, some are darker than others. My dark side is pretty dark. Countless rapes and beatings can turn a heart cold. I have known about my anger for many years. I am comfortable with my anger. I know how to express it safely. Nobody gets hurt. I acknowledge the anger. And eventually, I am able to integrate those feelings. And I feel a little more whole.
My latest memories are dark. After 6 years of recovery work, these memories are exposing a level of rage that even surprises me. It is definitely not my standard anger. It is different. I don’t feel mad. I don’t feel anything at all. There is no empathy and compassion. There is no acknowledgment that others have feelings. This rage doesn’t care if others live or die. It is scary. And it is probably what drives a person to murder. Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago, my external life took a back seat to my internal life. Although my external life is pretty good these days, my internal life is pretty ugly. It is a series of traumatic experiences with emotions to match. When it is time to pay attention to the internal life, it means my childhood memories are coming back. And I had better pay attention. I had better be ready for some depression, some sadness, some anger that rivals a toddler’s tantrums, some anxiety and some intense exhaustion. Needless to say, the external life starts to slow down a bit.
Don’t get me wrong, the basic stuff still happens. The kids eat. They go to school. I go to work. But phone calls get missed. The emails pile up. And obviously, the writing just doesn’t happen. There are entire nights of staring at the wall. There are a lot of naps. There are many self-care visits to therapeutic practitioners. Over the years, I have learned what it takes to face the memories. These coping mechanisms are critical to my recovery. If I don’t do them, there will be one result. I will get sick. I will get so sick that there will be no external life. Everything will stop. And as a single mother, that is simply not an option. Continue reading
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