I spent two hours yesterday at my kids’ school, sitting in a room with a whole team of people. The purpose was to go step by step through a document for my youngest. The day before, I had been sent the entire 15 page document, and by the time I was done reading through it, I was sobbing. Why? Because seeing all of the things that he is having a really difficult time with and I know that are really frustrating for him laid out in such a compact way is heart wrenching. It’s a sucker punch to the gut, and I couldn’t really hold back the feelings that I had/have failed him. But that isn’t true. It isn’t true at all.
Six years ago, when I was about 28 weeks pregnant with him, I felt so overwhelmed and scared as his birth day drew closer. They had given me a date for a scheduled c-section, but something at the back of my mind kept telling me that he would never make it to that date. From the moment my water broke 6 weeks later, to the moment I first laid eyes on his full head of hair, I knew he was going to shake my world, and was going to make his own way in life. I promised myself that I would fight to the death for him, until he was able to fight for himself. And I would spend as much time as I could giving him the tools he will need for when its time for him to fight for himself.
Why am I writing all of this? Because sitting in that room with a whole team of people who are so strongly coming alongside me to help support and care for my youngest made me sad for an entirely other reason. As we all literally half argued over a decision about how much or how much more support we could give him, it brought forth a little memory of my mother never, ever fighting for me. The very thing I have done since both of my children came earth side, I never got from either parent growing up. And this is part of how I’m breaking those generation cycles of trauma and abuse. I willingly shed tears over my children’s pain, and with them when their hearts hurt. I go to bat for them, even when it’s a cost to myself. Because I am their parent, and I believe them worthy of respect and honor and care and love as full human beings.
As I’ve been ponding and processing the past year, and comparing where I was a year ago to where I am today, two big themes have arisen. 1, I have been so much more incredibly intentional this year, and that’s forced me to really consider and take that much more seriously any and all decisions and choices I’ve made. 2, I have made huge steps forward with my sexuality and gender presentation this year, and I say “Take THAT purity culture.” The insidious ways the way I was raised when it came to sex and sexuality and gender are still trying to cause havoc though. The way I was forced into a carefully curated box as a very young child is something still valid of the grief I feel when I hold and see that younger self.
It is something that as I watch both of my children grow and expand happily and contentedly in their own selves, the grief of my younger selves never having been allowed to do that gets a little bit louder. But it isn’t a grief that overwhelms, or dampens any of the pride I now hold for myself. It is a grief that sits side by side with the happiness and pride I feel now. And it is a grief that comes up when I fight for my youngest, because I am also fighting for my younger selves. The more I hold my youngest and give him pieces of my strength until he’s strong enough, the more I have to then sit with my youngest self and remind them that they are safe and seen and held.
I have worked hard this year bringing some of my childhood dreams to life. Including bringing home two kittens over the summer. Two kittens that have grown [and are continuing to grow] into beautiful and cuddly and playful cats. My black void Freya is huge now, and I know she’s only going to get bigger….something about being part Norwegian forest, Maine Coon, and Ragdoll…three of the biggest domesticated cat breeds. But my baby Athena is a delicate, yet fierce, elegant shorthair with a tabby hood and cape over her pure white feet and legs. Growing up with a dad who was deathly allergic to cats meant that I never got to spend time around animals, or cats, and the prospect of having a childhood pet was drastically negative. So bringing these two little beings home has given me so much joy and pleasure over simply having these animals who have chosen me as much as I chose them.
I guess that’s also been a rather significant theme of this past year too – I have only chosen people who have also chosen me. All others I have walked away from. I am done giving out energy that is not reciprocated. And before you come after me, I absolutely and always hold space for when I need to give me than I am given, and vice versa. That’s life, and I believe there is a lot of beauty and love in that. But when I give and I choose, and I am not given or chosen back, that’s when I say I’m done. Here in December, I can look back and mark each time this past year I walked away. There’s credence to that phase “life’s too short to….” Life really is too short to keep holding on to people who don’t care to hold on to me. I walked away from several people this year who I have know for more than 2/3s of my life. One I chose to walk away because of horrible differences in beliefs of people’s value and lives. Another I walked away because it became painfully obvious that I was the only one still trying to keep the relationship going.
It isn’t worth it to have people in your life who aren’t willingly and lovingly choosing you. My life is more peaceful, more loving, more full of joy because the people who surround me are those who have chosen me and I have chosen them. And those who have left, or I’ve walked away, I wish them the best, and I put them out of my mind. I have fought too long to have even a tiny measure of peace, and now that I have what I have, I’m going to protect that with all that I am.
In just less than a week we have the Winter Solstice. A day that I am excited to see arrive. It is the shortest day of the year, and it marks the turning point of when we stop the descent and begin our climb back to the sun and light. As I gaze around my house and take in the ways I’ve decorated for the Yule season, I feel grateful for the things I’ve come through this year. I am grateful for the mentors who have mirrored me back to me and helped me shift and change. I am grateful for a therapist who has a wealth of information about better understanding how my brain works, and who holds a safe container space where I can be brutally honest with myself.
There were a number of sessions this year where I sat down and started with, well, I don’t like how I feel about this, and I know I’m at fault. I am thankful my therapist didn’t let me fawn or take unnecessary fault and blame though. She always pushed back and reframed a situation and helped me question if I was really the problem or not. A new goal for this coming year is to stop taking responsibility for situations that is not mine to hold. And even if that means having to sit there and watch someone else destroy things because they won’t take responsibility, then I’ll do that. Which let me tell you, it is excruciating to sit back in silence and watch someone, whether they realize it or not, destroy a once beautiful thing because they can’t or won’t say “this is on me.”
I have been taking on the responsibility of everyone else for way too long. Almost all of my life up to this point, I have been guilt tripped and manipulated more times than I can count to be the only one to say “I’m sorry.” My parents used to pointedly tell me that they knew because of my “sensitive conscious” that I would make the “right” decisions. They would tell me that they could count on me to always apologize. Maybe it’s building it a wall around my heart, but I think it’s more of a gate that only a few have the key to the inner sanctum. Those who I trust and love and choose have free access to my heart and my love, but those who try to replicate what my parents did to me, I’m afraid they are banned forever.
I’m so done with having to guard against being manipulated. I am so done with being treated passive aggressively and having to play games with “are they upset with me or not?” I pledge to myself that I will not play those games anymore. I will not participate in childish teenage drama, I don’t have anymore time for that in my life. I want to live as fully as I can, and as responsibly as I can. And that means putting away the things that do pull me back instead of pushing me forward!
Do you know how oddly good is feels to look at a situation and go yep I definitely was in the wrong there? Like it’s empowering, and motivating, to apologize and accept responsibility for my own mistakes and missteps. Is it uncomfortable, and really vulnerable? Yes, but it really does feel good. It’s reclaiming my own power and building it up even stronger. I remember how when I was a child my parents would take any apology as a sign of weakness. When I would apologize it meant that I had played into their hands. It made me vulnerable, and not in a good way. And it often made me feel like I had been backed into a corner with no way out but to say “I’m sorry.” I think because I have been so intentional and careful about who I allow to be that close to me, I no longer feel like an apology, an acknowledgment of my wrong doing, is a dangerously vulnerable thing.
With only two more weeks of this year, and the solstice this coming Wednesday, I’m trying to find some sort of “christmas” spirit. Honestly, I’m really content with how things are, I’m looking forward to being together with some of my siblings, and having a house full of pets, and happy kids’ voices as their uncles get down on their levels. Things feel really intentional and precious this year. I’m rebuilding a solid relationship with one of my [eight] siblings, and I’m really grateful for that. I maybe have found an editor for my book. It’s a little surprising to me that the majority of people I looked into would only take 10k words or less. I’m sitting here with just over 100k words, and still with a chapter unfinished. But I found someone who is a queer person, and we’re going to start talking about timelines and pricing for the oh so many words I have written. Who knows, maybe a release date of midsummer will be possible.