Recently I noticed feelings coming up about my parents, my Mom in particular. Feelings of anger. At first I was baffled. We had a difficult relationship. I think on many levels I annoyed her. We were opposites. I was soft, shy and very naive. My parents were very street wise and outgoing. It must have confused them over the course of our lives together how their first born could be so unlike them, so much so that for many years I believed I was adopted.
Not one to shy away from healing on any level, I confronted them about many incidents that I felt I was wronged. By the time they passed away, both relatively young, I thought we had put to rest much of our difficult history.
My Dad worked long hard hours on one business or another and was absent much of my life growing up. I remember waiting long summer days for Daddy to come home and spend time with us. When he did come home he was exhausted and had nothing left for us. “Later” he would always say and later never happened. Eventually I stopped asking. When I did something wrong or even silly out of my naivete’ he was critical, sometimes with humour and other times with impatience. Either way it hurt deeply because of my sensitive nature. We ended up with a very distant relationship where I didn’t know him, and I don’t think he knew me, and I always felt nervous around him. I know we loved each other, but we didn’t know one another.
My Mom also worked very hard on their businesses. Often juggling work hours with home duties. As I approached my teen years our relationship became more aggravated. And her drinking became more obvious.
By the time I was 14 she wasn’t sober much at all. And I was her scapegoat. Her verbal battering ram. Everything that bothered her would come out at me in a twisted fashion making me feel that I couldn’t do anything good or right.
These encounters were very painful, yet I could see the wise beautiful fun-loving woman she was and always forgave the outbursts thinking I deserved it. As most kids do, I took on the responsibility of our relationship.
Over many years I tried to find a way to get along with her, to not wake the dragon. And for many years I would end up broken. The only way I could cope was to remove myself from her for long periods of time.
When she was dying I was glad. Not because she was dying. I was glad because we had put to bed the past. I felt we ended on a good note. I understood the life my parents had was very hard. They grew up in harsh households. My Dad’s stepfather was brutally mean to my Dad any chance he got. My Mom’s mom was an alcoholic and prostitute leaving her young kids alone for up to 10 days at a time while she went on a binge. Then Foster care. My Mom was in several foster homes in a very short period of time. Many traumatic events imprinted in her mind forever. My parents had me very young. I understood they did the best they knew how, and I thought that was enough.
Now at 54 all this anger is coming up to greet me again. Shit! Now I understand what my wise Mother meant by “Understanding is the booby prize of life.” Meaning I can forgive their actions only so far, but at some point I have to acknowledge my feelings. While they did the best they knew how this doesn’t mean there wasn’t collateral damage.
I feel anger at being treated harshly when my personality type doesn’t require harsh treatment to change course. I feel angry that my Dad wasn’t there to protect and guide us through the mine field of Mom. I feel angry that my Mom loved my sisters more and better than she did me. And that I was her verbal and sometimes physical punching bag for so many years. I am angry that I wasn’t nurtured in the way I felt all children deserve, so much so that a crying child really upsets me.
What I do know is we must feel our feelings in order for them to float away. As a child I pushed down the anger so much that I have struggled with depression of various depths my entire life. As a child I took on the broken parts of our family as if it was my fault and buried my true feelings. Now that I am in a safe place in my life these buried emotions are coming to the surface.
As I deal with another layer of my onion I share these truths with you so that you may gain some insight to your own journey. Feel the feelings as they happen, especially the so called negative ones or they will come back after living in your cells for a lifetime to be reckoned with once and for all. This takes courage. Here’s to the courageous soul in every one of us.