First of all let me say Happy Mother’s Day to all the GREAT Mom’s out there! I have three VERY different boys and I love that I know what is in their hearts and can read them so well. Congrats to all of the great Mother’s out there who sacrifice so much, including my own! I love you Mom, Happy Mother’s Day!
I do not normally watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta. I confess I do like Beverly Hills, and New York City, mostly because I can really relate to some of them. Tonight, I tuned into the wrap up of Atlanta when NeNe Leaks breaks down over her Mother leaving her and has to leave the set. Wow, I was feeling those tears. I have always suspected she may have some abandonment issues due to her fierce survival skills, and her fiery temper. I wondered if she had ever sought counseling or help for these issues. There is a difference between telling the story, and really getting the help you need to move on. A very big difference. What I have learned is that until you really go through the stages of that grief, you will never fully be free of it.
Having said that. When I first began this journey with my Ghostwriter I gave her some things that I absolutely would not discuss. My family was one of them. I also told my awesome Ph.D. who was helping me with these issues that I would never discuss certain things. NEVER. Slowly after seeing him for over a year he started to pull it out of me. We had one session, that I sobbed like a baby and confessed things I never thought would leave my lips. It had to have been the hardest day of my life. I came home so physically and emotionally drained, paralyzed, I couldn’t make it from the garage to my bedroom fast enough.
As a Mother, you naturally don’t want to let your children see you in pain, physical or emotional. I carry a great deal of guilt about the fact that I know they have. I know they understand my medical condition, and that it concerns them. What they don’t know is that I feel each of them so deeply. When my oldest was in Afghanistan, I cried every day in the shower, most times so my youngest child would not hear me. Everyone kept saying, he’s well-trained he will be fine. There is just something in your gut that tells you it’s not going to be fine. I knew it was only a matter of time when I would get the call that he was hurt. That call came ironically, when I was in the hospital being diagnosed for my blood disease, being told it was Hereditary and to have my children tested. There was something in me that just knew. I could describe different experiences with each of my children where my gut was screaming at me, there is something wrong. Some of the things I was able to help ease the pain with, some not. It is why I carried a great deal of resentment in my own situation, because I felt my parents should just know. That is not always the case. Especially when I was the child who gave half-truths, and didn’t tell it all for fear of the shame it would cause my family.
What I have learned. –
Much like the steps of a treatment program, there is a process. I thought I had beat my past because I was successful, I was a survivor, nothing could keep me down, I would be the one to beat it, and did not need to talk about it or deal with it. Those things were for people who play the victim, and I was no victim. Hell NO. I would not be kept down for long if I fell.
This strategy only works for so long before you become screwed up beyond all recognition of yourself and are desperate to unlock the closed-door and use REAL bravery to step inside and DEAL with it. It takes courage beyond any business deal, and any other situation where you have put on your “mask” smiled sweetly and said there is nothing wrong with me, I am normal like everyone else. Except, I wasn’t.
I was on a mission to fight physical pain and overcome health obstacles with diet, exercise, and a cleaner way of life. I began that process a year ago. Here is the trick, you can only go so far with that before you mind starts haunting you at night and in your dreams. It’s there, you know it’s there, do you have the courage to let it out and go through the process? It resembles a death, a tragedy, that must be taken seriously in order to effectively move on. So, I knew I had too.
The breakdown at my Doctor’s office was long overdue and I’m not sure that I have ever cried like that before. I know I have never been so honest about it. Slogans like, it’s in the past, it was so long ago, I’m over it, and I can handle anything had become my crutches. I had many people handing me those crutches and saying, you are such a survivor, look at all the medical drama you have been through, the success that has been had, and you have made it! Had I really? No.
“Sperm Donor” as he is referred to in the book is my biological Father. It does not matter if you had the greatest step-father on the planet, the abandonment issues caused by him amongst other things, had left a very real, very deep scar, and one that couldn’t be wished away. I cannot count the times he told me he didn’t love me. I cannot count the times he said he wished my Mother had aborted me. I cannot count the times I would call or write when he just would not respond. I was like a desperate stalking girlfriend in those years. He was so bad for me, but yet, I sought his approval and love above all else. When I couldn’t get his attention with good behavior, I became bad, when he would call me and scream horrible things at me, I felt I deserved them and would often beg his forgiveness. It is very painful to remember the stakes I would go to obtain his love. It’s embarrassing, and is very much like a battered wife who keeps going back for more!
Cutting him out of my life was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. When I think of the mistakes I have made as a Mother, I can honestly say it pales in comparison, and I would never inflict that kind of pain on them. NEVER. So, why would I not try to clean up the mess of the past to become a complete person? Why would I deprive myself of something that needed to be resolved so I could move on? Shame, fear, intimidation, being totally exposed as not being perfect, and worried about what other people might think of what I allowed to happen. I had already been told it was my fault so many times that I believed it was. Looking back on it, How could it have been my fault? I was a child, he was the grown up! He ripped away my self-esteem and an entire side of my family that I thought loved me. That’s pretty darn rough for a sixteen year old to be disowned by her Father and then by his entire side of his family. The scars, the night terrors, the running away, the hiding, and everything I did as a child to somehow cope. I even tried to cut off other family members who were very good to me because I had to stop the bleeding. If I cut them off first, they couldn’t hurt me. Little did I know, it just doesn’t work that way.
I would show him, I would become someone, I would make a name for myself and I would survive! Well, I did survive, but not without a price. It’s a big price to pay! It comes to you when you least want it, in your dreams, flashbacks in the shower, certain smells, certain songs on the radio, and even certain people who remind you of it without knowing it was a reminder.
I’m still processing and going through the stages of grief that paralyzed me for so long. The difference is today, being stronger in mind and body, and having an awesome support system gets me through it. I honestly believe if I hadn’t had that breakdown in the Doctor’s office that day, and if I had not been forced to discuss it and face it, I would never fully be capable of being whole and inspiring others to find their own selves and their voice. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. I have tried every other possible way and believe me, it just doesn’t work without the WORK.
Mrs. Leaks – Thank you for your courage, thank you for opening the book. I think your true friends saw the real you and were better able to understand why you cut people off before they can hurt you. I think you also showed that by revealing your emotions, women who have been through similar things rushed to your side in Sisterhood. I am lucky enough to have the same Sisters on my side to cheer me on, to wipe tears, to listen, that do not hold me in judgement but respect me for my strength. Then it’s time to pay it forward, forgiveness of yourself first is key, and then forgive others. Some are truly lost souls who do not know what they do. Missing out on your child growing up and missing out on beautiful grandchildren is their price that they are paying. Their justifications, rationalizations, and any other thing they tell themselves are the same as the lies we told to ourselves that we are okay with it. True survivors know when it’s time to pay the piper, trust again, forgive, pay it forward and most importantly MOVE forward. Be proud that you demonstrated even the strongest of women are not always strong and need that helping hand to pull them up. Grab that hand and be grateful you did!
The Mask of the Doctor’s Wife