Healing myself is a gift

I am in a transition. I believe I did my job as a mother because my daughter is self sufficient and has her own life at 21 years old. She will graduate college soon and start her journey of finding her way in this world. I am proud to be her mom, and I will always be there for her. She will always want and need my emotional support, but she is becoming independent of me, and that is the way it should be. I love her grace and generosity. I love that she tells me she loves me about 15 times a day. I love that she texts me at 2:00 on a weekday afternoon to ask me how my day is going. She is growing into a caring, resilient woman and she is my best friend.

My husband and I were, and are good parents to her. We both love her more than anything in this world, and we always tried to make her our top priority in our home. We both love being parents, and love her and the beautiful person that she has become.

I moved to Los Angeles from Portland Oregon on November 1st, I have been here almost a month. This was the first Thanksgiving I did not spend with my daughter and husband. It was hard. I went to the gym in the morning, as I always do on Thanksgiving, and saw the little kids in their cute outfits going into the play center as their parents worked out. I smiled as I saw a little girl in a pink tutu following her mom around in the locker room asking her if it was Thanksgiving yet.

This Thanksgiving to me was about being grateful but in a different way. I don’t know if I had time to feel grateful in the past. I was too busy cooking, organizing, and trying to make my Thanksgiving table perfect. A part of me was outside of me, judging my food, my table, and waiting for the reaction of my family and guests to my food and my presentation. Was it good? Did they like it? Was it a successful Thanksgiving? This year I was an observer, as I didn’t cook and instead I went to a friend’s house who did a beautiful job of preparing and serving the food to his family and me. I enjoyed it, but obviously it was a different experience without my own family.

As I was driving home from the meal with my friends I started crying. I missed my family yes, but I was more sad about the way I have changed. I came from a dysfunctional, abusive childhood and I stopped going home for the holidays when I was 24. I spent holidays with friends until I got married in my late twenties. When I got married I wanted my family to be my refuge from the world. I wanted to make things happy and special because I didn’t have that growing up. I poured my heart and soul into Thanksgiving and all holidays to try and make up for my lack of extended family. My family was my anchor in the world. I used to call my husband my earth because I literally felt like I was going to float away to parts unknown without him by my side. It was a powerful feeling that gave me direction in my life. Everything I did, I did for my family, and it gave me focus and clarity and the ability to drown out all the other noise around me.

When the dynamic started to change in my family I became frantic. I felt it shifting, but I also felt myself shifting. I didn’t know what it meant, and I tried my hardest to stay focussed, but I couldn’t. I still loved my family more than any two people on the planet, but not in the same ‘end all be all’ way, which I don’t think was healthy to begin with. I had wanted them to heal the trauma and the abandonment of my past, and that is why I gripped so tightly. I wanted to love them so hard in hopes of feeling that love back to prove to myself and the world that I was lovable. But my tight grip stifled them, and ultimately led them to drift from me emotionally. It hurt, it made me angry, it made me feel unloveable and abandoned, just as I did as a child.

But I realize now that healing me was not and is not their job. I have to heal myself. I have to learn how to feel whole on my own, and come to terms with my past, that they had nothing to do with.

As I have said before, healing is not for the faint of heart. I stopped drinking over 3 years ago and started feeling again. I started letting my emotions come out instead of burying them, and disguising them. Since I have been alone here in Los Angeles, my emotions come even more freely but they don’t debilitate me like they used to. I cry, and then an hour later I am laughing, or going for a walk and moving on with my day. My sadness is just one small part of my day that is filled with all sorts of other emotions too.

I am grateful for this time to be able to sort out my feelings. I am grateful that I can walk the beach, ride my bike, stare at the palm trees swaying in the wind and let my mind and emotions wander where they will. I am grateful for my family that I know love me as much as I love them. I am grateful that they are understanding of me right now, and supportive of my move. It is making me healthier as a person, and allowing me to get to know myself with no real agenda. It is a good time in my life as I don’t have my biological clock ticking, I am not on the hunt for a partner, and I don’t have family obligations that so many people have at my age because I cut ties with my family long ago.

Right now I have freedom to explore in a way I never imagined possible. I have the time and the energy to read, and think and create. I am forming new friendships with people that are getting to know the me that I am now, not the me that I was 20 years ago. I am a different person now. I have worked hard to become the person that I am, and I still work hard every day at it. I work hard to stay open when I feel uncomfortable. I work hard to not let my insecurities get the better of me and come out as anger. I work hard on staying present and learning about myself and others.

Every morning, is a day filled with possibilities, and I am working hard on staying open and calm enough to see them all.

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