Tonight was a therapy session, I literally just walked in the door, and I knew the very first thing that I needed to do was to get these feelings down on my blog. My mind is going a mile a minute and full of so much confusion and so many emotions that it’s hard to formulate thoughts even in my comfort zone of writing.
When I really need to focus I go into my “iced tea and heavy metal” zone. That’s when I can be at both my creative best and also when I can really let my thoughts flow in blog form. I put on a playlist of my favorite songs and drink diet green iced tea like it’s going out of style. I know, it sounds ridiculous right?!
Anyway, it honestly feels like my healing journey has taken a dramatic turn for the worst this last month. It’s been steadily building and I haven’t been able to process why or really even realize what was happening until tonight.
Up until about a month ago or so, even though I didn’t realize it, I was actually beginning to make some progress in my healing journey. I mean serious, positive progress. Again, I couldn’t see it until now even though others could. I’m doing more and more writing, the flashbacks are becoming less frequent, and I’m just getting more comfortable opening up about my abuse to others. I’m still not comfortable talking about it face to face with anyone but J (my therapist), but as far as opening up to the survivor community and a colleague, I was feeling a bit…empowered! Holy Jeebus did I just say that? Ok step back and breathe a second here, Lyric!
I wouldn’t have, and didn’t believe it, but now looking back I can see a bit of progress in dealing with my abuse as a child.
Enter in…the letter from my mother and the feelings that have began to brew since then. Since I allowed that letter to be written, everything has just gone south at a rapid pace. My anxiety is through the roof at the very mention of her name. A text that comes through from her makes me immediately feel angry, frustrated, and just beside myself with so much animosity that it’s not even funny.
I used to look forward to therapy sessions; every week I went in there and no matter how I was feeling, I knew that I would feel at least a little bit better when I left. Now, going to therapy fills me with so much anxiety (are you sensing a trend here?) that I’m totally dreading them. I’m literally between a rock and a hard place. If I don’t talk about it and deal with it, nothing will ever get solved. If I talk about it, all it does is stir up all these emotions and I have nowhere to go with them.
Right now my healing journey is less about the childhood abuse from the teenager up the street, but more about the problems with my mother. It’s a consuming feeling that I literally can’t shake unless I’m mentally focused and engaged in some activity that keeps my mind occupied. Even then it still creeps in but at least I can keep it at bay.
I guess I can take some solace in the fact that the slight bit of empowerment that I’ve gained prior to that letter being written may be helping me now to stay on an even keel to some degree.
So what do I do…do I attempt to talk to her and tell her how I feel and what’s been going on for the last 40+ years, and more specifically in the last month or do I just let it go?
If I talk to her I risk it blowing up in my face for a number of reasons:
- I won’t feel strong enough in my heart to deflect any invalidation back on her and I’ll just take it in and put more blame on myself.
- What if she says she’s sorry but she meant well, didn’t mean to hurt me, but I never opened up and talked to her to let her know. That would likely just infuriate me even more.
- She will start to preach to me and say that God wants me to do this and that. It’s not a matter of me not believing in God, but more to do with how she’s always used the Bible and church to judge me for everything I’ve done wrong in my life.
- No matter how it ends she’s going to keep guilt tripping me into not spending enough time with my dad.
On that note, my dad is 82 now, and is exhibiting the onset of dementia. I love him, always have, and I have very fond memories of times with him as a kid going down to the river, riding 3-wheelers (ATC’s), going for walks, and catching minnows. I’m ok with those memories now, but she wants to guilt me into coming over to see them more because my dad always asks about me.
So now not only do I have the pressure of trying to avoid her and deal with all these thoughts, but also the guilt of how to separate my dad from her. Due to his condition, they are pretty much a package deal these days. Like I said I have good memories of my dad and I’m ok with that as it is, I don’t know that I feel the need to make more for myself. I feel bad for him though because he wants to see me and I feel like I’m letting him down by staying away. Enter the feelings of being totally selfish and ungrateful.
Should I feel guilty for that? I honestly don’t even know. Part of me says no. I’m a grown man, I have my life now and things that I do to keep myself occupied. I had good memories with him and that should be enough for both of us. The other part of me says that yes, I should feel guilty because as a parent my dad just wants to be with his son for as long as he has left. Whether or not he remembers those times makes no difference.
It feels like a no-win situation. I know that I have to come up with some type of resolution either way and even J is in the same boat as I am right now, torn between what to do. Do I suck it up and internalize everything for the sake of my dad and my mom’s feelings, or do I confront my mom knowing there is a 99.99% chance I’m not going to get the outcome that I need.
I don’t wish this type of situation on anyone and I hope you don’t mind that I had to do a bit of a brain dump on this topic to help me process it. I feel like writing this out has helped me process it a little more, but unlike writing about my past abuse, I don’t get the same relief in writing about this topic as I do about the abuse.
Comments and insight are so much appreciated, please feel free as always to share your thoughts.
Image taken by Matt Pappas.