This journey of discovering my vulnerability has made me examine my past. I have struggled with looking back at my life because I have always thought I don’t want to go back there. I don’t live there anymore. I had this belief for a long time, but after visiting a healer she told me that I have my past, especially with my mother, still held inside. I laughed and cried a bit because I thought, haven’t I dealt with this? The healing also brought up vulnerability and how I needed to face the truth about myself.
I want to mention quickly that when I dig back into my past that it has nothing to do with the people that lived there. I do not want to make anyone feel bad for what they did or didn’t do for me. I chose to deal with my pain and hurt in my way which has served and not served me. My parents, siblings, family and friends are good people. We did the best we could with awareness we had in our moments together.
After my healing session, I spent the next few days which turned into a week of contemplating my past. I stood on the Eiffel tower above my life and viewed it unbiased. I saw something in it. I saw myself learning to deal with my pain. I went silent in my most ugly times. When I should have screamed I kept it in. I released it in completely different ways, but never in truthful ways.
The first part (part 1) of this blog will be before my mother died. This part is really about realizing how I have created my vulnerabilities. I learned to be silent in misery. I can think of so many times when I was asked, do you ever cry? I would shrug my shoulders and say sure sometimes, but that meant never in front of another only when I was alone. After my mother was diagnosed with cancer and started treatments a silence seemed to fall on our home. I don’t recall talking about her cancer. I was in the dark about what was going on exactly with her. I was told she had cancer, but there seems to be blank spaces of any other information. I didn’t learn my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer until she had passed and I later went for genetic counselling. This code of silence was always there. I think back to my younger days and I think my family just perceived that we didn’t get told about anything private. In some ways I understand, but in other ways it caused a lot of miscommunication and wrong perceptions. It made the world seem fine when it wasn’t. So, when bad things happened you kept them in because we learned never to express them.
I have this clear memory of these silent killers. I had a boyfriend back when my mother was sick. I think I was 15-16 years old. He was a good guy and very kind to me. We were sitting on his tailgate and I told him that I thought my mother was going to die. I had not really spoken to anyone about my mom. It was brewing up inside and I let it out; my biggest fears. Those fears were that she wasn’t going to make it and I was scared. With no fault to him, but he said the one thing I didn’t want to hear: Oh that’s not true. She is going to be fine. And, my first thought inside was, didn’t you just hear me? So, with a finger to the lips and a hush of the breath I fell back into keeping it to myself.
I cried through most of my Math 20 class that year she was diagnosed. The teacher asked me if I was ok, but I continued to tell her I was fine. She thought it was boyfriend problems and never once called home. She pushed the math and I ended up failing it that semester. I eventually was able to get back under control and push more of my pain down and finished my math courses for high school graduation. I never forgot that the pain was leaking out, but still no one wanted to face it. I never told her. She never asked. We spent that time in an awkward silence.
I never talked with my friends much about my mother and they never asked. If I had a bad day at home I would call them up and we would go drinking and that suppressed more pain. If anyone had been interviewed at the time about me and what they thought they knew about me back then I am sure it would have been words like fun, crazy, loud and a good friend. I was. I still am. A few maybe would have known about my mom but that was not talked about at all. My close friends would have been worried because I was depressed for a time. But, they had no skills to deal with me so they kept just being around and getting me to go out with them. All in all, they showed me love, but I was unable to show my truth. But, truthfully, I don’t think anyone wanted to see my truth. How many teenage kids can deal with death, cancer and sadness? It takes a toll on anyone who tries. It can be uncomfortable. We live in a world that we want to always believe that we will make it through without too many bumps and bruises.
The pattern that I learned was that pain was to be kept in. It made others feel uncomfortable when it was let out. Everyone around me seemed better if there was silence in pain, but within me the pain has caused issues in my life. In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt gave the speech which contained the line, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings….” Brene Brown talks about this speech in her book ‘Rising Strong’. She says that we don’t focus on when we are face down on the arena floor; society only wants to hear when you graze over the battle and talk about when you rose back up. We love the victorious stories the best. The face down on the arena floor is the part that I have not wanted to face. I didn’t want to focus when I was in my biggest despairs because it hurts to go back to it. But, why I need to do it this time is to release all the pain I buried there. I took every pain and pushed it down. I took every word I needed to get out and blocked it from release. I felt like a failure daughter. I felt like a failure of a friend. I felt empty. I felt ready to explode. I continued doing this and have only most recently realized that I have kept it up my whole life. I have held it in long enough. It is time to release the silence.
The next blog….I have to focus on the pain.