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Owning Up

There is a spirit behind everything in life, and a reason we do things. Sometimes the spirit that guides us rises from the force of our own disasters and traumas, and plummets us into isolating, self-centered holes.

Staying in these holes, while they can be essential to healing, can also cause a certain amount of destruction in our lives. Inside these holes resides all of the pain of insecurity, doubt, lack of trust, unworthiness, and the state of not being loved.

I came to my awakening from trauma during my divorce. It was a huge smack in the face. Before that, I had always said, “life is a series of sleepings and awakenings.” I know now that kind of perception is common among trauma victims. So imagine my pain when I could no longer go back to sleep, even though every cell in my body was wanting me to escape my life. I could not, though. I was being constantly attacked through the court system by a very angry man. His complete and seemingly instant betrayal of me took me to a grief that I believe was much deeper than my own life. It spanned the women of my family, back through generations. It spoke completely of the price of staying asleep.

There are many anesthetics one can use to hide behind. Being busy, mothering, sex, drugs, alcohol, food. Abusive friends. Abusive partners. As long as you have these, you have pain, yes, but you also have a convenient hiding place. If, like me, your whole family culture was erected around you being in this kind of sleeping state, then you absolutely have a place to hide. Your role is defined: the obsequious, ever-suffering but ultimately compliant one.

For years I hid. I didn’t have to consider anything but my own suffering and how someone else was enacting it. And it was true. But I was asleep, and I had children. In deepening my own understanding, I paid a price. There is a high price for insecurity, and doubt, and feeling unlovable. I looked to those who would have me sleep to wake me up to my worth. They are and were never capable of that. In the meantime, though, I neglected my own children’s right to a mother who is present and able.

I am not afraid to feel guilty. I have every reason to feel guilty for the way I’ve sometimes mothered my children. I am not a bad mother any more than I am a good mother. I am a human mother and I’ve been handed a life that has been hurtful, confusing, and unusual. Recently,  my daughter called me out on the effects of my neglect. She tearfully expressed how hurtful  it was to feel left out and like I didn’t have her back. She was right. At one point I wasn’t very available to her, because I was too lost in my own pain from a dysfunctional marriage. Or from other men. I realize had burdened my own children with some of my pain. And blessedly, they are the type to allow me to clean up after my mistakes and give them what they deserve: all the love in the world.

Awakening, although it is painful, holds many more benefits than sleeping. Sleeping means staying stuck in insecurity and pain. Awakening, while hard in its relentless truthfulness, also awakens you to your worth. And isn’t it empowering to know you can take responsibility? Isn’t it empowering to know you have so much love? Isn’t it empowering to know you can heal yourself and that becomes a ripple of life that circles into the past and the future?

I say this to anyone who might be hurting, or who might be floating in the liminal space between sleeping and awakening. Healing is possible. I believe that with all my heart. I’ve seen it happen. I think back to times in my life where I wasn’t sure if I would have money for food, or how I was going to make it through the day without falling apart, or nights on end with no sleep. Somehow, I have survived a lot. And I remain hopeful, always seeking and finding love and grace, ever with this open, grieving heart.

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