I’ve had just enough time away from the events of the summer that my body and mind are starting to relax. When I think about how tightly wound I was, I can’t help but wonder why my response was so vehement. The thing is, though, I’m not in that place anymore. I don’t understand me the way I did in the moment. I only have lenses that provide me with a window of past insight.
As far as I can tell, it has been a process of learning to self-soothe my way into wholeness and the acceptance of who I really am… and how that person is different than the person I thought I was.
In a way, it seems childish to define myself by another person’s actions. That’s not what adults are supposed to do (even though we do it a lot)… or at least, that’s what it looks like from this far away. In the middle of it, I was re-living everything I’d been taught as a child, unable to “age it up” because it didn’t fit me anymore.
I also had to learn that it was okay to tell, ok to release, ok to stop taking her story at face value without allowing myself any input. Up until last summer, I really had this feeling that what she said was gospel, and I didn’t get to help write it. After almost a quarter century of feeling bound and gagged, it was time to stop trying to save her and start trying to save myself.
The best news I’ve gotten in a long time is that it worked… but that doesn’t mean I don’t have days where I rethink things and wondered if I could have handled it any better. The reality is that it’s wasted time, and I try to catch myself in the act so that I can consciously move to a different topic.
But, of course, that only works for so long, and then I have to think about it or it will keep popping up. That’s another thing I’ve learned. Stuffing things down doesn’t work, because it will come back up, either as an emotional well of grief or pychosomatic illness… and by that, I do not mean that the symptoms aren’t real, just that they’re brought upon by stress.
For me, that stress came from knowing things about my family that only family members know… but others have gotten a taste of it over the years… or at least, enough to know that my story is valid. Anger and fear boiled over when I realized that the situation wouldn’t change just because I wanted it to. The situation didn’t change when I presented my side of the story. The situation didn’t change when I made it clear that I wasn’t dealing with my own childhood issues, but the ones created for me by someone else.
Adults have so much power when you’re a kid… often much more than even they know. In this case, I don’t think that she can plead ignorance. She would always refer to how lopsided our affection was, but there was no recognition that as the adult, she set it up that way. I just didn’t have that kind of power.
The blessing this year was seeing that I had gained it.