I love it when I am feeling “good”. When I feel competent and motivated and bubbly, and strong. This is the time when my creativity is high, and my passion keeps up with me. But lately, I’ve been feeling not quite-so light.
For the last 2 weeks I’ve been overwhelmed. I quit drinking and smoking over 2 months ago and now whenever I get stressed it’s like I have nothing to hide behind. Nothing to run to when my feelings are powerful. It’s an incredible feeling, but one that I am fearful of. It’s like my perception is completely askew and everything I interpret is not rooted in reality. I’m hit with a tidal wave of doubt. Of social anxiety. Feeling like everyone hates me and that I am always saying the wrong thing. It doesn’t go away. No matter how much sleep I get or how healthy I eat or how much I exercise I get. Just the never-ending spiral of thoughts. I can listen to them and know they aren’t true or real, but replacing them with positively charged alternatives has been harder than usual lately. I am returning to meditation on a daily basis and kava supplements, in hopes it helps a bit.
Quite honestly, all I want to do is curl up and not talk to anyone. To be quiet and avoid everything. To isolate even more. I know this is not what’s best for me, or what I need. It’s not what I am going to do. I know this is a part of the process I’m in. I read somewhere that after one quits drinking, symptoms like these can last for months, but, like everything, is temporary.
also, here is a poem I wrote:
I am all the things I have ever loved.
The culmination of parts sewn together. A work in progress. A place to go. An adventure. When I was a child I left no space on the wall uncovered. Everything I loved could be taped to the ceiling or hung from a nail. Every magazine photo I admired and every stuffed animal I named into sentient life.
I am all the things I have ever loved. I am the boy I lost my virginity to. I am the man who told me forever and then said goodbye. I am the person I chased in circles until I wore their rejection like a badge of honor. I have loved only what I intended to lose.
I am all the things I have ever loved. I am the cigarettes I gave up. The wine I used to hide myself. I am butterflies and taxidermy and movies with sad endings.
I am all the things I have ever loved. When I was young I thought love was something you exchange for something else. A currency no one could steal from you.
I am all the things I have ever loved. I told him “Ich Liebe Dich” and meant it. He told me I should only ever say “Ich Mag Dich” That Liebe is not spoken aloud often. The “big” love is too big to say to someone you barely know. Too big to say about something you own.
I am all the things I have ever loved. I am magenta and sushi and traveling alone and hiking to the tops of mountains at sunrise and coffee in the late afternoon. I am the quilt pattern of memory and identity trying to forget themselves into person and I am the little boy who runs up to me when I come home, arms outstretched as he smiles and says:
“Mommy, I love you”
I love my mom. I do. I have lots of good memories with her. Lots of laughter and joy and connection. When I was little, it felt like we were very close. Like we understood each other. In all honesty, we are very much alike. We are both alternative. We both share a unique perspective on life and our place in the world. We like animals. We love art. We adore books. When I was younger, we agreed on everything and could talk about anything. My mother is a truly talented and amazing human being. She works her ass off. She is generous. She is compassionate. She is successful effortlessly. She was the mother who fought for me. The mother who listened to my problems. The mom who let me be my own person. That’s the mom that lives in the back of my mind. The mom I want to remember. The mom I want back.
There is also another side to my mother. The mom who never acknowledged my mental illness. The mom who wasn’t there for me when I was suicidal. The mother who drank heavily. The mother who has left me alone when I needed help, guidance, and understanding. The mom who can destroy my day. The mother who raised me in chaos. The mom who doesn’t see the pain I went through. The mom who wants me to support her emotions and feelings above my own. The mother who forces me to be “strong” for her sake. That’s the mother I have never gotten a chance to confront. The mother no one in my family wants to admit is there.
They are both the same person. I can love my mother while admitting the ways she hurt me. It doesn’t make me love her less. Hell, all I ever wanted was for her to love me too. I feel like I am always constantly chasing her for love. Trying to be “good enough” to earn that love. For much of my life I put my mom on a pedestal and would not allow myself to feel anything other than appreciation and admiration towards her, denying myself the ability to feel hurt by her, internalizing that hurt and pushing it deeper and deeper inside of myself. For the last two years or so I have begun the process of opening those boxes and looking through the many sides of my parents, seeing them as multi-faceted and complicated human beings instead of one dimensional caricatures.
Growing up, my mom was “good” and my dad was “bad” but they are neither. There are so many layers to our parents. To people, really. There is no “good” or “bad” here. Just people doing the very best they can. I understand that. I feel that. I am a parent myself and every day I feel terrible about something I did or said that I worry is going to scar my kid for life. We as parents only do our best, and inevitably fail our children in one way or another. That’s the big joke of parenthood. No matter what you do, you get the blame. That’s the decision you make. To be strong enough to stand in the face of that failure.
Deep down I feel like I didn’t really have parents. I had two people who loved me deeply, but weren’t able to give me what I needed as a child and adolescent(and still as an adult). But they did/do the best they can. This doesn’t mean that I have to pretend the choices they made did not cause damage. This doesn’t mean I don’t get to mourn the fact that I parented rather than was parented(and still do to a certain extent). When I became a mom, I realized I had no idea how to be one or what a mom looked like. I had to teach myself how to be a healthy parent, and I’m still figuring that stuff out. Sifting through my childhood and the modeling I had and making different choices as to what is going to work better for my own family(For example, my mom was a very lenient parent, and I am more strict)
My father and I also have tons of issues we’ve had to work through over the years, but that process started when I was a teenager, and in the last 15 years or so we’ve come to an arrangement that is the best we are going to get for our relationship. We are not close, but we are comfortable. My mom and I are just starting on this journey, and I expect things to be bumpy for awhile. I have so much anger built up over the years. Anger I have not allowed myself to feel. Anger I have hidden under alcohol and denial. I want to pretend all of the aspect of my mom that are positive for me are all there ever was, but then I would only “feed” the shadow side of my relationship with her more. To deny what feelings are there only gives them more power, being honest about them takes that power away.
I’ve been writing to cope since I was a child. It was the only outlet I found where I could feel honest. I have written many poems about my parents exploring my relationship towards them as it changes. I write to explore my issues from a variety of angles, and personas. Sometimes I write from my own perspective, sometimes I write from heightened emotion that gets to the raw feelings behind what I am dealing with at the time. Most of the time, I let the writing take me where it does, subconsciously, and see where I end up. This past week I’ve been writing new poems and one of them brought up some feelings I’ve been processing about my relationship with my mother. It is not the first time or the last time either of my parents will appear in my poems as archetypes or characters.
For the first time, my mom has objected to things I have written. She is concerned with how people will perceive her. That she might be exposed by my own feelings and anger that I am processing.
I feel put in a peculiar situation because since writing/performing/sharing that writing is how I process my feelings, in my mind it is basically asking me not to process those feelings. Like I’m not “allowed” to feel them. Like they don’t matter. Pretty much everything I got into spoken word/slam to push against. I’ve written about my mental illness, suicide attempt, miscarriage, sexual assaults, and abuse to fight the pressure to keep quiet about those topics and issues. In my mind, writing about being angry at my mom doesn’t feel much more raw than that, but for her it might. I know she’s coming from a different perspective and doesn’t see my experiences in the same way, or how they affected me. She might not understand the level or hurt I have felt, or why I keep my distance from her. She didn’t do or say anything with the intention to hurt me at all, but denying the validity of the feelings and my need to work through them in a healthy way seems like she doesn’t want to hear about those feelings or talk about them with me. She just wants me to keep them to myself. As if that will make them go away.
I want to have my mom in my life. I want to work past these feelings and move on to a stronger connection than we had before. That’s the most important thing to me. More important than how people perceive either of us.( I have done some terrible things myself. I have a lot to feel sorry for, and I know how hard it is to lean into that feeling) but I know I can’t be around her with all of this extra baggage I’m carrying. I need to work through it. It’s like cleaning an infected wound before it gets so bad it needs to be amputated.
I hope my mom is doing work on her own to heal her own wounds. I am hoping I can continue to do the work I need to do in order to heal myself and step into a more honest and open relationship with her. I hope she understands that writing and sharing that process is a part of that healing for me, no matter how uncomfortable that may make her feel. This blog is a place for my words and my self expression, and remains a place where I will always be honest about my life and my experiences.
So I am working on a project where I am recreating a journal from my teenage years, so naturally, I had to go back and look through my old journals from those times. It was a very sad experience. Embarrassing because all I did was talk about sex. As if I had no other thought in my mind. Insightful because I can now realize how I used that persona as a shield. It wasn’t that I was actually obsessed with sex, but that’s all I thought anyone wanted from me.
I’m triggered as hell right now. I’ve been anxious all morning thinking about it. About how people think of me (or thought of me then) About how I can rightfully express all of that pain I was going through while being oblivious to it at the same time.
I was molested as an adolescent. I developed early. I hung out with older people and older men who all at one time or another took advantage of me. Used me. I was trained to believe that my body and sex was all I had to offer. That I wasn’t worthy of love. That I had to earn it through sexual contact with men. As a result, I tried to make myself seem “better” than the friends around me who were my age. I lashed out at them. I said mean things to them. I tried to pull myself up through tearing them down. I was in a very sad place, but I didn’t realize truly how sad I was. How useless and lonely I felt.
I realize that girls are truly in a battlefield at this age. There is no coming out of it without some wounds. At the time I didn’t realize the damage that was caused by these experiences. It’s like being in the trauma and the mind blocks things out or trivializes them so you can survive the experience, but as an adult I can see that what was happening to me at the time was not normal…but sadly was “normal” at the same time.
The way we sexualize girls and women is terrible. I hope things are better now. I want to believe things are better. The girls I work with have more firm heads on their shoulders than I did and inspire me constantly with their power and insight and strength. I am scared for them. Scared because of what I can see now over a decade later. That the journey through this leaves no one without some kind of mark for having gone through it.
I am hugging that little girl inside of me. The one who was catcalled at age 10. The one who was forced open, and told she was beautiful only when she was naked. This little girl was not a woman. This girl was not allowed to speak up for herself, so she embraced that persona, and made it a part of who she was. She should have been hanging out with kids her own age. She should have had parents who kept her safe. She should have been taken better care of and taught about the ways she was valuable. But she had to figure it out for herself.
Rose is not my legal last name.
I changed it. Dropped the surname and used my middle name instead. I’ve been wanting to change it legally for years. My real last name is something my father is very proud of, but quite honestly, I’m glad my children do not have to continue to use it. It’s an awkward name that is impossible to pronounce in American dialect.
Both my mother and father have Polish roots.
My maternal grandfather changed his last name too. Dropping the very polish sounding Wojtowicz for a clearer, less accented name.
They say your last name can say a lot about your family. That the two names combined describe you.
When you translate my mother and father’s last names, the result is: Luscious Warrior