coda

let go with love SOM

I have tweeted about my relationship with my mother before. I believed I deleted another thread from Easter when I realized that she was a narcissistic mother, but I did blog about it.

Maybe it’s through American pop culture, but I really wanted my mother to fight for me, for us–more than she has.

Our “ending” has been a little anti-climatic. I didn’t cry when I spoke to her this past week. I felt so in control, like a doctor giving a grave diagnosis and giving options to her patient.

As I summarized nearly 40 years of wanting and waiting, I had compassion for myself as I didn’t hear the responses I wanted: remorse; contrition; sadness.

I’m still wrestling with this a little bit, because this–waiting for her to show up emotionally–is at the heart of what has gone down between us for decades. What’s worse than hatred is apathy.

I can’t make her care about me in the way that I need. Her obstinacy to walking to the middle where reconciliation and restoration reside and flourish.

She only sees this as a right or wrong issue. The way she sees it is that she is emotionally available and she’s unwilling to change her behavior. It takes two, she said. Apparently, I’m still not doing enough. Enough of what? I don’t know.

You know that Rumi quote about meeting in that field beyond right and wrong? That’s where I am, but she decided not to meet me there.

My conversation with her last Thursday was really a coda to a swan song that started before I was born, where I was the scapegoat for the loss of her nursing career. By the way–if your mother or father blames you for ruining their lives, that’s a classic narcissist move.

What’s weird for me is how not-sad I feel. I feel whole and complete. I’m relieved. I don’t have to keep trying, like Capricorns are wont to do. We won’t give up until…is there an until, actually? Do we ever give up? That’s one of the dark sides of being stubborn sea goats. We need the discernment to know when to keep going and when to find a new path.

Any fires of sadness, grief, and anger were snuffed out by depriving it of the oxygen of my desire. Yet, I’m still sitting here, looking at the smoke rise to the heavens as she’s already left our campfire site.

So, that’s it.

One thing I’ve realized when relationships end, or at least drastically change course, is that I grieve the ending before it actually comes. So that conversation I had with my mother–she didn’t hear anything new except that I was done trying to make this work. We had been here before, many times.

I still love and care about her, as I told her twice on the phone.

I never heard those words back.

Right now, I feel unburdened. Clear. Clean. A gaping wound has finally sealed and healed. So, I’m grateful, because those kind of wounds tend to define a person until they are healed. Mother wounds may be some of the most stubborn to heal until you start to identify with you you are now.

When you learn how to be on your own side and be a good mother to yourself, the pain lessens and subsides. When you learn not to identify with the societal expectations of nuclear families and see yourself as someone who shouldn’t be ashamed but instead proud of having survived a loveless relationship, that’s the growth. That’s the “win” of being an adult child of a narcissistic parent.

Sadly, because we were never emotionally close, I don’t miss that much. I miss would might have been, what should have been.

That’s the only that may break me–knowing what I deserved vs. what I actually received. But what’s important is that I did deserve and will always deserve a mother who is openly proud of me, openly loves and supports me, is openly affectionate with me. I don’t have to beg for it. I don’t even need to ask for it.

Every child deserves to have parents who truly care about them without having to debase themselves to receive love. That is the tacit agreement parents and children make when children are brought into the world. Some of us are lucky to have that agreement to remain intact, while others of us have to recover from these agreements breaking.

And you can recover. Recovery–a new path to wholeness–is yours and waiting for you.

Now I can move on. I know the toxicity of this relationship has touched every relationship I have been in. Now I look forward to creating healthier relationships with people that are built on trust, reciprocity, respect, a genuine liking of each other, and, most of all, real love.

If you have a narcissistic parent, check out narcissisticmother.com. Also, this podcast from Terri Cole is what started me on this last leg of my healing journey regarding my mother.

the district

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You know, if I had visited a few months ago, I’d be feeling differently.

This month, I finally made it back to the place where I began…in utero, that is.

When my parents immigrated to the United States, they started out in Arlington, Virginia when my dad was a family practice resident at Howard University. It didn’t last long since I ended up being born in Oklahoma City.

But that’s another story. I had never been to D.C., which seems strange and frankly unAmerican. So when a Facebook friend (whom I knew from this spiritual retreat/event I attended two years ago) asked if someone wanted to drive her car from Miami to D.C., I jumped at the chance. I thought I’d be seeing a lot of friends, see some sights, get some time to clear my head.

What I got was: a clearer head, saw some sights, saw two friends. The best laid plans, right?

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Sunrise at Sunny Isles Beach, Florida

I made my way by Greyhound to Miami and stayed at a hotel on the beach, the Thunderbird. It’s old and not that fancy–BUT THE BEACH. That’s where that sunrise picture came from. Later that day, my friend and her daughter packed up a utility van with two dogs and a cat, as well as my friend’s hatchback I was driving, and we headed north on I-95.

My friend was a bit…um…neurotic? Of course she was. It’s a cross-country move. We barely knew each other, and she’s in her 60s. But at the same time, being more spiritually attuned, I knew we were going to be fine, that we could trust each other. Still, I tried not to be bothered by the frustration and worry (I’m just here to help!). I tried to use my Cancer moon and soothe her while letting her daughter take care of her, which she did. It wasn’t the best planned trip, but for the most part I was well taken care of.

My biggest concern, besides not driving too fast on this fast interstate, was if I was going to be triggered by a healthy mother-daughter relationship. Having had these realization about my narcissistic mother a couple of week prior, I partly didn’t want to see a healthy relationship in front of me, but at the same time, I wanted to observe what it was like to really like your mom and to have your mom really like you.

I got the best taste of it before we left Miami when we went out to dinner. It was so…normal and balanced, but it was a foreign feeling. In many ways, I will never know what it’s like to have that. But how can you miss what you’ve never had?

Besides taking forever to figure out how to sync my phone to the car (because music on a road trip is life), the driving itself was pretty uneventful. (OK, there was this one time I was kinda racing a VW bug in North Carolina, but whatever!) I talked to a friend in South Carolina as I drove through her state, realizing all too late that I could have possibly seen her.

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It’s Pedro from the kinda eerily almost deserted South of the Border at the NC/SC border.

When we got to Fayetteville, North Carolina, later that evening, I had a little pang of jealousy when the daughter had a college friend drive down from Raleigh to hang out. It made me wonder: do I have friends in my life like that now? I’m not so sure. But as I was jealous, at least I felt a little less weird about following that same sort of impulse–“oh, you’re in town; let’s hang out.” Granted, younger millennials have less adulting to do, but still…

This brings me to arriving in D.C. and how bittersweet it was for me. For one thing, I didn’t tell my mom I was traveling, although she had kindly sent some money to help me out earlier. I just had decided that this emotional homecoming of sorts wasn’t something she’d really care about or care to hear about.

The other thing was that I had tried to 1) stay longer in D.C. because I erroneously assumed that with enough time, I could arrange staying for a few days and 2) see people. One friend was out of town, but friends I had known for years couldn’t accommodate and it kind of floored me. I know I’m not in a place to do the reverse, to host someone, but if I was, I would. My trip was rather abbreviated because I had made what I thought were some safe assumptions. I honestly wanted to go to D.C. to hang out with friends, and that’s why my friend picked me to come.

Before we even started our trip, we talked about this very phenomenon over dinner–of friends visiting town–and my friend knew how I felt. We talked about how we both would get offended if someone came to visit our respective towns and didn’t even mention it. I have cut ties with people for this–not because I’m a diva, but because I give an actual shit about them (i.e., it hurts).

So while I drove down Rock Creek Parkway, seeing the Pentagon, the National Mall, etc–basically the nickel tour of Washington D.C. and all the unexpected lush greenery, I felt a little sad, even as I blasted D.C. native Thievery Corporation’s “Lebanese Blonde.” It was great, but it was not what I had planned.

We made it to my hotel (the Omni Shoreham which is AMAZING) where I handed off the car and settled into my digs for a bit before I walked (over a mile) to 14th Street for dinner with a Twitter friend that I had known for a little bit. I’m so glad she came out and we got to see each other face to face. It was a pleasant surprise with yummy food and astro convo.

The next day, I went to have breakfast with a dear friend and got to catch up with her a bit. It was nice to finally see her face to face, too, and there was no weird online/offline switch. It was seamless, like we had been talking for a long time (which we had been). This was what I was craving, like how it had been for me in my early 20s.

It was nice to be back in a city, too, to be able to walk (albeit with a heavy backpack), to go to my bank, to see city people doing city things. D.C. is not as big as Chicago or New York City, and it has a different vibe, like a “we’re doing big governmental things that can change the world” vibe. It was my kind of nerdy. It also wasn’t that noisy.

I walked from Dupont Circle to the White House, which was strange to view for the first time. It was definitely thrilling but it reminded me of seeing Rockefeller Center’s ice rink in New York City for the first time: it was much smaller than what I thought it would be. There were some protesters and tourists milling about, taking selfies in front of the fence. Some young white woman was loudly singing the National Anthem in a minor key (more like off-key). So my little I, too, am America moment got ruined by a wannabe protest moment.

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A view of the Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial

I’ll skip the rest of about National Mall and how I didn’t walk up the Washington Monument (although I did walk up the Bunker Hill Memorial), or how my jeans chafed me so bad I had sores, or how moving it was to go to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, or how I wished I had taken a picture of Union Station because it was so beautiful, it looked like a museum. I was just glad that I was able to have some Bojangles fried chicken at the train station, that I got on the right train to get to BWI, and that I was able to fly home and have my roommate pick me up and taken my bone-tired butt home. I had done my good deed, seen a couple of friends, and racked up over 1000 miles on Waze.

The friend stuff? Well, vacations, even if they are working ones like the one I had, can be proving ground for relationships. This trip to D.C. made me re-think about my friendships and why I had made these horrible assumptions about certain ones.

I just didn’t feel the same afterward. I felt the weight of the imbalance and have moved on from a few friendships, ones that I knew were already gone, or ones that proved themselves to be not worth the time and effort I put into them. And it sucks.

I care too much, period. And as I’ve been re-learning who I am and what I value, it’s been tough to see how overextended I am in relationships. It’s probably penance for when I felt like I was being too much or demanded too much in friendships. Either way, it’s been unhealthy, and I wasn’t expecting to let go as I’ve done recently. But, I feel better, so that means it was for the best.

This is one of my adulting flaws: I’m not good at demoting friends, or making them less of a priority. It’s like trying to be friends with exes–I just don’t do it. Either we’re friends or we’re not.

I am not the perfect friend, but I want to be a good friend–a better friend, even. I definitely am not the perfect daughter, but I tried to be and failed. And that’s OK–pleasing mothers, narcissistic or not, is an impossible task.

Driving over a thousand miles, I came back home and was feeling not as connected, to my mom or to a few people I called friends. I wasn’t expecting that.

But that’s what was true. It’s not pretty, and I’m not that elegant when it comes to the nuances of human relationships. Maybe I’m as elegant as a butter knife sawing through a steak. But I do want to get better,  so I don’t have to cut and run so often–or at all.

Instead of seeing the world as black and white, a point of view that a a sun opposition moon aspect in astrology can create, I can better perceive those shades of grey, these subtler gradations of where most of us live, just trying to do our best.

Daughters

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“Daughter of the forest” – Tina Lawson

From my last blog post, I should have ended it with a song: “Daughters” by Lissie. So I’ll start this post with the song.

When I was writing about how awesome women are, and how awful men can be to women, this song came to mind. It’s catchy as hell, and it encapsulates what I was saying. You should listen to Lissie talk about the song, too.

We are the daughters
We are the damned and doomed
Give us your violence
We won’t be silent
We are the shelter
We are the helpers
We are the daughters

I don’t have anything more to add except for a fist raised in solidarity.