How am I different?

it's never too late SOM

It shouldn’t have had to be this much work just to be normal.  It shouldn’t have been so hard to be noticed or loved in a positive way.

–Michelle Piper

And yet, it was, and is.

When I read that in an email from Michelle Piper about narcissistic mothers a couple of weeks ago, it just hit me in the chest. And as tears start to form in my eyes, I know why I haven’t wanted to blog for so long. It’s hard to face the chasm that had been formed between me and the people I love for so long, and how much I bridged that gap.

But it’s tiring.

But that quote just summed up everything. It’s been so much work. It’s been so hard.

The email talked about how children of narcissistic mothers can look at how easily people can bring love into their lives, and how we have to work to just get to normal.

So an exercise that Piper offers is to think about what would have life been like if I had had the healthy parenting and mentoring that I needed. I’ll share that with you.

Right now, I could say that I wouldn’t have to end friendships and relationships because of me trying so hard. Every once in a while, I will find myself in some relational contortion that doesn’t look like relating. It looks like pain. And then, I have to just let go, in order to stay sane.

So instead of having to bend myself into someone that I’m not, I could have had healthier relationships throughout my life and avoided unhealthy ones altogether.

And that’s honestly the biggest thing–avoiding pitfalls. Maybe by having less unhealthy relationships, I could have had healthier ones, longer lasting ones.

Most likely, I’d already have my own family since so much of my 20s and 30s has been a very long healing journey that I’m probably at the end of (finally). The prime of my life has been spent healing old wounds. A lot of wisdom comes from those wounds, but it seems like such a waste of my time and my youth.

By having a healthier sense of self, maybe my career trajectory with writing would have been more forthright. My parents knew I wrote and spoke with passion, but they never cared to nurture that within me. I had to go back and do that myself.

Maybe I’d be a much better, more successful writer by now. Maybe I wouldn’t be financially struggling as much as I have been. Maybe I’d be a richer person–not in money, but in depth and experience. Maybe I wouldn’t be as afraid and as tired as I am now.

I am 39, almost 40, and I feel like right now, I’m just starting to get this whole life thing–and I don’t mean that in a mid-life crisis way. Just in a life really doesn’t have to be this hard. Love and hope and peace and security are all out there for me, and are also within.

The good thing is–there’s still time for me to have everything I’ve mentioned. I’m not dead yet. I’m not a lost cause. But I can mourn the woman I should have been or could have been. I’m grateful that I am here, right now–even if it’s brimming with disappointment. The disappointment will fade. The wounds are better understood now, so they can heal.

I don’t believe in the idea that as souls we choose the family we are born into. It sounds like fancy spiritualized victim blaming. Would billions of people choose poverty? Slavery? Abuse? Look, I’m a Capricorn. I love life challenges, but I’m not a masochist. This lack of parental love, affection, and guidance is not (primarily) about my soul’s growth–it’s about the lack of soul growth in my parents. It’s infuriating and saddening–there’s nothing really noble about it. That’s a spiritual bypass from the truth.

The truth is, you play the hand you’re dealt. If you’re dealt a great hand, I hope you play it well. If you have a shitty hand, I hope you play it well, too. I’m fortunate to have been born in this time, with all these psychological and spiritual tools which are available to me, with the mind and will that I have, so I can play my own shitty hand.

It could have been worse, but it could have been so much better…