Someday I might look back on the happenings of 2012 and be glad. Certainly enough good came from them that a case could be made for their necessity. Not today though. No, today I still recall the 9 months my mother lived with us and the subsequent emotional wreckage with a tender heart.
I kicked my mother and teenage brother out of my house. They lived in a homeless shelter for two months. Those sentences are SO HARD, you guys. I could explain and it would all make sense. I could tell you and you’d say it was the right decision. Because it was. But even right decisions are god awful sometimes. Boundaries are the hardest thing I’ve ever learned.
Truth? I don’t regret it. I still believe there was no other choice. And honestly, there isn’t anything about that time that I would do differently. We succeeded in getting her and my brother away from an abusive situation that I don’t believe she would not have otherwise removed them from.
Less than one week after they moved out I was sitting in a therapist’s office. Having done therapy and studied psychology I knew and believed in it’s effectiveness if you’re willing to do the work (I also knew I was close to a breakdown and needed help). I think that’s the part a lot of people miss. Therapy is SO much work. The hour I spent every week was like a dose of medicine that I spent the rest of the week digesting. Therapy “homework” lasted hours several nights a week, often resulting in hysterical tears, heaving sobs, and (on the best days) life changing revelations. The thing no one tells you about therapy is that it’s pretty meaningless without the work. Only you can dig down and rewind, sorting through why you always sit with your back to the wall, or when you first started believing you weren’t worth the skin you lived in. No one knows those things but you and without the ability to articulate them, no one can help you heal those wounds.
So I started seeing an amazing woman named Jackie. Every week I would tell her more of my story and we would heal my wounds. I learned that within all of us is a child that we must honor and care for. My childhood ended at 8, so that’s how old my little Leah will always be. She deserved so much more.
I also learned that because of my abuse at the hands of my stepfather I was in no position to see the dysfunction of my home and mother. I continued to deny that reality well into my twenties. I only knew that motherhood looked really hard and moms really hated it. I couldn’t understand why anyone would choose motherhood. But then my best friend became a mom and she seemed to really love it. She would choose to spend time with her kid even if it meant a 30 minute drive for 20 minutes of story time before bed. I was befuddled.
So I started paying attention. I would spend time with my friends with their kids and observe their genuine joy. I listened to stories of when my husband was a kid and all the beautiful things his parents did with him. I started to understand that some people really do love being parents. But, I was left with this nagging terror that being a good mom is something people just know how to do… then I decided it was probably hereditary. Definitely not worth the risk all things considered… but it was too late to continue burying my head in the sand. I knew. I wanted to be a mom. It was then that I vowed to myself to never be one until I was certain I would be capable of being a great one.
At this point I was working through a book called “The emotionally-absent mother” and reminding myself daily that I didn’t deserve my childhood. I didn’t deserve to be abandoned by my father. I didn’t deserve to be abused and manipulated by the man she married. I didn’t deserve to be touched. I didn’t deserve to be blamed. I did not deserve to be resented. I did not deserve her conditional love. I am so totally worth loving and always have been.
Do me a favor, no matter who you are or what you’ve been through… say that sentence again to yourself. So totally worth loving. You, me, all of us. Believing it changed everything.
When I believed that, I began to know myself. I learned who I am and what I stand for. I learned what I’m capable of. Then, I learned that if I could teach myself to be a good nanny, I could do the same in parenthood. If I could be different I could definitely do different.
My abhorrence to motherhood was a denial of the desire for something I didn’t think I was capable of. But once you know yourself you know there isn’t anything you can’t do (the four years as a nanny haven’t hurt either). So here we are, Pen and I, eager for those two pink lines. There was quite a bit of time in between my revelation and his readiness (hardest wait ever), but now we’re sitting together, legs dangling, on the edge of a whole new life together, and I can’t wait.