Recently I’ve been discovering my ability to love people even when they hurt me. I used to think that was some sanctimonious, self-sacrificing shit. And it was when my mom was the one who told me to do it with my dad. But what felt self-diminishing is now the most radical act of self-care I give myself.
The X factor? I’ve given myself a voice when I feel hurt by someone. And I understand our behavior is always largely about ourselves. So I feel more capable of preserving my sense of self in the face of someone else’s behavior.
Last weekend, I had the police called on me in a massive overreaction by the other party. It resolved pretty quickly but it was still a terrifying experience. I was understandably shaken and angry and scared and I needed to let all of that out, so I sat in the back of my parents’ car and cried and said all my ‘what-ifs’ out loud. It helped SO much. My mom didn’t think it was “fair” that I was so sad from some overreactive asshole (who is definitely dealing with his own shit.. or maybe isn’t). She repeatedly told me it isn’t a serious allegation and I have nothing to worry about. But that wasn’t what I needed nor wanted to hear from my mother! I wanted her to wrap her arms around me and say “Oh you must have been so scared. You did good.” I was seriously hurt by what felt like my mom’s callousness and I told her this. Later I understood this is how she responds to her children’s pain. This is who she is, and all I can do is express what I feel and what I want and hope some part of her understands and hears me. But I’m at a place currently in my life where showing up for what I feel is almost always enough. I don’t need my mother to change. I so want her to change — I won’t deny that. My heart did ache when I wrote those imaginary words of comfort because I so yearn to receive that from my mom and dad.
But for now, this is what I can live with. I no longer want to rob myself of the love around me because it isn’t perfect. And in return, I get to laugh at my dad’s corny video editing skills as I watch my brother blow out his birthday cake. I get to feel my heart bloom as I watch my dad watch me leave from the front porch — wearing a teddy bear apron and singing in the rocking chair. I get to laugh at his incredible, childlike sense of humor and imagination as he wonders what dogs’ inner dialogue sounds like. I get to wrap my arms about my mom before I get in my car and exchange apologies. I get to laugh at just how much of my mom’s daughter I am.