Last week my step-Father called to tell me that my Mother took a bad fall while in their back yard. She recently had surgery on her right shoulder and, thankfully, didn’t fall on that shoulder. Unfortunately, she fell on her left shoulder and there may be some fractures. She also fell pretty hard on her head. Needless to say, she’s in quite a bit of pain and isn’t able to do much. Her left knee was recently replaced and there seems to be some speculation that it may not be working properly so she’s falling a lot.
I spoke to her during the call and she sounded so defeated and ready to give up. Being the person that I am I immediately offered to come down and help. She tried to tell me that she’ll be ok and that there really wasn’t anything that I could do. (There’s no doubt where I get my independence from.) Then she said that the house was a mess. To give you perspective on my Mother’s thinking, having a messy house means visitors may not want to come and, also, she would feel bad having someone there when the house is such a mess. This was the hidden message in her statement so I told her to let me come down and clean up the house for her. She immediately started to cry. At that point, I knew that I needed to go.
A few calls later I am set to make the 16 hour drive in one day either Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. It seems crazy but it’s cheaper than flying at this point and it’s a drive I’ve done many times since moving to Oregon in 2000. Plus, the idea of having my car with me brings a sense of freedom. I can escape quickly, if absolutely needed.
Now, you would think that this would not really be a big deal, aside from the fact that my Mother is in this physical state, and that I should be completely focused on helping her in her time of need. I mean, she is my Mother. (To clarify, she is my adoptive Mother.) But, the fact of the matter is that it is a big deal. It's a really big deal.
The thing is, I am beyond stressed out and really concerned about the possibility of this trip setting me back mentally and emotionally during this time of major transition in my life.
In general, the judgments that people place upon me I see as just that. Judgments that belong to someone else and that are not what make me or break me. But, the judgments that are placed upon me by my family shoot through my chest and penetrate my heart and soul. In an instant I am transported back to that little girl who just wanted to be the perfect child and make everyone happy.
The truth of the matter is that I’ve never lived up to their expectations. This part of my family is where I got the idea that I was to grow up to become someone who made a lot of money while sacrificing any sort of happiness or love. Become a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant. Anything that made money because how much I made would determine how successful I was and how worthy I was. After all of that, I was to be married to a man and have two kids. The ‘American Dream’, right?
Being a tattooed, lesbian who looked like a guy was not what my family had planned for me. It doesn’t matter how ‘good’ of a person I am inside. All that matters is what is seen on the outside. Before you get to know me.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about let me explain the reaction that my tattoos invoke. Since the last time I’ve been home I’ve gotten two more tattoos. When my Mother discovered my first tattoo she looked disappointed then proceeded to tell me that she was just talking to one of her friends about me and told her how I was such a good daughter because I never got mixed up in drugs or alcohol and never had any tattoos. I was instantly judged as something bad because of my tattoo. Then she tried to explain that she already worries about the way people judge me for looking the way I do and now they’ll judge me even more for being tattooed. I tried to explain to her that their judgment was none of my concern but she just wasn’t getting it. In that instant I felt like a little girl again being chastised for the way I thought and acted. Immediately I shut down and tucked away any feelings that were bubbling to the surface.
I spent a lot of time journaling while growing up. It was the only way for me to get things out. Before long that was the only place where I felt safe to ‘talk’ about the things I was thinking. It was a place where I wouldn’t be judged.
At some point I became fearful that someone would find my journals so I got rid of them and kept things in my head which eventually made me crazy. It’s taken a lot of time to come out of that space and start to sort through the crazy and I feel like I’ve done a fairly good job of it so far. It’s just that each time I go home I fall back a bit into that crazy space where I can’t do anything right and am completely unworthy of anything.
While thinking about all of this as well as other stressors that I am allowing to effect my everyday life at the moment, I felt incredibly close to completely losing it yesterday. My stomach was in knots and the tears were on the brink of falling. Honestly, I kind of wanted to hit something. Ok, no. I wanted to hit something. This is where football used come in handy.
I need to go take care of my Mother but I cannot allow this trip home to set me back. Specially right now during this major transition of my life and while stepping into my power to take control of my life.
Dammit. I am not that child anymore. I am 40 years old. I am an adult with my own life, capable of making my own decisions and I am a good person. I am not that little girl who can be controlled by her family. Their disappointment in me is not my baggage to handle. It belongs to them. I am not living this life for them or anyone else.
My choices and my life are mine and mine alone.