Healing work is ironically one of the most painful things we do. I used to think it was this beautiful experience of releasing and allowing. The reality is it is more about standing up and facing everything, looking that pain in the eye and learning to either accept and release it or learning how to tell it its power over you is over. It is cutting away at the self-imposed strings we’ve created between ourselves and that shadow and admitting we were the ones tying the cords. And it is doing that over and over again until you believe it, until you feel it in your bones. That is the painful part. Just when you think you’ve mastered it, something comes back again. That is the path and we are shown the same things until we truly learn.
One of the traumas I’ve been healing is a generational thing, specifically with my mother, where we live in martyrdom. We have this unhealthy expectation where sacrificing all of our wants precludes us or indebts us to others having to fulfill our wants. Then we live in misery for not having the life we want and lash out whenever things are inconvenient. A small example is I used to FLIP out with driving—I still do get mad because people struggle with the basics, but I digress—to the point where it felt like a personal attack every time someone cut me off. It took me years to understand it was about control and I was focusing my energy outside rather than on what was really bothering me.
Back to the mother stuff. I learned early on that what I really needed didn’t matter. I was taught you give all of yourself and if you don’t, you’re selfish. I was taught the people who got what they needed were either lucky or selfish. My mother was raised this way and she was reminded over and over again of her mistakes from her mother—specifically how my mother’s mistakes made her mother look bad. I will give it to my mom, she didn’t pass on that part of her trauma, but she did pass on the confusion about relationships and who serves what purpose. Put another way, she taught me to ignore what I needed in favor of what other people needed and to expect them to fulfill my needs. And it makes sense, she never learned to take care of herself because of her mother. She thought if you were “good” enough you would get what you wanted. My grandmother went to her grave angry that she didn’t get what she wanted in life and that she sacrificed what she wanted in hopes she would be worthy. I can no longer repeat that pattern.
I had to learn about inherent worth on my own and that changed everything. That made me aware of who I am and how to fulfill my own needs and desires. That cleared the path for me to fulfill my purpose because part of our need is to express who we are. When we express who we are we create space for the world to do the same. The more I got into the habit of self-expression I understood self-care because that is how I figured out what I actually needed—unconditional love and the chance to be who I am. I didn’t want to have to appear a certain way anymore. I didn’t want to have to hope someone would take care of me. I didn’t want to be a Cinderella hoping my prince would save me. I wanted to live my life and I wanted to LOVE my life.
For a long time I felt so angry at having to hide who I was, at having to be the quiet kid, the one who never caused any trouble. I was angry at being told my joy and excitement meant I was out of control and too loud or that it made me a bimbo. I feel things intensely, both the good and the bad, so when I feel joy, I express it LOUD and with exuberance. Life is meant to be felt and in feeling it wholly we allow it to move through us. It took a long time to not give a damn if I was “too much” for some people. I got angry with my mother for making me curb my childhood in order to appear a certain way. It took a long time to understand she didn’t know any better when she passed on these patterns. Part of my healing was learning to not go in guns blazing with her—she didn’t even know what she was doing. I realized the best healing I could do was to continue to express myself.
So, as I work through this, my mother healing physically, and me healing the generational stuff inside of me, I know I will have moments that will bring me back to that anger and that feeling of unworthiness. I’ve made a promise to myself to make sure my needs are met by myself and to remember that I am capable. I made a promise to myself to not give a damn about what things look like. This is life—who the hell says it has to look any way at all? Life isn’t for looking it is for living. And the more I heal the past of shame with self-expression, the more open I feel to experiencing what life has to offer. That is my wish for all of us—not that we all have generational mother trauma. I wish us all healing and self-acceptance and that loud, beautiful, joyous life we can’t wait to take a bite out of. If that means saying, “I will not repeat this again” in the face of fear until I die, so be it. I will fight for my needs and I hope you will too.