My He(ART)-Full Life

Monday, May 11, 2015

owning my story

"Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”- Dr. Brene Brown
I gave birth to my daughter the same month I turned 40...entirely unprepared for the mothering journey. While I loved Tara so fully and deeply and w(holy) the instant I saw her...I had no map of how to be mother. Or, I should say, the map I did have was entirely wrong. Or maybe I should say that I had 2 maps!! Very confusing...I know...even for me! I come from an extremely abusive/toxic/dysfunctional childhood and while I did quite a bit of healing work in my early 30' wasn't nearly enough to prepare me to mother my daughter. My "father" (and I use that term very loosely...was not my biological father nor a parent in any sense of the word) was horribly abusive, an alcoholic, a rage-aholic and an authoritarian; a patriarch in the absolute worst sense.  My "mother" had a "collapsed psyche and personality" (my own definition) and was most definitely not interested in being a mother, only pretending to be so. She was cold, equally abusive, and more invested in appearances and what others thought of her. So...I grew up in a "family" that was so thoroughly invested in lies and denial, in pretense and caring about appearances; it was like growing up in a house of mirrors where nothing was as it seemed but everyone pretended it was. Kind of like the Emperor's New Clothes. And these were lies that everyone knew about...but no-one spoke about. And there was always a tremendous amount of fear. Fear fear fear. Fear about speaking the truth, fear about saying or doing the wrong thing (this was arbitrary, of course because anything could have been the wrong thing depending on 101 different things). My childhood was all about survival. 
So one of the huge tasks I had at hand was to identify my false belief systems; the lies I had been taught from such an early age. Foundational truths such as love, family, loyalty, respect etc etc...all had to be carefully looked over and I had to carefully discern whether it was truth or not. I had other monumental tasks also...setting healthy boundaries, self care, truth telling and honesty, processing my feelings and figuring out what the heck a healthy relationship looked like. Recovery was (and is) overwhelming. It's a process that I began when I turned 30 and continues to this day.'s the thing...this beautiful, sweet lady over here gave me another map on how to mother; and I didn't even fully realize it until I, myself, became a mom. Her name was Sophie...and she was our maid/nanny for my entire childhood until we immigrated to Canada. Under apartheid South Africa this was quite common and while my adult self looks at the horrible inequality and inhumanity of the entire set child self rejoiced. This lady right here saved me...entirely and utterly saved me!! She loved me with her entire being and I loved her right back. She carried me on her back (like most African mothers do), she treated me with care, value and kindness. While she couldn't read or write, she was fully literate in the languages of love, humanity, reciprocity, validation, communication. She would tell me all sorts stories teaching me along the way and passing down the singing of songs, the loving of earth, the wisdom of her mothers. She taught me about the things that truly mattered in life. She was humble and true. I used to creep out of bed in the middle of the night to go and sleep with her, I used to want to spend every spare moment with her...just being in the presence of her warmth and love. She was manna from the heavens and she saved me. The absolute most terrible part of leaving S. Africa was leaving her. The absolute worst part of my teen years of enduring the physical/mental and psychological violence from my "parents"; their cruelty ...was not having Sophie with me. Those were the absolute worst years but her love sustained me; the seeds she had planted, while dormant, were still there.

And after I, myself, became a mother...those seeds started to blossom and bloom and grow and thrive. Most of the just kind of happened ...I didn't consciously think about it. But other times...I had to agonize over the decision...second and third guessing myself until i felt quesy. When Tara was about 3 weeks old...I discovered the Moby wrap...a most amazing piece of fabric that I could carry Tara around in...and I did!!! I literally didn't put her down...and she was the absolute happiest baby ever ever ever. And I was the happiest mommy ever ever ever. I decided to listen to my intuition instead of all the buzz and noise around me. I decided to follow my heart and tend to the needs of my baby. I decided to throw out so much of what I was raised with (culturally as well as personally) and forge a different path. I decided to set healthy boundaries (and sometimes...walls when necessary). Not that any of it was easy because of course, I made mistakes. I stumbled and fell and utterly failed at times. But I always got back up...I always tried some more. I struggled with the questions and then struggled some more with the answers. But through it all...I loved my daughter with a fierceness and tenderness I never knew possible. I instantly became so vulnerable and while it scared the crap out of me...I relished in it too. And along the way of mothering my daughter, I had to mother myself also. I had to extend kindness, mySELF. I had to make a full commitment to recovery and healing mySELF. Now...instead of looking at how far I have to go...I marvel and honor how far I have come. Now I can forgive myself...I can be gentle with myself, I can celebrate my strengths whist also acknowledging my weaknesses. And so we have grown together, my daughter and I. I can truly say that my daughter birthed me as much as, probably more so, I birthed her. And as I navigate my mothering journey...I am learning to trust mySELF more and more. I am learning to lean into "what feels right" rather than what I "should" be doing. I am leaning into my inner wisdom knowing that kindness wins the day. Knowing that Tara teaches me just as much (more so even) than what I teach her. Knowing that change is inevitable. So that I can be the mother to my girl that I never had...but so desperately needed. All the while...simply being grateful that I get to have her in my life...that I get to love this sweet girl all whilst guiding her on her own life's journey.
*This is a small part of my story...but as I heal and  strengthen my voice...I will be sharing more. Learning to trust myself and the process and send things out into the world imperfect(ly) and all. xxx


Sarah said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm so glad you had Sophie. What a gift. Xoxo

laurie said...

I do believe in "angel mothers" - those that love us in a motherly way but are not technically "family", like Sophie. She sounds like such a truly wonderful woman.

Denise LaFrance said...

Your blog is tremendous, creative, Raw, Real and oh so uplifting. Inspiring.
Thank you for sharing. Your daughter, Husband and You are all wonderful testaments that the everlasting benefits of Harmony & Love supersede the corrosive theft, damage & black, empty vacuum of malignant narcissistic abuse. Hate diminishes but Love builds; Conquers.
Sincerely, Denise LaFrance the painter

Denise LaFrance said...

PS yes, thank od for your beloved friend & mentor Sophie.