Rest and Digest: Celebrating a new Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving holiday was emotionally the safest and neurologically the longest parasympathetic stretch of my entire life.  I am the calmest and most grounded in my body I have ever been following this particular holiday.  The people that were allowed to gather near me this week created love sharing similar values.  Mostly, my time was spent with my son and my husband that I adore so deeply it goes beyond any written words.  I allowed myself to be cared for by myself and others.  Yesterday, I napped hard and would occasionally awaken and watch my husband clean our home as we prepared together for emerging from our nest back into the wide world.  I left last night and went to soak alone for 30 minutes in hot water and did not even consider taking my phone with me.  This is new.  So much is new as I close this holiday weekend that writing felt necessary for true integration.  This was not the adrenal-addled Thanksgiving of years past due to my own HARD decisions and emotional growth.

As a child of abuse my synapses were wired from infancy in fight or flight.  My biological father used a shotgun inside our house in rage.  Later he tried to kill my mother by cutting her brake lines and I lived through his violent presence in our home and my brain/body remembered. My mother was the child of an alcoholic and her transgenerational programming of neglect and abuse instructed my nervous system as well. My birth was her failed 16 year old escape plan from her family of origin. The repetition of abusive relationships shifted and changed over the years for both my mother and myself but only this year was I finally able to find clarity and truly cut from the web of the abuse of my childhood.  

I came into utter clarity this year and was forced to let go of both of my parents after I witnessed the abuse of my mother in my home.   

The patterns of abuse within my mother and step father’s relationship were less obvious than a shotgun being fired in the house and yet, the patterns and neurological impact were still there.  My clarity is this, the patterns of abuse ends with me. This cycle ends with me, mostly for the health and well-being of my own child and now I realize for the health of my of own neurology. Since distancing myself from both of my parents, living in my body feels very different and there has been so so much grief. Because of my growing clarity I bravely stood up immediately to witnessed abuse this past September and asked my step dad to leave my home. What ensued was scary and hurtful AND predictable behavior from an abusive person. AND, I stood strong in my clarity despite many attempts by my mother to smooth this over.

You can do all the work on yourself imaginable and if you still allow persons utilizing abuse in your presence, the cycle will continue. It gets extremely tricky when an abusive person is your parent or step parent.  I miss my mom every single day.  We were extremely close and talked daily AND I now see how her adult decisions are continuing to support this pattern of abuse.  Now we share only a few words once a week as I do not want to continue to enable her.  I do not miss my step father.  Over the past few months, I have been able to see more clearly the impact his unchecked abuse has had on our family over the past 30 years.  This week I received my last text from him and I finally blocked him from my cell phone.  Prior to making this choice I was able to tell him in utter clarity that I was afraid of him and no longer desired a relationship with him. 

Writing this blog is terrifying and cathartic as I have spent so much energy covering up for my family over the years.  It has been my job to pretend everything was ok when it never really was.  I was asked to call this man Dad when he never actually was a father to me.  I tried desperately as a teen to create something out of absolutely nothing because it was what I was given.  Today I consciously call that energy home.  I no longer need a father like I once did.  I am no longer the scared and lonely child I once was.  

I am whole. I am loved unconditionally and deeply. I consciously create my own safety and care.

I write today because I know with certainty that others spent the holidays with folks who may not be good for their nervous systems.  I write this because I want to continue to remind MYSELF that as grown ADULTS, we have a choice, always in who we stand closest to.  As children we have none and this helplessness can spread unconsciously into adulthood if we do not examine our choices.  

Nothing has been particularly easy about the choices I have made this year AND like many of the hard choices in life, the results are worth it. I choose to love my parents deeply from a distance that reflects their actual behaviors rather than an idealized child’s dream of an intact family. I embrace my clarity consciously again and again until it become habitual. And, in this choice I can come home, truly home within myself.

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