A Day in my Shoes

Write about the event in the third person, as though it happened to someone else. Change the location and, if possible, the gender of this someone else. After you’ve described the event and its effects on the person, read your story aloud. How does reading and hearing about the event as though it happened to someone else change your perspective?

 

My mother often talked about how my grandfather was abusive to her and my grandmother and uncle. This admission came with a lot of vitriol and disgust from my grandfather especially. I remember my mother and grandfather  arguing when I was young and living in my grandparents first house (i’ll call it the blue house from now on). I only heard them argue a few times but I knew that it was serious. My grandfather loves a good below the belt comment. He will say anything to insult you. I mean almost anything: liar, “women should know their place”, “Its women like you that are the reason men hate women.” That last comment is the most nerve wracking because I really respected him. His favorite line is “ he has to respect me as a man”. Which at this point doesn’t even resonate. If you want to be respected as a man and admit your faults.

As my mother tells me, my grandmother was a Jehovah’s witness and she would spend hours alone in their family basement.

I am going to avoid changing the gender and the person because I would rather look through my mothers eyes for this letter in third person.

I am alone in this basement. I have nothing to do. Often I stare at the walls and wait for someone to pay attention to me. My father at this point was very loving to me and spent time with me. As I have gotten older, this has  changed. At this point my younger brother was born. Often, when my father would come home drunk, he would attack my mother. I often try to protect my mother. My strength keeps me and give me the will to be strong. I miss the father I used to have. I miss being younger and being adored. I miss it.

One day I am going to move out. I am going to show them that I can do anything. I will continue to fight my father until I no longer have the strength,

Love DB.

This letter was hard to write. It was so scary to feel the same way my mother  may have felt at that time. It eerily made me feel much like how I remember my adolescence. The loneliness. The desperation in this letter, makes it hard for me to write. The anger for my grandfather is so deep. My hatred of my mother was always at the forefront of my mind. Tortured by memories of her, this makes her seem so small. It makes her seem powerless and powerful at the same time.

Recently going through my email, I found this letter to my grandfather. I feel it sums up my feelings for him.

Letter to my grand father

Hi,

I just wanted to write you a letter to tell you how I feel.

I am so hurt and disappointed about your thoughts about women. It hurts because not only do you  speak to granny like you don’t respect her, you have spoken about my mother and women in general like we are lesser than you because you are a man.

How can I respect you if you don’t respect my grandmother, my mother, and my younger cousin. How can you love me if you don’t respect women.  I have dealt with feelings of depression and that I don’t deserve nice things in my life. I have no doubt that your thoughts about women have had an impact and is part of the reason I feel this way.

I really hope that in the future you can be more thoughtful with your words, especially around your youngest granddaughter. Please don’t teach her that men have the right to talk to her like she is worthless.

Don’t teach your granddaughter that women are not capable. Don’t talk to your wife like she has not been there for you. Don’t talk to my mother like she hasn’t worked hard inspire of mistakes she has made. Don’t disrespect your mother, your sisters, your wife, your daughter, your son, or me. Please learn to appreciate all the amazing things women have given you , including your mother for giving you life on this planet. In the future please think about what you say and how that affects the people you love., especially since your close family is all women.

Good night, Good luck.

Letters to the Editor

Write a letter to your past self—the self that went through the loss or trauma—from your today self. What would you say to comfort her? What advice would you give? Offer your past self the acceptance and love that s/he needs.

Hmm I always said I wouldn’t say anything to my past self. I don’t think my past self would even take the advice. For the sake of this writing exercise, I’ll give it a try.

Dear me,

The first thing you should do is change your name. I go by a different name now, but I think it would be a great idea to think of yourself differently. Your family is just as unhealthy as you think they are . Whatever you feel about your family, it is best to roll with it. Don’t try to hide away from your feelings about them. To comfort you, I’ll just say, that you will complete the goals you had in mind, earlier than expected.

After talking to our therapist, you will realize  your anger is not caused by yourself, it is caused by the situations that are happening to you. Your mom is not mentally well. She is not and never will be someone you can depend on. In the future, you both will end up in a court case. In which you will lose. You will also regain dignity. Your grandmother will be at the trial on your mother’s side. Ignore it. And just be happy you can leave unharmed.  

Avoid the enmeshment of your family. They want you to stay stuck with them. If you are stuck with them, you’ll have no choice but to be abused. Our grandparents are abusive. As much as they love you, they hate you and want to see you suffer just as much. They will play as if they are the good guys, but their are no good guys in a family that abuses each other.

Keep practicing music. It seems impossible, but fuck it why not. You should just start thinking more in the realm of “why not?” instead of “why me”. Over the course of time, you’ll begin friendships and they will end just as quickly. Some friendships will be tested, others will bring you out of your shell.

Have as much fun as possible. We both know that we never cease to have a fun time. You’ll also have a lot of mood swings. I mean some uncontrollable and scary mood swings. This is okay, and it is not your fault. Though, it is your responsibility to do your best to find out what is wrong.

Your choice of picking a career in art is a great decision. Not many people will continue to build their craft. Many give up on art in general. You won’t be the person to do that. You will be a great artist. You will win awards. You will meet many people and enjoy so much of your life. Always try to enjoy life. Life is a gift that can be altered and changed at any moment.

Enjoy your life, sweet girl !

Perfectionism

What have you learned by going through this trauma that now affects the way you make decisions? Write about positive decisions you’ve made or believe you will make as a result of what you went through.

My trauma in general has made me view myself as someone who I possibly don’t come across as in everyday life and to other people who know me well.  I often think of myself as angry, withdrawn and lazy. Lazy is a word I have heard my mother and father call me specifically many, many times. “Why are you a slob?” “Why are you so lazy?” As an adult, I know that I was and am not lazy. Okay lazy at somethings, but overall I am a very determined and hard working mother fucker. When I set my mind on a goal, it will most likely be accomplished. I am so confident in myself that it can backfire. Especially As far as my career. My perfectionism in this area has taken its toll on my self esteem.

Because my mother was so abusive towards me, her love was often based on my accomplishments. As a human, you simply  can not accomplish everything. It is not possible. My mother brainwashed me into believing it was possible. At least that I should be looking and striving to attain perfection. I hate perfection. I think it a cruel joke that humans love to play on themselves. My mother often asked for my forgiveness, and would do as she pleased. She would fail at businesses, she would fail at being there for me, she would fail at even being a nice person to people she met and friends she had known for years.

My mother and father began talking about my laziness in 7th -8th grade. It was first because of my grades. Then because my room was a mess. I don’t remember it being very messy, but according to them it was. They blamed me for any bugs, or mice we had in our apartment. They blamed me for not trying hard enough to avoid being like my uncle ( whom they deemed as lazy). There were car rides, when my father would lecture me the entire way to school. It was at nauseum.

For me, I was never lazy. I always worked hard and strived to be respected for my strong work ethic. I do not remember teachers calling me lazy, up until my mother began to use drugs and drink heavily. For me, it was no issue to accept my parents faults, and acknowledge their humanity. It was no issue that they were at times lazy and enmeshed with each other. They are human, just like I.

“ In practicing  meditation , we’re not trying to live up to some kind of ideal- quite the opposite. We’re just being with our experiences, whatever it is.”

When Things Fall Apart Pema Chodon

The positive that comes from these experiences is that I am and continue to be a high achiever. My life is based on my success. Not as much about material or success in the capitalist understanding of the word. My success is now about my growth and the larger dreams I had given up. Each year I have challenged myself to become more of the person I want to be and envisioned myself. My spiritual work has brought me to another realm. I feel that I am part of something larger.

My abuse has led me to work towards becoming a psychotherapist. My abuse gives my life a larger purpose. It shows me that strength and determination can get you through much more than you ever dreamed. I am here. I am ready.

“ This job is not my life. I did my best. If I get the job it is wonderful. If I don’t get the job, that’s wonderful, too. It would mean this job is not for me and there is something else out there for me. I am finding exactly what I need. I trust the grand design. I let go and trust that everything is happening for my highest good.”

Feel the Fear and Beyond, Susan Jeffers.

Good Night,  and Good Luck.

You lose.

Emotional Needs

What emotional needs are you trying to obtain from someone else?  List the biggest needs you feel are not being fulfilled in your relationship.Write the feelings you experience as a result of these unmet needs.

Now, think back to your earliest memories and think of a time when you had the experience of having these same unmet needs and the resulting emotions.  Write about that time in your life.

Right now, I feel like I am not trying to obtain emotional needs as much as I used to. Currently, I am learning to merely exist. It is not so difficult because I don’t have a job. It feels like fate. I have been looking for a job( full time) for a few years now. Emotionally it makes me feel like a child. Emotionally I know that is a good idea to not work at this time. I am going to be a performer and then in 5-6 years will be working on mental health advocacy and my own clinic. I have started my business plan, but am taking a break to find a job related in the research field. It is an exciting prospect. It is a job that is not art related, which is a welcomed break. Working on jobs based on art, art education, museums, is a scam. Okay maybe not a scam, but increasingly hard to find a job that pays well.

Emotionally, I want a better relationship with my sleeping and dreams. I do not know how to calm my body down, more like I don’t want to calm my body down. Sleeping  is the hardest time of the day for me. For me since the age of 18-19 , there have been no breaks for my brain during the night time.

This image is from the night I went to my sleep study. My brain waves and my sleep was monitored. Found out that I deal with paradoxical insomnia.

Paradoxical insomnia is sleep state misperception, “insomnia without objective findings. A major focus of cognitive restructuring in this case is to help the patient recognize that in fact they are indeed getting more sleep than they thought.- Psychology Today.

My enmeshment with with my family is quite clear in my dreams. Specifically around the house I grew up in. That is where my emotional need lies. I miss that house. My hope is buy both of my grandparents homes, ( the one they living in now and the other they sold). It would be wonderful to have that house to bring the good memories. Every part of that house I have memorized. Through my dreams,  I go through each room and remember being a child there. I remember just being so happy in that house. My childhood before the age of 8 was pretty incredible. The sad thing is I don’t remember it. I want to go back. I want to go back. I want to go back.

Emotionally, I need to rebuild and reconstruct those memories in my mind. My hope is to fully connect with that house in my dreams. Maybe one day have the courage to go into the house once again. That’s what I truly want, to go into that house. Go into the back yard. To sit under the tree in the backyard. To sit outside of the back door. To look through my old bedroom window. To lay on the floor. To look at the bathroom and my grandparents old room. My memories, I want them back. My life I want it back. My family, I want it back, but not the fable that my family tried to create.

As a black woman, it would be great to have a mother, grandmother, or aunt from my family care about me and help me out with becoming a woman in this world. To help me understand how to be a woman. To understand my history. To appreciate myself. Possibly one day, teach me how to be an ( adoptive or foster mother).

How do I do this without my family? How do I live when I am without my family? I am living now so the answer is just to exist. To relax. My goal is to find home. My grandparents live so close to me, my mother, and uncle. They live so close, yet they feel like a distant memory. Each morning I wake up confused and lost. I want to go home. I want to be embraced by my family. I want to be welcomed with open arms. I want more than a memory of my old life. I want more.

 

Good Night, Good luck.