Saturday, November 1, 2014

Kintsugi - The art of fixing broken pottery with gold.

At some point in your life, no matter what has happened to you, you have to make a choice. The choice is to either wallow in the past and accept it as your fate, or to fight against it, to put the pieces back together and rise up. To heal yourself.

Throughout my life, I've been beaten down and, at the bottom of it all, had to learn that the only person who could or would ever save me, was me. It started with my physically, mentally, and verbally abusive mother, and morphed and changed and moved through a rapist, some really screwed up dating relationships, several stalkers, and finally ended for me a few years ago when I decided that I would never be a victim again.

My mother is a really interesting person. She spent years breaking me down, telling me how ugly, stupid, clumsy, unloveable, etc. that I am, being unpredictably physically violent, and treating my sisters and I very differently. Whereas I was the scapegoat for pretty much everything, they mostly got off unscathed and were treated... better. It's not like they didn't feel any of the effects of her insanity, it was just really lop-sided. Let's just say that one of us got books about ponies and one of us got an actual pony, one of us got books about princesses, and one of us got the shopping trips to buy a princess' wardrobe, etc.

The other half of this coin though was that my mother was quick to take all the credit for anything good any of us did. For me, I was always great in school. I made top grades, I was selected for special academic programs, I was creative and I cared about other kids... even if I had a hard time figuring out the right ways to show it. (When you get beaten till you're hysterical and can't breathe anymore, and then told, "I love you so much and I only do this to make you a better person" in the same half hour, it's pretty confusing for most people, let alone a small child.) My mother would praise me publicly and act like the mother of the year, while completely destroying me privately. I was terrified of her and I wanted to please her more than anything. Being in the light of her praise in public was amazing, hitting the depths of her depravity in private was hell.

After I left home, being used to this roller-coaster, thinking that it was what love looked like, led me to seek out other people who would do the same things to me, and I found them. Over and over again. I had to relive that childhood story until I finally figured out the lesson. As a kid, I couldn't escape. As an adult, I can. As an adult, I can plan, and work, and change, and most importantly, get out. I can protect the people I love from these kinds of unhealthy situations, and I do not have to perpetuate it. I can teach my child how to avoid these situations as well. So he can start out ahead and not spend years wandering the proverbial desert of victimhood.

I used to think that whatever I deserved would come to me, whether that was praise or punishment, and that I had no control over it. When I realized that if I wanted something other than what I had or was getting, I could ask for it and work for it and make it happen and not only that I could, but that I should and really even had to, that was an amazing moment.

Something that helps me stay on track is that I've gone back through and changed the stories I tell myself about my past. When I was younger I tried to figure out what I could've done to deserve what my mother did to me. Now, I know that it wasn't my fault. My mother is just a sick person. I'm not her victim anymore, I have pity for her and I have realized that she has a mental illness that she won't treat because it's fooled her into thinking that every single person around her is wrong instead of realizing that when everyone closest to you says the same thing about you it probably means it's at least partially true. She doesn't have a relationship with me or my son because I don't want or have to subject us to her abuse. Just because someone is related to you by blood doesn't necessarily mean you owe them something. Family is as family does.

In the past, I looked at being a victim of rape as someone stealing my agency and breaking my soul. Now, I look at it as a fact, it was a thing that happened and it's over now, I came away from it and healed, I am a stronger person now, and where first, I only survived and I had anxiety and nightmares and things, now I thrive and live, and know that I am much much more than this thing that happened to me.

As a result of my past, I am teaching my son how to be a good man and good person. I'm teaching him how to care for the people around him and to respect boundaries and be empathetic. As a result of my past, I take action through volunteering and donating in my community to help other people find their way out of victimhood to survivorship and to living and thriving.

In the past, I looked at my bad relationships and thought, 'why do I get all the screwed up people'? Now, I know, that there was a lot I needed to change about myself so that I could have a healthy relationship, and now that I've done the work and keep doing the work, I have one. A healthy relationship is about two people recognizing their flaws and their strengths and coming together to combine those things to make a whole that is greater than the sum. We heal each other and challenge each other, and work together in a way that I've never experienced before. It's amazing what you can do once you decide not to hold onto outdated ideas of who you are and you become willing to change and grow. Once you pick up your broken pieces and seal them together with gold.