When you break free from the conditioning of those around you, you're going to appear very strange to them. It can't be another way unless they, too, are awakening.
My transformation two decades ago left my family confused. At the time I was a new mother and all I knew was that I didn't want Paige to go through what I did growing up (click here to see what that entailed). So in an effort to break the cycle of addiction, abuse and dysfunction, I went through the fire with my family for years doing things they had never done themselves and did not understand, and things I had never seen modelled anywhere else.
But my soul knew what it was doing, despite how much I was criticized by them.
Besides, I knew something they didn't: what was good for me.
My inner vision was much larger than my external circumstances, and I was certain I could create something extraordinary for Paige and I, even if I didn't know how yet. I just did my best each step of the way and dismissed my family's opinions as best as I could because I didn't care about the advice of those who had not achieved what I was about to.
Up until my late teens, I believed that what I was raised with was "normal" because I had little to compare to. After being hospitalized at 17 for depression and suicidal thoughts though, an awakening was underway.
In the hospital I was set up with a psychiatrist who cared very little about anything I was saying and seemed only to be there to push medications. When I declined them, stating that I thought there might actually be something deeper to why I might be feeling so badly (how wise for a young lady who was still oblivious to the hell she had been enduring for years), the doctor said if I don't take meds, I would be miserable for the rest of my life. Yes, he actually said that because he was a twit. Although I had nothing to go by other than my inner knowing, I told him I didn't agree.
I think meds work great for certain people, and I think they can be inhibitors for others. We all need to do what feels right to us at any given point in our journey. At that time though, I just knew I was willing to do the work necessary to face whatever it was inside me that made me hurt like this, and meds were not going to be part of that process. Neither was that doctor. He was fired shortly after our session for sexual misconduct with young boys. Horrible.
Long story short: my mom didn't speak to me for days after the school called her to tell her where I was and why (my school counsellor admitted me), so there I was in the hospital and no one knew about it except my mom and step-dad who were not acknowledging this fact. It sucked.
When my mom finally did come around, it was the first time she told me that she also suffered from depression. I know you might think that would have been obvious to me after years of living with her, but it wasn't obvious in a family where no one talked about what was really going on. I thought it was normal for a person to drink as much as my step-dad did. Normal for parents to have separate bedrooms. Normal for mom to always be in bed when she wasn't at work. Normal to not be happy or feel connected. Normal to feel alone and sad and bad about myself.
But once Paige was born and I began some wonderful counselling with a woman/mentor who is still in my life 2 decades later, I started to learn about dysfunction and addiction and abuse and I was blown away that there were books written on these things I had experienced. That there were names for it, too! My world began to expand and once I realized the truth of what was going on around me and that I could choose another way, I made the decision to leave home when my girl was a few months old. I didn't want Paige immersed in the world that I knew so well, and now that I knew better, I did better.
My mother did not receive this news very well. I won't go into how she chose to react (albeit unconsciously) because it was quite unkind, but I do understand what was at the root of it. Fear. She was losing the one thing that mattered the most to her: me.
Even if her own pain and self-hatred made it impossible for her to love me in a healthy way, my mom loved me just the same. And she was watching her "little girl" grow wings that would inevitably surpass her. I was out-growing my mother because I wanted health and she was still choosing dysfunction.
Things would never be the same.
My mom thought I had been brain-washed by my counsellor (true story), because she could no longer make sense of who I was. She saw my attempts to set boundaries as complete defiance and selfishness. Her mind could not comprehend the things I would talk about because it really was a language she didn't understand since it was a path she had yet to walk. My new language of healing was not compatible with the toxic environment I was raised in.
We split like oil and water.
Standing up to my mother scared me more than anything else in the world. It never became easier over time either, FYI. But it was necessary if I was to remain authentic and not allow myself to be treated badly, so I did what I needed to do and dealt with the consequences.
The first time I had enough courage to speak my truth to her, I told my mom that if she continued to mistreat me when I came for visits, I would no longer visit. I was shaking as I said these words because she had taught me all my life to be silent. End result: she did not speak to me for 6 months. 6 MONTHS! Which happened to go right through her birthday, Christmas, Paige's birthday and my birthday. Not only that, at the time she lived just two streets up from us.
But that was my mother. And I think she just didn't know how to deal with my new sense of empowerment. It was threatening to her because she was so bound by her own tortured upbringing that peace, happiness and freedom eluded her. My increasing inner strength also meant things couldn't go on as usual. And she was using her old tricks to get what she wanted. She was using silence as an attempt to make me question myself and go back to being the daughter she raised me to be: compliant, never-questioning, and caring about her needs and feelings more than my own.
I spent my entire youth trying to make her happy.
I never succeeded.
If you ever wonder how I got so strong, it's because I was forced to deal with my mother. I had to grow strong and move beyond her attempts to control and belittle me if I was to be free. That was not a one-time or even a 20 time exercise. That was an every interaction workout. She drained me more than any other person in the world ever did and ever would because her negativity towards me was so intense, but I'm sure we've all experienced someone like that along our path. Lucky you, if you haven't!
Over the years I became very skilled at speaking my truth and standing up for myself, and over time my mother became better at not completely shutting me out when I did. I know she did her very best to remain in my life and stretched herself accordingly. Similarly, I made allowances for her that I would never have made for another, simply because she was my mother. Had she been anyone else, she would have been cut out of my life many years before she passed.
So if you're at the beginning or in the midst of your own awakening, please don't lose heart when those around you start to act shady or can't handle it. They need to deal with this change their own way and it honestly has nothing to do with you even if they are directing their frustration towards you. They are merely demonstrating their current limits but it doesn't mean those limits won't expand over time.
Change is scary. No one truly loves it. Most avoid it and do whatever they can to get things back to the way they were. That's natural. That's human. But eventually we move beyond that initial response and adapt to what's before us. If we don't, then we're in trouble.
So just keep going and show them how it's done.
One day those around you might need tips on how to fly.
All my love,
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