Between one mighty harvest moon and an autumn equinox, between elation and the depths of gurgling sadness, between the bones on the right side of my ribcage and those on my left, the past week has been an indescribably insightful one. With the belly of luminescent fullness weaving it’s magic through the dark of night and since, some kind of readiness started to awake within, as often it does when time is ripe, to speak about a lifetime of oppression. To be precise, my internalised oppression born from trying to win the love and affection of my father.
There is much more to write than I feel able to today but I want to start cracking this open so for now I offer two bookends. They are posts I wrote on Parenting by Connection page, one from Monday, the other today, as this fearless dawning started to unfold.
I saw for many years my father’s desperate need to be loved. I saw all that he would weald in his power to make this happen. I saw all that he would abandon should he not receive what he needed to survive. Today I recognised his yearning was less of love, though I’m sure deep beneath a small young child within was calling and calling for this, but instead I saw how far he would reach in his power to be idolised. To be seen God-like. All powerful. All commanding. And this power would often involve either his wallet, his fists or his neglect.
Alone, none of these are savourable. Together they are completely unpalatable. Yet, tragically, challenging upon any of these would only fuel his power-play and I learned as a child to swallow this toxic conditioning; to be a good girl for daddy or to be a bad, bad one upon who’s shoulder sits all the blame. And of course, sadly, too sadly, this internalised positing continued throughout most of my adulthood and has remained until now a shameful secret that I buried so deeply for, being a true-to-form daddy’s girl, I knew he literally couldn’t bare my truth.
So here’s how I started to unpick some of the beast that has been this self-oppression:
Monday 19th September ~
Today has been bloody challenging. I’ve been exhausted, tearful and my son struck me in my chest in anger and frustration at school pick up. The pain hurt for hours after and I found it very hard ground to work from emotionally to reconnect with him and bring him back home whilst maintaining my boundary, it’s OK to be angry but not OK to hit, whilst still trying to bring myself back home from the shock at the same time.
It felt especially tough as many realisations dawned on me last week in relation to the domestic violence I experienced as a child. And then, that magic thing started to happen when a great many connections started to unfold. Some from a few years back from my fear of my mother’s verbal violence as well as her desire for me to mother her and then how myself, siblings and mother all steered around my dad and his volatility and how so much was unspoken and through fear permitted, to how in the school playground my immediate response was to go find an adult to help me when my son hurt me to sort it out, like an uncertain and fearful child myself to hearing my son’s aching and internalised frustration from school that no one cares for him when his friends left him out from a game and my realisation that he was in his keenest place of hurting, of abandonment and feeling unheard and unrecognised at school until he saw me and felt safe enough to let it out but so disconnected it came from the hardest place of all. And I recalled him in the incubator as a newborn and pictured his desperate yearning and calling for our touch as we sat beside him and I didn’t know now what I could have said to him to speak to our little bundled that I just birthed days beforehand. All I wanted to do was have him in my arms. And OH!
I almost started a downward tiredness spiral of critical thinking. I struggled to reconnect with him still at bedtime. I fretted about how he hit me, his strength, my pain and how I felt immobilised to be firm in my boundary assertion. And then I saw the same pattern, a similar weakness of voice, that for long I believed it his disconnecting and then saw, Whoah!, this is the same disempowered voice I tried to use with my parents when I tried to say no to their abuse of power.
Excuse my outpouring dear folk, but I started out by wanting to write a bright spot, that despite a very turbulent day I didn’t venture down a self-critical pathway but instead commended myself for how much I did succeed in today in deepening my understanding and marvelled at this journey in peaceful conscious parenting over the last four years that despite the incredible revelations that unfold, chinking away at what’s mine, my parents, our children’s, finding more and more clean-ness in my relating I still feel each time I’m just at the tip of the iceberg and the crazy amazing beauty about this is – I love find myself here each time knowing there is so much more excavating to come!
Saturday 24th September ~
The beauty of this whole malarky is realising a) when kids are upset, kicking off, beating their drum telling the world to F** right off, we know that beneath all of their explosions are a bagful, or possibly several, of big, big feelings that for them in those moments feel too big, big, big and overwhelming to hold and it is our privilege as their care-givers to help them learn to sit with the gnarly gnarlyness so when the angst hits again there will be a little seed within, slowly germinating over time, that says internally, It’s OK kiddo, I got this.
And the second big lovely dawning numero b) is that when we ourselves kick off, F***ing and blinding and trying to push the whole world away or simply Shut.It.Out, we too are in that irksome I really don’t want to sit here space, just the same as our kiddos but with a few more years of should’s swallowed down to make the whole thing just a bit more difficult to unfold. That is until we starting working with our inner-loving parent….
And so after an immensely giddy week of revelations, post my post from earlier in the week. Of seeing how I posited myself in relation to my son’s outbursts so similarly to how I did with my dad in his volatile states when I was a child; namely in fear and anxiety and how, from last year when I experienced an inner-hand shoot directly out from my heart to say Dad, NO MORE! to swimming this week with a deeper energetic shift of a simple yet resoundingly loud NO; No more malevolent oppression. No more back-handed manipulation. No more will I allow myself to see myself in your shadow. No. This effortless NO came with majestic spirals of insight and loving, into past chasms of hurt and pain and acceptance.
Yes, this week I was mighty, mighty giddy and HELLUVA productive with my magical inner alignment and release.
And then this morning I yelled. At our son who was in the midst of tidying his room which went on for seemingly hours as he placed one tiny Lego brick in the box followed by 15 minutes of playing with the rest. The pattern continued and I ignited. And spoke to him from a wretched, firing place from which, at once, I felt overwhelmed with guilt. And then, a smoother background gear shifted to more peace.
Soph, this guilt if just another layer, just another distraction to the overwhelm you feel in your heart right now. Do not run away from this. Tend to it. Attend to it. Lest you spend the rest of the day at odds with yourself and your beloveds around.
This isn’t time to dig, my inner-kindness spoke, This is time to rev up your self-love. Love in to the sadness and the grief from your childhood that have been arising. Love-in to that pain. And remember, you are exhausted my darling girl, from your mania of this week and a lifetime of internalised oppression. Rest now so you can continue to tread well.
And so to now. I’ve relished in the connections that have been overspilling in my mind this week and the monkey-crazy energy that they have spurned but now it’s time to be still, and just as I would with our son or daughter when they are in that too unbearable to hold space, I need your help Mama, this morning I will do the same for me.
Amen to the wisdom hidden in the beasts that we know as triggers. Amen to learning to love what is.
My mother’s rage took the spotlight for many years. She carried an eternal fury that I always shuddered from, climbing deep inside myself to hide from. It was loud and terrifying and devoured her energy. She was never free from her hate, it consumed her being and us as a family and she took it with her to her grave. And was forever, I believe, a useful tool for my father. His darkness, with a different density and corruption of integrity, could go unobserved as my mother screamed in the foreground, her pain visceral, taking up all the attention, whilst he quietly held tight his reigns, his fists, his purse.
She was the one I was most scared of. But I realise now, my father’s pain and his abuse of power in order not to feel any of it, sits more deeply in my blood than I had ever realised before. His terror was less overt. More discreet. The kind you don’t low you’re in until it’s too hard to find your way out.
Repression. Oppression. Expression. It is indeed time for the latter. Finally.
Image: Ludwig Knaus