A Daughter, A Mom

First a daughter. Needing her to rub my head. The smell of her finger tips, cigarette smoke residue lingers to this day in my mind. The yellowing of her finger nails. Yet, the comfort they provided, the simple act of rubbing my head is not like any other. Resting on the floor or rather restless on the floor beside her bed full of panic and anxiety, her voice would soothe me. She would make it all okay. Running off the bus on school days, impatiently telling her about my day’s events. She was my go-to for it all. Sharing the excitement when I kissed a boy for the first time. Crying uncontrollably when I drank too much and forgot much of the night. She sat in the chair next to my bed and made me feel okay. My dependence on her became more of an enmeshment that I did not realize until my late thirties. And the hindsight I suddenly watched in high definition became uncomfortable. Facing the negativity, the toxic-ness of our relationship. Anger and sadness filled spaces that once held attachment. But…this is not the whole picture. She carried me when I would call incessantly from college crying, depressed, full of angst. With all her downfalls, like us all, she is my mom.

As a mom with a son about to embark on his college journey, I am faced with the challenges she must have faced with me. D and I share many qualities, some which include anxiety, stubbornness, and an underlying fear. Today, anxiety has all but left my being. But that was not always the case. In fact, when I was D’s age, my panic and anxiety was at its peak.  I am steadily preparing myself on many levels for what the near future is about to bring for D, for me. I’ve found openly talking about some of these college “struggles” has enlightened me in ways never expected.

A message from D the other night thanking me “for being one of the best parents” carried a weight, a much needed weight of hope. Being a Mom was, is, and always will be my dream job. My purpose. But oh so so very hard. At all stages. So I am grateful this Mother’s Day Weekend for my mom for doing the best she knew how to do for me and my brother. And I am grateful for the moments I have to be a mom myself. Everyday I work on being the best I know how to be.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms!

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Could it be?

The other day while driving I had one of those ah-ha moments. It was about being happy. Some time ago I wrote about my mom always telling me I was unhappy when I was younger. To this day, she continues to reference me as an unhappy child and how she tried so hard to “help.” My initial emotional reaction to this is anger. Even thinking about it boils my blood. But I suddenly realized it was HER feeling that she was placing on me. Growing up I couldn’t’ see this. I only knew how jumbled I felt inside. Anxiety, stress, anger, frustration, a feeling of being trapped and wanting to escape. I remember these feelings quite well. In fact I remember very clearly my first panic attack at 10 years old. And I remember clearly how for the next nearly 30 years after, I was intertwined with my mother’s emotions. If she answered the phone upset when I called, that only played out for me personally the rest of the day. Her thoughts quite honestly became mine. Although I never saw this.

I.Never.Saw.This.

Until quite literally almost 6 years ago I woke up. That’s what it felt like – waking up. And suddenly I saw so much and thought HOLY SHIT! It was this time I separated from my now ex-husband while also distancing myself from my mother. And it was this time that my panic and anxiety all but disappeared. How ironic.

To only validate my recent ah-ha moment, my mom sent me a text a few days ago. It read:
“I really cannot wait for Prince Charming to walk into your life even tho it’s not of that much importance to you. If that day happens I’ll be beyond happy.”

So even though she acknowledges it’s not as important to me, it’s what she wants. It’s what will make HER happy. At 43 years old, she still tells me I need to wear my hair a certain way, to put more makeup on. She even told me recently she’ll pay for a make-over. These are things SHE wants me to do. And yet, I feel fine the way I am. I have worked so hard on my emotional, psychological, and physical state. And I am proud of this work. I think I do a pretty damn good job.

The smile I wear walking through the halls at work (that yes, realistically aren’t every day because nothing is perfect), the peace I feel while running, the positive energy I share at yoga, the laughs I have with friends, the excitement I feel when watching T play hockey, the proud feeling when D receives another college acceptance…all of this and then some is my happy.

MY happy.

Marathon Training

It’s almost here. My second marathon. Honestly, never thought I’d be here. Actually, never thought I’d be at the first marathon. Which by the way, I did approach mostly with confidence..but left a bit broken and defeated, crossing the finish line much later than anticipated. However, with reflection, realized in hindsight what an incredible day it had been. So this year….it’s about “setting the record straight.”

And then came my 20 mile run last Saturday. Ugh. I was perfect, in the groove until about mile 16. The humidity was high, the temperature and dew point combined was not ideal. I had fuel, water, change of socks, support (D!). But I faded. And it brought back a bit of fear and anxiety – I don’t want to feel this again the day of the race as I reach these impending miles. I will have a chance to run the 20 miles again and have some tweaks to my nutrition that I intend on making. However, it’s my mindset, my Self that I know I need to tweak just as much if not more. And this is the real challenge. Ironically, it’s the long runs I have come to really enjoy. I have a comfortable pace, my breathing is so rhythmic, my feet supported by what feels like clouds (I LOVE my Brooks!), and I’m in my mind for a longer time. Just me. The shorter runs have become a bit more intimidating as I feel I need to push a bit harder, my breathing is more pressed, my mind a bit scattered. I suppose I feel less in control?

And maybe that’s a metaphor for my life right now. As I feel overwhelmed, pushed, compressed in a way, definitely scattered and certainly on many levels alone, I move quickly but not in a way that benefits my mind..or my body. When I take pause, literal deep breaths, read, practice yoga..when I am moving at a comfortable, yet conscious pace, I am more at peace.

What is it that makes you more at peace? Gives you peace? Fosters peace inside of you?

Steps

Are you overcome with joy? With anger? With guilt? Resentment? Happiness? Anxiety? Panic? Contentment? Gratitude? What is it that holds you so tightly? Is it strangling your very being or is it giving you much needed breath? Does it enable you to grow or does it stifle your dreams? Does it look you in the face and lie or does it hold truth in all its spoken and unspoken words?

On the contrary, maybe you have overcome hurt, pain, illness. Maybe you have overcome a life full of shadows, emptiness, and dead-ends. Maybe you have overcome being weak. Maybe you have softened the hard edges of your untrusting self. But maybe you are still waiting to overcome that day when your knees buckled beneath you.

All of the emotions are a kaleidoscope creating colors so bright that some offend your very eyes while others offer a soothing break. With each emotion know you are taking steps. Steps. Some may be forward and some backward. But it’s movement. And such is better than standing still.

Faith

This is long overdue. An examination of my marathon. Writing, with my left hand, about each mile. What I was feeling, thinking, seeing. I did it. And now I am having a hard time with the “results.” At the advice of my yoga teacher, I named the race. Faith. Each mile I needed to somehow relate to faith. Mentally working through each mile may just give me my life lesson she had said.

And this is where I am struggling. It was mile 16 I saw my my sister-in-law, nieces, T, my dad, and my mom. My interaction was mostly with my mom however. T and my dad where standing back and up on some stairs. I wasn’t feeling very strong at this point or at least not as strong as I had in training. And from here it went downhill. After I saw my family, it went downhill. And honestly, I think it was more after I saw my mom specifically. Ugh. I became weaker. More in my head. Weak. Beaten. Defeated. Up until seeing my mom she had been sending me supportive texts. When I saw her, she was proud. She yelled out as I ran off “How are you feeling?” and T just happened to snap a picture the moment I turned to respond. The look on my face says it all.

So why after this point, the point where I should have felt an extra boost, did I lose energy?  I can still feel what it felt like now – the lack of energy. It was a gross feeling. It was so hard to keep moving. And truly I didn’t know if I could. I became my weak, old, self full of anxiety and panic. And that turns into a downward spiral. My brother was running also. He had been a few miles behind me. I called him to say I didn’t think I could do it. He told me to keep going, he’d catch up with me. I kept looking back, looking for him. He never caught up. But, the fact that he tried so hard still warms my heart. He was there for me.

I crossed the finish line that day. Not even close to the time I had trained for and expected. It wasn’t until hours later, I could reflect back on the race and notice the many gifts.

So faith. Faith in myself. In my strength. In my abilities. Trust in who I am. And probably most importantly, feeling confident in doing what I know is right…for me. Not doubting. Yes, faith.