I had a note from someone who read my Me Too post on Wednesday. She wrote to tell me that what I had written had brought her to her knees. “I cried and cried,” they wrote. “And when the tears were done, I realized I was so done with dragging myself through the pain of what he’d done. I didn’t need to carry the shame and blame another inch. They were bringing me down. I needed to set myself free so I could get up.”
Someone else wrote to ask me when was I going to stop writing about that journey. “Why do women keep having to dredge up how badly men treated them?” they asked.
My eldest daughter and I are working on our presentation for Circles of Hope on November 8. We are presenting the mother/daughter journey of our experience of having gone through an abusive relationship, of having lost everything, only to find ourselves on the other side of shame, blame, fear, anger, sadness, sorrow, bitterness and regret. On the other side is only Love.
As we talk and write together about ‘those days’, about the immediate aftermath and the journey through healing, I am constantly reminding myself to breathe.
That was then. This is now.
There is no part of that story that can hurt me today, because the only place that story lives is within memory. And memories can’t hurt me, unless I hold onto them and claim their shadow as my truth. Yet, when I hear my daughter speak of her experiences during those dark days, there are moments when I want to hide from the truth. To defend against what happened. At times, I can feel like such a victim of my own past, I want to hold up a sign for all the world to see and know the truth, “I am a Bad Mother. I am a Bad. Bad. Mother.”
And I breathe. That was then. This is now.
Telling that story, together, is not easy. When I tell the story on my own, I control the narrative. I can paint the picture of my brokenness how I want it to appear.
Yet, telling this story together is so powerful. Freeing. Loving.
I cannot change my daughters’ journey through those dark days. I can change how I respond to her telling of those events.
I can let go of blaming and shaming myself and hold space for her voice to be heard, to be known and claimed. Her story is not my story, and though we went through that journey together, we went through it from different angles. And in those angles, the light broke and refracted differently for each of us.
Telling the story together allows ‘the whole’ of what happened to come into view so that we can share, not just the journey into darkness, but our shared experiences of growing through it in to Love today.
Years ago, I fell into the arms of an abuser. It almost killed me.
It also hurt my daughters. It broke their hearts. Caused them enormous pain and angst.
In telling this story together, we are standing for truth. For hope. For love.
When I step out from the shadow of wanting to take away her experience and replace it with something more palatable, less harsh, I know and see and live in the truth. I am not a Bad Mother. I am a mother doing her best to be real, to be strong, to live her life with integrity, grace, kindness and above all, in Love.
When I look at the amazing women both my daughters have grown into being, I know that, regardless of and because of, what happened then, in the now today, we are very blessed.
As I said to my daughter the other night as we talked about our presentation, “The gift is that we are as strong as we are today, because of what we went through together.”
Why is it important we tell our stories, again and again, from every angle?
Because our stories are real, and in their reality and our sharing, together we grow stronger.