Family has never been an easy subject for me.
That being said, recently my dad and I have started to re-build our relationship after a four year hiatus.
I have been so happy to re-connect with him, process and forgive the pain and wounding from our past, to begin from a clean slate.
One of the most difficult things I sometimes discuss with my dad is my mother.
Up to this point, I haven’t spoken of her often (just briefly in some of my content) because the journey I have had to go through to heal her abuse has been the most difficult thing I have ever been through.
You have probably read about my story, and you know I have suffered from an eating disorder and made it to the other side — what I don’t talk about is the root of what caused my eating disorder — my narcissistic mother.
They go hand-in-hand.
As much as I have been wanting to open up about what I have been through and how I got to where I am, I have been scared. My mom has threatened to sue me multiple times if I tell my story (a common fear tactic used by abusers to keep their victims quiet and one I have had to process in order to feel safe).
(I have no-contact with her, and have held very strict boundaries for the past four years since I left treatment for my eating disorder.)
My healing journey is still in progress (and will always be), and sometimes I still struggle with accepting that there is more wounding from her that needs to be healed.
I’ve done a LOT of work on myself — and sometimes I just want it to be fucking over already.
It is very difficult to talk about, because most of the time when I tell people my story of my life growing up with my mom, they don’t alway believe that my story is real.
“Your life sounds like a Lifetime movie!” they say.
And they don’t even know the half of it. Because they just can’t imagine it.
They just can’t grasp the fact that there are people on the planet that take pleasure in hurting their flesh and blood — their children.
The only other people who can understand what I went through with my mom are my sister and my dad, because they were both there.
So my dad is somewhat of a war buddy, someone who has scars similar to mine and can understand the pain and can support me on continuing to heal the wounds we got in battle.
Recently when I spoke to him, I began to cry as I shared with him my fears of turning 30 in December.
“I’m not where I should be in my life. I haven’t accomplished enough,” I cried to him.
I’m too old to be a model. Any possible acting gigs are out the window. I’m not skinny anymore, so now what? I should have made the 30 under 30 list. I’m not successful enough in my business yet. I’m not good enough. I’m not enough.
The voices were ringing so loudly in my ears, I couldn’t hear myself think. And guess who’s voice they are? My moms.
She was always so critical of me, judging every tiny thing I did wrong, taking out her highlighter and markers to tear me apart and circle all of my flaws.
She taught me to be extremely hard on myself with the highest of expectations that I could never reach, feeling like a failure for not accomplishing the impossible, and to punish myself for ‘being a piece of shit’.
Somehow I had landed almost three decades into my life, feelig like I had accomplished nothing (or barely anything) — none of which is really true.
[ Reminder to myself: I’m the woman who battled my way out of anorexia, moved 1500 miles away from my toxic family, started a new life entirely on my own and created a business from scratch helping other women who have struggled like myself. ]
But, this feeling is something that many Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers and other women of abuse face.
Parts (or for me – most) of our lives have been lost to fighting a mental and emotional war with a family member who is very, very sick.
And we often develop unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with our environment and the internal damage caused by the trauma of the abuse (hence my eating disorder).
I think of all the time I spent fighting her wars that could never be won, just trying to survive long enough to get out — praying that I would find a window to crawl out of.
And then once I finally got out, I would question my own strength wondering if I was strong enough to do it — this thing called Life.
“You’ll never make it in the world without me,” she would tell me on the regular, “so don’t even try.”
Every day is a new day for me to tell myself I can do it (I even have those words tattooed on the inside of my left wrist – for this very reason).
But it’s not easy. When you hear your parent tell you that “you’re a piece of shit” enough times, you begin to believe it.
So I was pouring my heart out to my dad, once again feeling grief for the time I have lost — the healthy relationships I never got to have without her involvement, the teenage years I was never able to experience because she was constantly tracking me, the privacy I was never given because she always went through my stuff and read my journals.
My dream of attending the University of Oregon with a custom Journalism Major that never happened because she secretly planned a sabotage, afraid that I would become independent without her — manipulating every step of the way until the very last minute — past the deadline of other quality schools accepting applicants.
The funds that she stole from my account, the wedge she drove between my father and I with her lies and manipulation, the relationship with my sister I never got to experience because she kept her away from me.
The physical abuse (forcing me to swallow soap as a child, making me choose which spoon she would break on my butt, even when I was as tall as her, dragging me from room to room by my hair with many witnesses), the screaming, the controlling, the fear, the threats. And the list goes on…
My dad’s reply to me was simple
“Blake, everyone has their stuff. Everyone goes through something, we all have our junk. It’s what you do with it that counts. Gosh, Kernel Sanders didn’t make his Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe until he was 65!”
Hearing those words meant so much to me, after having such a challenging relationship with him in the past – he wants me to be successful and believes in me (a rare feeling from someone in my family).
All those stories my mom had told me about my dad, all the memories I had of a scary, terrible person — that just wasn’t him. This experience is a completely new feeling, the opening to a new world I never thought possible.
I realized in that moment, that he was right.
“You have your entire future ahead of you, Blake. Your entire life is standing right in front of you.”
Instead of looking back on the years I have lost, I get to focus on an entirely new frontier that I am embarking on as I enter a new decade of my life.
I am finally making my own choices and creating my life the way I want it.
Instead of being watched like a hawk, I get to feel safe and be free to spread my wings (though, make no mistake, she stalks me like crazy online — but it’s out of my control and won’t stop me now).
My mom stole the first 30 years of my life – but the next 60 are MINE and mine alone.
And then he said something else:
“You have to forgive her, Blake. Even if you just say it over and over again, ‘I forgive her, I forgive her, I forgive her — you’re not doing it for her, you’re doing it for you.“
He was right.
Holding onto my anger and pain has been one of the biggest causes of stress, anxiety and depression in my life.
I know it’s not easy to forgive, especially someone who has made my life a living hell for 25+ years (literally, I have been to hell and back, and let me tell you, it ain’t a place you go to after this life.)
But – I know that choosing to walk down the path of forgiveness is going to give me even more freedom than I ever imagined.
Now, I’m not saying I have forgiven her or will completely by tomorrow — what I am doing is opening up to the possibilities of what my life can be like after dropping this invisible baggage I’ve been carrying around for so many years.
And if there’s anything I’ve learned about forgiveness is that we can’t just jump straight to it.
Forgiveness is a layered process and requires us to go through our feelings, expressing them in a healthy way so we can then let them go.
I didn’t think I’d ever write about my dad — I didn’t think I would ever have a relationship with him again — but life is full of possibilities.
So if you’re reading this, remember, it’s never too late to start living the life you dream of.
I don’t care if you’re 15, 30, 45, 60, 80, younger or older.
Life is waiting for you to jump in and enjoy it.
And remember that forgiveness has nothing to do with the person you are forgiving – but everything to do with you.
Until next time,
Many hugs and much love,
PS – Do you want to learn my #1 tool that I use to deal with grief, triggers and the process of forgiving my mom and others? Check out my EFT Tapping Toolbox™ and learn how to Intuitively heal anything and everything that keeps you stuck and separate from the Freedom you desire.