Grief, noticing, and hope

I’ve been feeling the grief I mentioned in the last post I wrote, so deeply lately. And it feels very much to do with not telling my mum how I’m doing, what I’m doing, all that I’m achieving, all that I’m healing. It feels a grief so painful that I usually end up lost and unable to sit with it. I end up scared and feeling too vulnerable. I need someone there to guide me through it. To help me grieve.

I just want to reach out to someone, to a mum, and tell them how I’m doing. The funny thing is, I don’t actually want to do it with my mum. I want to do it with a mum. It feels like a pain in my chest that hurts every time I realise I don’t do this. It’s there because I want to do it with my mum, but I think the grief has come – and is something I am able to hold – because part of me is realising I’m not going to be. This distance is essential and I think the more I realise that, the more the grief can come. And the more I realise how much this distance is bringing me – the way it’s enabling me to shape my identity and ultimately, to heal – I think the grief can come for this reason too.

I feel lost and abandoned, and hurting and open.

I feel full of grief but I feel full of love. I feel lost but I feel like I’m continually coming home, to the person I was always meant to – and going to – be.

I do feel a despite ache for things to be different. With my mum and my dad. With my

Witting about it feels safe. Thinking about it feels safe, because now I don’t over-think. I drop into the feeling and where it is lying in my body. I allow the grief to have a voice, and move. I think this is why it feels safe. I don’t get flashbacks because I am with the feeling, with my body, rather than with my mind. My mind is where the graphics, the images, are stored. My body is where the gold lies. Where the memories are stored in the place they can release from.

The place that love belongs, and the place that love and compassion can be found.

This has broken open a door in my healing process, I’m sure of it. Just what I’ve noticed in the last month, is something to go on. And so I hope that continues. I’m pretty sure it will, because I remember my therapist once telling me that mindfulness – mindfully feeling feelings – is like riding a horse (or a bike, i can’t remember which). Once you get the hang of it, you wondered how you ever lived without it or how you ever couldn’t do it before.

Mindfulness as a practise – meditation – has defo come in waves and ebbs and flows. But the practise of being mindful is different. That’s just been growing and growing the last year or so. And this way of feeling feelings in my body has been the theme of therapy for the last two years, but something that I’ve found hard to coin for myself out of therapy.

But it’s coming. Defo coming. In fact, I think it’s actually come. It’s here. It’s happening. I’m doing it, and I’m succeeding with it.

That’s pretty rad.

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The thing about this grief that’s here, is that I feel able to share it with others. I feel able to feel it when I’m with others and not always say something about it. Or I just need to say ‘I feel sad’ or ‘I feel alone’ or ‘I’m feeling a lot grief at the moment’, and that is often enough. I really notice my communication has become a lot clearer and from the heart.

I don’t need as many words as I had to, to say what I need to say, or to feel connected and supported. That’s beautiful and so so healing due to how lonely I have been feeling lately. That loneliness can be soothed with just one heartfelt connection rather than a few connections in which I’ve tried and tried to speak from a place I can be heard, but never ending my feeling really heard and seen, and ending up feeling more pain and more loneliness and isolation.

The trick is I also notice who I pick to connect with, to talk to, to open my heart to. This has been coming for a while, and still is growing – my ability to notice and nourish myself with people that notice and nourish me. And picking the people to talk to about whatever topic – knowing my crew, knowing my resource, and sticking with the guidelines, the boundaries, of each friendship. That used to always piss the stubborn part of me off, because I want someone to be there for the whole of me, and so I would step over these boundaries and into the limitless love area…but would rarely feel met and would generally feel raw and open for hours afterwards. And lost, too.

I think it’s the art of noticing. That’s the puppy in healing, it seems. Noticing, not attaching. Noticing, not describing. Noticing, not telling. Noticing not rejecting. Noticing, not missing. And noticing it all – the bits that piss me off, the bits that make me rage inside that are part of me or feelings I’m feeling, the parts of me that I just fucking wish weren’t there sometimes. The parts of me that hold so much pain it’s seemingly uncontrollable.

The parts of me that pretend to not need me, but so do.

It’s noticing it all with an open heart and a compassionate warmth towards myself and the world around me.

Noticing. Noticing. Noticing.

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Talking grief

Grief is a natural part of life, but it can hurt like a bitch. It can show up in so many different ways for each of us and every tear always brings healing, as it does with everything else. Sometimes it can hit you and bring your to your knees, other times it can simply sit gently with you throughout your days.
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This is what it looks like to me. I wonder what it looks like to you?

A Lack Gap

Today as I went for a jog walk in the cloudy British morning sun, I sat on a hill overlooking the city. It’s the perfect spot to feel away from all the city madness. Saying that though, the city I live in is more like a big town, and the neighbourhood I have moved to is more like a nice little English village. Still though, I need those spaces that just make you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. They are hard to find amongst the city streets, so instead I went for feeling like you’re sitting above the city. That works just as well, if not better sometimes.

Last night I spoke a lot with friends about my cartoons. For those of you who have been following this blog for a while, will have seen them evolve over the past few months. I’ve been loving it. And I have also been loving the bits of feedback to do something more with them. This has been going in, and not that I believe it, I have been trying to see that maybe people could benefit from them, or at least connect with seeing a comical doodle of something (negative thoughts or other stuff) that they battle with too.

As I sat on this hill, I just cried. I realised I so long for a mother or father, or any kind of family member, to share these Life Ideas with. Friends are amazing, but you want those people that know you inside out and you can bounce off any random little quirky idea or thought with. Someone, or some people, that have seen you evolve and develop and grow throughout your life, or the life of your idea. Take my cartoons, for example. I dream of having someone here alongside me as I step and trip and step some more, along whatever journey lies ahead with them. Friends do do that – they are amazing for this but in smidgen ways. You see each other once a week, or randomly speak on the phone, but it is different to having someone to voice all the little developments with. Does anyone else feel this too? That gap of having someone to share it all with?

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Maybe I just need a boyfriend.

That’d be nice. But that’s a whole other conversation. Watch this space. Although I’ve been watching it for a WHILE now…bloody ages in fact. And for the record, there’s not actually anything in this space to watch – just space!

Back to the longing. I feel like this kind of longing runs deeper than just that I’m OVER being single. It comes back to that lack of parental support. And it got me thinking…all my lack of sticking something out for long periods of time…all my doing a million things in my life when friends around me have stuck to a handful of specific things…all the travelling, exploring and adventuring…all the need to be doing something amazing, somewhere amazing…all the stuff that rises up emotionally, once I stay somewhere longer than a few months…it has just kept me moving, and has kept me from ‘settling down’ anywhere. For the record, I am still only 25 so I feel like that is what life is when you’re this age! Moving around and exploring: your twenties could not be a more perfect time to do this. I would not change it for the world because it has been what I’ve needed to do and hell, I have had the most incredible experiences, met the most brilliant people and done the most amazing things. But there has been a strong element of fear about stopping anywhere for long periods of time. I’ve still lived places for a year or so, but never with a long term view of being there. That’s totally fine: that is what being young is about. But there has been an underlying thread that I noticed in the recent year or so, that I felt like maybe I actually have been ‘running’ from something. I totally believe it’s okay to run away sometimes – screw all those theories that you shouldn’t run away. Sometimes you need a break, and so sometimes to run away is your only option. But there does come a time when things catch up and the running needs to come to a halt, or a steady gentle stroll, for a while.

This is what has happened to me. And in many many ways, it feels so exciting. To want to stay somewhere, to want to settle down for a bit, fills me with a buzz that I’ve not felt before. It makes me feel alive, just like other people get that buzz at the thought of heading off on their next adventure. It’s like the ‘buzz’ has swapped places: it used to be there in the latter scenario, and the thought of settling down made me nauseas and with dread the weight of a small car in my stomach. That nausea and dread float by from time to time, and maybe will always be gently nestled there because I know that exploring is such a deep part of my veins. I will type about this another day, but I really believe you can fuel this adventuring desire without moving about and travelling everywhere. You can find your adventures in your everyday life.

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Back to the running. Today it has just occurred to me that this running may have been because of this a gap in my heart. A Lack Gap. It’s a gap that’s been holding the pain, loss and grief of the lack of parenting or parental support in my life. I have been trying to fill this Lack Gap full with fun, adventure, socialising, love of others, passions…etc, until I hit a point where I couldn’t keep on going. This point I mention above, where you have to stop running. This point for me was overdosing. (Not recommended). For others it can be a more gentler breakdown, or for some, simply a big realisation that change needs to occur is enough. Whatever and however this point comes, what it brings with it is the need to address this Lack Gap in your life. Not in an ‘add-another-thing-to-your-to-do-list’ kind of way. But more in a, this is what happens kind of way. Without you knowing, just as life moves on its way, this Lack Gap seems to become gently filled. It just happens – don’t worry and stress about it. Just notice it.

Today, for the first time, I saw that maybe this pain of not belonging to anyone or anywhere, of not having having parents to say well done or to reassure or support me, of desperately trying to find someone who feels that way towards me (parent style), has been because of this Gap. This gap for me, feels fundamentally parent based. For others it might be different. I’d love to know.

Now, I see, this gap is slowly beginning to fill. Not fill with what I have always dreamt of and feel am lacking – parents, love and family support – but something even better and something even more important:

Self love.

That’s the biscuit. Anything else can take a hike when it comes to the ultimate most healing thing you can do for yourself. Love yourself. That’s it. Because the rest then follows. Obviously, sometimes it’s ‘easier said than done’ but I do really believe that this lies as the foundation for any healing or growth to take place. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, the self-love can be coming so subtly that changes start to occur, and then you begin to see that it is actually self love that you have to thank. And by self love, I mean yourself.

So maybe with this time of being able to, nervously, embrace settling down for a bit and letting whatever arise, arise, this little Lack Gap will slowly begin to fill with a love for myself that no parent or family member could ever give. Only something I can give myself.

Any of you notice how you try, or have tried, to fill a Lack Gap in your life?

Love.

That bit that’s missing

Mothers come in all shapes and sizes, with every personality possible.

We have all been blessed with one, whether they have been there for us or not, whether they have nurtured and loved, or neglected and abused, honoured and respected, or manipulated and disrespected, they have been there. Even if just to create us and bring us into the world.

The past week, as Christmas has been upon us and my lack of contact with my mother has been feeling ever-present, I have been aware of the pain of quite how alone I feel. And quite how painful that loneliness feels. But alongside this feeling comes the reassurance that in actual fact, no matter how much our mother is part of our lives, or how much they are not, we all have our own tie-ups or gaps of emptiness in our lives from our mum. I believe anyway. There is no perfect mother-daughter relationship out there. When you come from a traumatic and twisted relationship with your mother, it is easy to feel as though things are more painful for you compared to others, and the gaps of emptiness are in fact voids of oblivion that cannot see how could ever change. This might be true. But what I also know to definitely be true is that we ALL have our own issues and our own ways in which our mothers don’t meet us, and never have. In this past year of emotional chaos growth, I have begun to really value and take refuge in finding ways to work out that we are all the same. We are not alone in this crazy world of emotions and life. In our weird and wacky and unique ways, there is an element of us that is a running theme throughout all beings. I find it takes away, or at least softens, that isolation and desperation the feelings or experiences can trigger. And trigger quite spectacularly too. Whether these hurts with our mother have been healed, or whether they are still running rampant, the fact is that each and every one of us has had, or does have, beef with our parents.

To normalise this – to see that everyone has it to a certain extent, for me, makes this process a heck of a lot easier. Sure, it doesn’t take the trauma away. It doesn’t take all the years of neglect, intense three-pronged abuse and let-downs away, but it does make you see that you are not alone. It helps you see that an element of this is ‘normal’ life. I flippin’ hate that word, but by normal I mean we all have it. We all have ‘stuff’ with our mothers. Whether it doesn’t surface properly until we are 40 and in the midst of bringing up our own children, and our childhood begins to hit us hard in the face; or whether we begin to divulge it when we hit 18 and get-hell-out-of-home only to go and sit in a therapy chair and watch our life we thought was normal, unfold before us as QUITE THE OPPOSITE; or whether it hits the pretty common route of surfacing in our twenties as we make our way with finding our own identity and looking back on all the shit that went down as kids. And then coming out the other side, at each of these scenarios (and all the others I haven’t described), is a more balanced and understanding perspective of where your mother was coming from, and you have come from. Or so I’ve been told. At 25, who am I to talk?!

Going through the motions and emotions of hate, anger, frustration, let-down, neglect and a deep sadness for what was or what could have been, to then come out with a sense of peace and acceptance, or at least understanding, of them/ourselves/etc, is to me a healthy, and pretty bloody normal, process. At least I think so. We can’t just go from one extreme to the other. We need to live through the motions of feeling the pain of what was, and all the rest inbetween, to then come to a point where we can love what is.

Just last week my therapist said that, in all the years of her work, my mother wins the worst-mother-award. This coming from a therapist with years of experience, added impact to this statement. Despite all the shit that’s been, this broke my heart to hear. All I responded with was, “really?” Despite how atrocious she has been. Despite the serious and twisted manipulation. Despite the hate that was spat at me consistently and constantly from an early age, I still love her. So so much. And I always will. Sure, it feels more like the kind of love you might have for a child, due to the reversed roles in our relationship, but this love is very much there and always will be. At the moment I often hate her with a blinding rage too, but I see this as a great sign of health. As any therapist would tell you.I see that I am very much in the midst of that journey of emotions I describe above – slap bang in the middle of the uncovering, processing, and then healing, all that’s been. And this kind of anger has been buried for years, when it surfaces is one giant leap in healing. Provided it is released in a mindful way. Like 100 lengths in a swimming pool (I wish). Or an angry stomp up a hill (that’s is more like it). And so I seem to be spending my days

What this post is trying to get at, is the fact that we are all in the same boat. No matter how different our story, no matter how deep and isolating the pain feels, we all share the same thing – we all have these hurts and big gaps of empty, when it comes to our mothers/parents. Some are much bigger than others, but they are all in relation to what has been in our life. I really believe this. And it is something so easily forgotten, and rightly so. But know that it is true. As someone who has lived through severe trauma with my mother, I often feel desensitised to others descriptions of turmoils with their mum, quietly wondering what it would be like to ‘just have something like that’ going on with mine. But this soon passes and I realise that it really is all in relation. Just like we can never get that person to truly know, even know in a small way, what it is like to experience what we have experienced, they cannot ever get us to fully understand what it is like to experience what they experience. One thing we do share, is that at some point in our life, for some people it is/was hourly and for others it is/was yearly, our mothers have hurt us, have let us down, and have caused complete havoc in our lives. Again, one persons havoc is different to anothers, but whatever it is, and whichever scenario it is for you, just know that despite the fact we can never live a day through someone else’s eyes or get someone to live a day through ours, we can hold comfort in the fact that we are not alone in feeling all these feelings towards our mothers. They just vary in intensity or severity.

Within this bundle of emotions and memories stored that bring sorrow and pain about our mothers, there is also joy in there too. Because you cannot have one without the other. That is just how life works – you get both. Always. No matter how far away that joy feels, or how deep it is buried, it will be some there, I promise. Sometimes you just have to go hunting. No matter how much pain life brings, so much joy comes with it too. Maybe it wasn’t directly from our mothers. Maybe it was. But whatever it was or whenever it was, there will be joy running alongside these memories of let-downs or memories of trauma from our childhood. So when you’re thinking of the things that make you sad, make sure you try to think of that joy you experienced too. Even if it was with your friends or something totally unrelated to your mum, the fact is that during those days or moments you spent in pain or hurt with your mother, there will have been something in those days that brought sunshine and grins to your heart. And this is something to be grateful for. Because that is just how life works.

And lastly, this is why we have each other. Because, in my eyes, friends are what help fill those gaps of emptiness from our parents. We all have these gaps, be them big or small, where our parents are not there for us how we would love them to be, or at all. But that is what friends are for. Not to be parents, but to simply be there. To share the pain of the grief of what is missing parental wise. To share the joy in your life when you don’t have a parent to turn to, to share it with. To be there alongside you in the rough and the smooth, and to know you for you. No matter how good or rough our relationship is with our folks, we all need friends in life. To me, friends are family and so I often feel as though I need my friends more than they need me, but this is okay. Because they will need me in different ways, as each of our needs are so unique. It is just getting to know our needs and getting to trust them too.

Share and talk with those around you and know that however different your story is to theirs, there will always be somewhere you can meet. And it doesn’t tend to be that far away.

Love.

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Grief: its ten tonne weight

Like a buttered bit of bread, that drops and lands face first on the floor, There grief sits with its aching muscles, pain, and more. My body feels empty of any fuel. It feels as though my limbs have been … Continue reading