Emancipation

When asked – in a circle at a recent PD day at work – “what is a change you (or someone you know) made for the better”, my response vastly contrasted others.

Some mentioned changes they made in high school when they were in danger or not graduating and that fear really set a fire under their asses. Some were inspired to be unlike their aggressively alcoholic fathers. Some had been faced with ruinous health concerns that ended up whipping them into shape – literally. Some just woke up one day and decided to turn their shit around – how miraculous.

It was my turn to speak and the entire time I was listening to these stories I was engaging in an gut tug-o-war. My stomach was flipping, why was I so nervous!? Should I share something related to the stories of my fellows or should I be honest? Ain’t nobody got time to listen to h o n e s t. But then again, what’s there to lose? They can take or leave it… right? RIGHT?! eeek.

By now thirty seconds have gone by and the person next to me reaches for the talking piece – for this specific circle it’s a fluffy wolf plushie – assuming I’m having a mental breakdown and they’re just going to move along now… But no, I come to.

“About two months ago, I cut my mother out of my life. Some people might frown upon this, scoff, even, because how and why the hell would anyone ever diss their mom? But when confronted with fiery eyes, a pounding heart, and strangling hands, I knew we were at the point of no return. There are some things that I’ve managed to do in my lifetime that are even astonishing for me. But this, THIS, might be the biggest change I’ve decided on and so far, it’s been the most liberating thing I’ve done. Now, I’ve gotta figure myself out!”

Silence.

Now, I readily passed on the wolf as I held back the water welling in my eyes.

The next person spoke, but I didn’t listen. It was like tunnel vision – but for.my.ears? It wasn’t until someone else caught my attention, brought me back to reality. She spoke, “Much like Angela, I cut my father out of my life. The day he was physically abusive with my toddler nephew, I realized that he didn’t recognize limits. It’s never okay to put hands on anyone, ever, for any reason, just no, but to see him do that, even in the company of the whole family… it was just too real. From then on, I’ve been helping my immediate family to safety. I haven’t spoken to him since.” She came to me later in the day, “thank you for sharing your experience, it made me comfortable enough to share mine.”

Humbled.

Now, I didn’t hold back the tears. They weren’t sad. Rather, In Solidarity.img_1474

Lately, I’ve been interacting with better people and it is the most shocking, most illuminating, most warming feeling. This is what love feels like. This is what kindness is. A different language. Smiles that aren’t forced. Compliments that come from a place of sincerity. Body language that doesn’t demonstrate flight or fight. Gazed that are conscious. Attention that is deliberate. oh my word, what is this?! 

Don’t get me wrong, of course I think of her sometimes. I hope she’s at least okay. Hope that the house is still intact. Hope that her partner isn’t drinking more than he already was. I wish her well, and I wash my hands.

Smoke
Banned
Transformation
Tiny
Rearrange
Transmogrify
Eerie
Giant
Bridge
Bludgeon
Sincere

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14 Replies to “Emancipation”

  1. Damned straight. All the hugs you want, too!

    I haven’t been in the same physical location as my mother in 5 years (I still talk with her on the phone, sometimes, because I feel guilty though) and I feel so much better. I also think I’m becoming a better mother to my own kids for cutting her out. I just wish I had had the good sense to do it earlier, like when I was your age, LOL.

    You rock, Angela, and I wish you every happiness and every success in your life.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. hah thank you, I’m flattered.
        Honestly. it wasn’t hard to cut her off. It was more like that ultimatum act of rebellion that I’d been aching to perform for ages but was too chicken to do so. We had it coming, so in the moment it seemed impulsive but in retrospect it was inevitable. I’m glad to have such a supportive partner. Really made the decision less stressful than it could have been.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A truly great piece – and it is wonderful you work somewhere that allows you to be this real. Although both of my parents were remarkable in many ways and lived full lives, I wish I had the wherewithal to do what you have done. I would have had to do it in early adolescence (and that never would have happened – I was nowhere near strong enough) but wishes being what they are, I wish it anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “If” is always a little “iffy,” if you get my drift BUT if my dad hadn’t been an alcoholic and had taken more responsibility for his behavior towards me, which often deteriorated into the kind of self-indulgent, maudlin nonsense that drunks do better than anyone else, I think I would have grown up with more confidence in myself – and self-confidence is a hard thing to get back once its been stripped away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely agree on the “iffy-ness” but one can imagine some clear cut differences as a result of a change in circumstances. Alcoholism is so malignant and it’s terrible that soooo many people deal with it and inherently effect everyone around them. It’s like, what’s a child supposed to do about it other than just deal with it?! That’s not fair and it’s the kind of shit we carry for the rest of our lives. Leaving us with the work of making sense of it however possible. Self-confidence is something that is so badly delicate; taint it one too many times and it can be gone forever.
      I’m sorry for your pain and I sincerely hope things get better.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I have – mostly but I’m old now. I wish I had the confidence earlier in life when it would have done some good. What you said about the alcoholic parent’s attitude is exactly correct though. “I’m drinking now, you grow up and learn boundaries and positive behaviors on your own. I’m too busy being irresponsible” sorta sums it up. Happily, I didn’t get the addictive personality just the soul-crushing.

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  4. Beautifully written! Every journey starts somewhere, and I wish you well on it. I think we all, to some extent, experience that moment of “attention that is deliberate” you described when connecting with new people, and for some it’s more profound than others. But that’s the funny thing about humans – experiences unique to us will resonate with others, even if the circumstances aren’t the same, and I’m glad you found that 🙂 I mean that phrase alone has resonated with me, and I haven’t gone through anything close to what you have.

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    1. Thank you! It warms my heart to know that something I wrote resonated with you, despite our contrasting lives. No one ever has the same story to tell, but often we find ourselves in the stories even still. That’s the charm in doing this.
      Glad to have you here

      Liked by 1 person

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