I began by journaling about this twice a week, only allowing myself thirty minute
increments to do so. This type of writing can bring up deeply suppressed emotions, and it did, leaving me feeling raw and naked. It was emotionally and physically draining, and it left me somewhat weak after the severe and deep sobbing it evoked.
Please do not try this type of writing without a professional on standby to guide you.
Afterwards, I would practice some type of self-care that was healing for me: I would meditate, go for a walk, do some breath work, etc. Later, I would come back to my writing to “reframe” how I would acknowledge and accept what I had discovered through my journaling. Also, I would plan how would I navigate it all in the future now that I had purged it. I was all cleaned out…for now. When it comes up again in the future, I now have an awareness of how I want to think, and how I want to respond to my emotions and feelings in a healthier way.
In this space, I found deep empathy, compassion, and love for my mother, and I have been able to find the peace that I deserve, and to energetically offer my mother the compassion that she deserves. I could not understand any of this as a child or as an unwell adolescent and adult myself. But, I totally get it now. Mental illness is in our DNA, and is exacerbated by our environment and lack of self-care, all of which were present in my life, in my parents’ lives, and in their parents’ lives. It is familial and generational. I believe that I have been able to break the chain using my own awareness, self regulation, trauma work, ongoing support, and most definitely my spiritual solutions and self-care practices. Whenever I begin to feel the anxiety creep in, I go back to read my “reframing” of the experiences written in my journal, I implement more extensive self care practices and spiritual solutions to support any dys-regulation that I may be experiencing. I have discovered forgiveness of my parents who just did not have the tools or awareness that I have been blessed to be given and to experience, as well as my deep faith.
I do the same when I do my expressive writing to Steve. I surrender it all. It is a part of my past. I mindfully choose not to bring it into my present or project it into my future. As A Course In Miracles states, “I can choose peace rather than this.” And I do. In that peace, I am able to connect with my feelings of love and acceptance toward my parents , Steve, and for myself.
I have realized that my mom did the best that she could with what she
knew at the time, and the tools she had (basically none), and that she
lived with paralyzing fear and anxiety throughout her life.
I love my mother, and I miss her every day.
It was the same with my father. He did the best that he could with what
he knew, and with the tools that he had at the time. Also none. And he
lived with alcohol use disorder and a severe and persistent mental illness.
He numbed his pain with alcohol and other addictions.
I love my father. I think of him every day.
And it is the same for Steve. He did the best that he could with what he
knew in navigating our relationship with the tools that he had at the time.
I love Steve and think of him every day.
And it is the same for me. I did the best that I could in navigating all
of these challenges and relationships with what I knew and with the tools
that I had at the time.
I love the woman that I have become, and I take care of me every day.”