Self abandonment is something I am all too familiar with. We go way back, abandonment and me. For most of my life, I would put myself, needs, wants and desires on the back burner. It may even be safe to say that rarely would I be found on the stove. Growing up in a dys~fuck~tional home of dis~ease and addiction, I often had to find my own means of support, both emotionally and spiritually.
When I was two, my daddy had left us (me) and by the time I was seven, I knew mom had succumbed to her allergy when she became a full-blown alcoholic. Albeit still loving, slowly but surely her dis~ease robbed me of yet another parent. I typically found other means of seeking out comfort that I lacked now from both a mother and a father. A whole new description of abandonment developed.
I quickly learned I had to start growing up and fast. Try as I may to remain a child that I deserved to be, it was clear that I had to start learning to take care of my own needs. That meant that at ten, I babysat for extra cash so no one could tell me what I could or could not spend my money on. At that young age, I didn’t need materialistic things. The bonus was that it got me out of the house and temporarily away from the madness. Mom was a good provider in that our basics needs were met. She wasn’t incapable of sustaining employment. In fact, she was “highly functional” in her state of sickness and successful as a state employee. I did know she loved me, because she told me often.
So where was the lack and neglect? When she remarried I was seven and suddenly all her focus and attention was on this new man she expected to be my replacement daddy. Soon after is when the mental and verbal abuse started. The sting of abandonment, now enhanced. Mom cowered down to this man and never protected me. Her choice was evident who was more important and the burdens of an adult were now placed on this child. Suddenly I was now expected to carry them and take care of mom’s emotional state. I witnessed the demise of this lovely lady whom I once proudly called mom.
By the time I was a mid~teenager, I had been working for nearly six years and had the maturity of a young adult. I had responsibilities placed on me that were never age appropriate, but I lived up to them to the best of my abilities. This is the precise period of my life where I began to lose touch with my own self. It was as though I was forced to abandon my own thoughts, for fear of the ridicule and demeaning attacks that came with making mistakes. The message sent, received and delivered was, YOU are not good enough. Do better and MAYBE you will be loved, but only if you earn it.
Well, fuck. Order the party hats, hang the streamers, blow up the balloons and bring the popcorn, welcome to my lifelong pity party! What a party it was. I remember it starting at about age seventeen and lasting until maybe six years ago. No wonder I am exhausted keeping up those appearances that served me well for a very long time.
Let me back up quite a bit to my late teens where my own dys~fuck~tional relationship patterns were born. As I sought outside myself, seeking in others for my emotional fill-up needs, I was always led to the most unavailable sources because that was all I knew. I was drawn to and gave a free pass to those who would make me work harder for their love and attention. It was the system I witnessed that my mom created and we lived in. It seemed to work for her, it was familiar to me, so how was I to know any better? I continued to endure the verbal abuse and eventually even some physical. By now the pity party was in full force. Remembering often the message, “YOU are not good enough, try harder, be more, then maybe you will be worthy of love”. It was ingrained on my brain. Dance little princess dance.
Alright, I managed to escape my LTR from high school, but only because the next white knight flattered me enough to lure me away from my current abuser. The blood hadn’t even dried on the back of my head that went through the wall when I announced it was over and I was onto the next chapter. More balloons, streamers and cake please. This one is the one I can count on. He rescued me after all. He must love me for me. So he drinks more than I am comfortable with, smokes pot and snorts some white shit “once in a while”. I would never partake in that nor was it allowed at my pity party. However, I was determined that this guy was all I dreamed of and he would not be like the others because he would change for me. I AM that special and powerful, no matter what the old tapes playing in the background keep repeating. That is actually comical as I think of it now.
In the very beginning of this relationship I had lost my mom to a tragic, fatal car accident. I was twenty-two and devastated. She was my mom and despite everything, I loved her. By the mercy and grace of God, whom I had no relationship with, we had been mended with paperclips and scotch tape, but at least we “liked” each other again. That was my first introduction to detachment with love and acceptance. She was a beautiful soul who was caught in the cruelty of a horrific dis~ease. I stopped blaming and forgave her.
A year passed and I married this man after committing myself to complete self abandonment and promises to live in denial of the truth. Eighteen years and three amazing sons later, I filed for divorce after a tumultuous relationship with this alcoholic. The skills I took away from that chunk of my life were those on survival I had fine tuned. I became an expert in control, manipulation, managing, shaming, blaming, overcompensation, perfectionism, and oh yes, the party continued as prescribed by me. Except now, I began taking hostages in order for the celebration to carry on. Since all of my needs failed to be filled by any and all outside sources, my master skills were now serving me well.
The next one was on deck prior to the soon to be ex husband vacating the premises. This new man was simultaneously going through the same motions as I was. A match made in heaven, yes? Oh Lord I prayed this one was my final hero and savior here on earth. By this time I had come to terms with a lot of emotional pain and effects from a lifetime of abuse and neglect. Not only from those who were supposed to love me, but myself included. If I could not treat myself with the love and dignity I deserve and cherish all the blessings bestowed upon me, how could I be worthy of receiving more?
It was at this moment in my life I had found the rooms of recovery. A saving grace that welcomed me with open arms. I stumbled in, broken and shattered, depleted of all my self-worth, value and love. An empty shell that had been emptied over the course of nearly thirty years at that point. Pieces of me now strewn about, so scattered and left behind, hopeless and full of despair, how would I ever be put back together again? Angry that I was in this place where dys~fuck~tion forced me through the iron doors. Confused and frustrated why I was the one in need of changing and fixing. After all, I was not the one with an addiction problem that fucked up the lives of everyone they touched. Or so it seemed.
The newest man I was sure to be Heaven sent, scolded me and said he would not be able to see me as long as that husband was still in the picture and the house. That was enough incentive to light the fire. A few short, but long agonizing weeks later, he was out of the house I was happy to report. Done. Now will you love and cherish me? Five months later, we too were done. Meanwhile, I continued to show up in “those rooms” I was so resentful to have to be in. Little did I know, the message was seeping in my stubborn skull. It leaked in with every word I heard as it sounded like my own story. For every ounce of wisdom I allowed to creep in, I cried a bucket of tears. I knew where I belonged and I never left.
The balloons slowly deflated, streamers and hats disappeared one by one and the candles were finally blown out. A new party was in the works as resentments lessened and gratitude slowly replaced it. At some point I told my pride and ego to take a hike as they were no longer of service to me. I was becoming empowered and equipped as my faith grew and was humbled by the ESH of others. I came in because of them, the sick ones, I stayed for me, the real sick one. That was nearly eleven years ago. I have been asked why do you still go there? My answer is always, my life and emotional sobriety depend upon it.
As I dove head first into this new discovery that was teaching me a better way to live and love. I finally reached a point in my life that I began to make sense to me. I could admit I was a walking wounded, but not beyond repair and certainly worth every bit of work I willingly put into it. I found hope and courage, but more importantly, I established the two most important relationships I never thought possible. One with myself and the other with the God of my understanding.
In February of 2011, my beautiful, once filled with life twenty year old nephew died of a heroin overdose. He was as close to me as my own three sons. I thought my heart would never recover. I was again devastated by another loss. I hit my knees like never before. Lord, how much more are You going to remove from my life? I cannot fucking take one more tragedy. Enough, I yelled to the sky! It was in that depletion from my heartbreak that as I became angry at God, I drew closer to Him. I quit fighting and resisting His comfort and chose to walk with Him. I became devoted and fully trusted Him for the very first time. At that moment I obediently turned my will and my life over to Him. I was saved.
By this time I had suffered enough pain and loss that I was not willing to open my heart for another to come in and risk damaging the repairs that the Lord had mended. I continued to seek Him out in everything and relied on Him solely. My life began to change. The healing was coming from the inside out. I poured myself into the spiritual world of recovery and found balance for the first time in my life. Relationships were also being healed and brought to fruition because I have learned to cultivate them with God’s blessings and my offerings. I prayed for His wisdom and guidance for my life. Then one day shortly after losing my nephew, there was a new brokenness presented in my life. It came in the form of a human man.
I was blind to his presence in the early days as I was in turmoil and grief. My blinders were on, heart guarded and I remained obedient as I waited on the Lord to keep filling me up. At some point, this new man very subtly found his way through a crack in my heart. For the very first time in my new life, I didn’t seek out a man to fill my emptiness. I talked to God often about His intentions and will for me. Did You send this man for a reason? The answers revealed were, yes and I was to pour into him the abundance of love the Lord now fills me with because He has promised me an everlasting supply.
Over the course of our friendship and relationship, I have never given up on the man who God instructed me to encourage, support, lift up and love. He has taken my brokenness from me and undone what has harmed me. He has restored my heart a multitude of times. He never gave up on me and always waited patiently for my cooperation. Because of Him, I am more complete than I ever thought possible. My Heavenly Father made me perfect in His image and it is in Him that I seek forgiveness for disparaging His creation of me. I am the blessed one, granted new mercy and grace every day.
tbc (to be continued)…