Mother’s Day always creates such a barrage of mixed emotions for me. There was a lot of trauma, abuse, mental illness, and foolish decisions that marked my childhood. My mother was far from a perfect parent. Luckily, she does admit to that and seems to be really trying to be a better person now, but being around her always triggers so many memories, thoughts, and feelings – some good, some bad, some funny, and some tragic.
I think part of the issue is that my brain has a tough time seeing how she acts towards me now and reconciling it with memories of how my sister and I were treated while growing up. I do believe in forgiveness (within reason), and I do love my mother, but I doubt there will ever be a day in her company that doesn’t create confusion for me internally.
I write this post today to recognize those of us who struggle on Mother’s Day to even know how to feel…
Yesterday my husband and I traveled over to Indiana to meet my mom and her husband for Christmas dinner. We all decided to meet at a truckstop that is about halfway between us, so that neither of us would have to cook, clean up, or drive too far:
I genuinely had a good time and am glad I’ve been able to spend more time with them recently. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while, may remember that there has been a lot of water under the bridge between my mother and myself over things that happened when I was growing up. She made some huge mistakes, and as is often the case, my sister and I had to pay for many of those choices just as much as she did…maybe more in some cases.
She genuinely seems to be regretful and is trying to make things better between us, so although I am always going to be cautious and protective of myself, it feels good to be able to embrace forgiveness for my own peace of mind and well-being. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that what we went through was ok, or that the damage wasn’t done, but it does mean that it doesn’t have control of my life, my mind, or my heart anymore. I can move on.
I am somewhat a believer in the saying “When we know better, we do better”. Some of us take a long, long time to “know better”, but healing and wisdom are ours once we finally do face the truth.
When I joined Instagram a little while back, I originally started out trying to follow back everyone who followed me. My thinking was simple, if you are kind enough to support me, I want to support you. I still follow back many of my followers, but there are a couple kinds of profiles I have stopped following – those who ONLY post photos of themselves trying to look “cool” or “sexy”.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with trying to take an occasional photo of yourself in a funny “aren’t I so cool” pose, or showing off your sexy side…but when EVERY SINGLE PHOTO on your account is you in shiny sunglasses trying to look macho or “hot”, closeups of your thighs and butt, or your face pinched into pouty expressions, that just shouts fakeness to me.
I want to follow people who are real. I love following artists, other creative types, people who are passionate about their hobbies, inspiring people who are honest about their personal struggles, or people who share fun pics of their family, pets, and everyday activities. Am I the only one that has an aversion to the overly narcissistic, seemingly self-obsessed multitudes on social media?
Just like with my thoughts and feelings, my self image changes so wildly with my mood. A good example of this is my view of my looks and/or attractiveness. Most days I think I look average when I look in a mirror. I’m not delusional, thinking I am some kind of supermodel or show-stopping beauty, but I also don’t feel like I am a troll or a goblin.
Once in a while, when I am slightly or fully hypomanic, I look in the mirror and think I am beautiful. I will never be gorgeous in the artificial Hollywood kind of way, but when my mood is just right I can see a kind of classic or wholesome beauty in myself that I like.
But then there are days, like one I had recently, when I feel as if I am sitting in the rock bottom level of despair and gloom. On days like these, I may accidentally catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror (because I wouldn’t intentionally look), and upon viewing my reflection, I feel down to my very soul that I must be the ugliest thing in existence.
Bipolar and other mood disorders can skew our view of reality so much, sometimes I feel like I am living in different realities from day to day. Today isn’t too good, but it ain’t too bad either, so I guess average wins out again.
The following is a journal entry of random thoughts and feelings I wrote down one night when I couldn’t sleep. As you can probably tell, I wasn’t in the best mood when I wrote it:
“Lately I’ve been deeply struggling with so many dark thoughts. Not necessarily dark thoughts about myself, but about the world and humanity in general.
I feel like I have lost all sense of personal ethics and could do anything if pushed far enough. Lie. Steal. Kill. Betray. I don’t feel guilty about this though, because I think it is a universal human weakness. I’m not sure that ethics and morality even exist once you push a human being past rational thought.
One thought resounds through my consciousness, that much of humanity isn’t worth the breath that is wasted on them. The twisted side of me wants to see the world burn, even if I burn with it. I am often confronted with the very real possibility that the world would be better off if humans went extinct.”
*By the way, if you are struggling with feelings like these, BetterHelp offers some great advice about online therapy options!
Sometimes I’ve worried about being so open about my own mental illnesses and specifically, my struggles with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. There is a part of me that absolutely know that there are a few narrow-minded people who probably read my posts (if they even bother) and then feel superior or like there is something wrong with me because I have these struggles. Some of these people are even distantly related to me in one way or another. I can see them being gleefully smug, shaking their heads and thinking people like me make all this up for attention or just don’t want to be working members of society. I can hear the Fox News points they would reiterate right now.
So, knowing that is likely going on behind my back, why do I even bother? Because I want to be genuine and real. I want to be me. I want to be honest. I want to help others feel less alone. And I figure if those people mocking me weren’t too narcissistic or proud to seek help, a psychiatrist or psychologist would have a field day with them anyhow! After all, who is the worst person? The person that has real struggles and issues and admits to them and works on them, or the person who thinks they are better than everyone else and has to gossip behind other peoples’ backs to feel better about themselves?
What do you have to teach me? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Once I thought you did – you seemed so sophisticated and knowledgeable, but those were simply projections of the person you wished you could be. Inside you resides only a quivering emptiness. Every attempt to reach outside of yourself slowly sinks into the abyss, becoming forever lost within the caverns of what could have once been.
Now it is obvious it was never meant to be, and the time has come to move on. If only I could throw this endless, undying desire to be loved back in your face as you vacantly stare through me, always searching for your own reflection. I wish just once you could see only me. But even now, as I walk away, the only reflection mirrored in your eyes is yourself.