Fear of Being Not Needed

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I sat across from my now 11 1/2 year old kiddo the other day and she asked me about a struggle I have obviously been grappling with for many months. As she completed a task that I once did for her, she wondered about my fears in the loss. Of course it’s part wonderful, like magic in that some time has been returned that was once lost in the abyss of bathtime and food preparation. But, I am not needed in the same way I once was.

I have never been the mother of the year type. I sometimes lack in the “appropriateness” department and my honest and very open relationship with my daughter puts worried looks on even the Not-moms. My sweet husband would like to curb my language and gives me this look when she repeats a story I have obviously said in her presence….that she remembers word FOR WORD. Perhaps what I lack in rich emotional love I make up for in unprecedented style.

But so it goes. The world changes and I gotta get on the bandwagon of different or I will be left behind. And although I believe there will always be a way to make relationship with my daughter, I really worry even more that I will not always be able to create and re-create a relationship with my truth. Do you ever fear that all the truth will run out? I fear all the words will be used up and there will be no more to say. Not in the scarcity kind of way- like the Meltons and Brown’s of the world have used up all the spaces to speak the truth- but more like, it has been said and now there is nowhere else to go.

It is so difficult to tell our truth in words. And I have done that most of my adult life. I have journals beginning from the age of ten and I have started, wrote and continued to write stories in conjunction with those journals for the past decade along with writing here for the past four and half years. And so I wonder, when all is forgiven, when you tell the world your truth and you make those honest attempts without pushing it into people’s faces, is it over?

I so often feel I have so much more to give, like I literally bleed all over the place with words and feelings and truthyness. But I sometimes ache for a little gratitude and someone to take notice of it. That can already be difficult in my line of work because what is transformed is completely behind closed doors. Sometimes I am left unsure if what I do as a therapist even has the kind of impact on those around me I wish for. I wonder sometimes if all the silent things I do in the name of humility even get noticed. I then begin to wonder if I am just a selfish bratty truth-teller, who cannot get it their way and should really stop acting like a spoiled bitch who has nothing- when in fact, I have so much.

The fear of not being needed is complicated. Showing up and paying attention to my life and yours comes with heaps of joy and consequences. I grow. You grow. Things change. And the words that are so hard to tell get written and I feel free. But are they still needed? Will I ever cross the threshold to a larger path that takes me to a place that wants to hear what I have to say? I grossly deny chasing the platitudes and yet, truth telling gets lonely sometimes. I think its why I hang onto people like Brené and Glennon, as if we are friends-it feels like they speak my complicated and sometimes garbled language.

Today, I am afraid all the truth in me has been used up. I know in part it’s ridiculous, but what happens when we are really not needed any longer? Does anyone pay any attention and does it really matter if anyone is paying attention? Cuz the humility monger in me reminds me that if I am not humble then I am just another yackity girl blabbering away about how I need shiny lights on me…… And that, friend’s, is flattering to No One.

So whether I like it or not- I sit slathered in IT. I have buttered myself into this corner and I am unsure of how to clean the grease away. I always tell a client that my goal is that ‘I am no longer needed.’ Although true, how about a sprinkle of irony coming from a girl who fears at 41 years old becoming obsolete?

For The Love of Grammie

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TODAY IS THE DAY!!! We get to pick up my beautiful Lyra after three weeks of having the time of her life in California with my family. During week two, I was talking to her and I was ready for her to come home and she apparently could hear it in my voice…..and she says with a Long SIGH, “Well, I AM having a REALLY Good time MOM.” Mine has never been one for separation anxiety dramatics. It was always me crying while walking away. Early on, she would sometimes forget to even say, ‘BYE’ until I demanded it! And when she learned about flying on her own…..She was excited. I had to promise her I wouldn’t hold my breath the entire time after she proceeded to lecture me on the pains of death when a body turns blue. I swear this child is going to try putting jet propulsion on the back of her car when she is 16 just to see if it “will go a little faster.”

But the best part has been hearing the stories of my family who is spending time with her. She spent two weeks with my parents who we traveled all over the west coast as a kid. I also grew up going places with my grandma and now Lyra gets to go places with her. I told her that Gram took me to Disneyland and she said, “Yes, but she was much younger.”

So, I share a wonderful note I received just before her return……Let’s all imagine some sweet soul helped my Gram schlep all that junk to the San Francisco air port special services. Oh, and the kid too.

FROM GRAMMIE: 

It has been a whirlwind week to say the least. Lyra loves Rain Forrest Cafe and after two days of that I would like to shoot all those animals. The food is not that good and not that bad. You are paying for all the add on stuff. I am hoping not to see the place until she comes back. So funny, she ate breakfast and had a late lunch, so eating was not on my top list. She even had a doughnut at 6 PM! I told her she needed to take an early bath tonight as I am pooped. She gets all teary and say but, “I have not had dinner”. So funny.Right now she is at the table with her favorites. Salami, crackers, cheese, oranges, carrots and a few grapes. With milk.

Brings back the memories of Disneyland and Coralie. I fed everyone before going to Coralie’s thinking that was dinner but it wasn’t to them. Coralie did not cook so I did not want anyone to be hungry but you would have thought they had been starved and that was not my intention. I have heard about it for years. Honestly Alicia she has not been starved, limited diet, her choice, but it was nothing she did not want. She was even good about trying things at Vicki’s. I am so proud of her.

I can see myself now trying to haul this packed duffle bag, Hello Kitty suitcase, a backpack and a tired kid into the airport Saturday morning. I want you both to think about this picture and have a good laugh. Me, I won’t be laughing. I hope someone takes pity on me and gives me a hand. I want them to think ‘that poor old lady’ and ‘why is she trying to carry all that stuff?’ A Mom who knows her Mother can’t resist shopping, so she sent the GIANT duffle bag and I am the one doing the schlepping, LOL :).

I boxed up the computer and took it to Apple. That thing gets heavier every time. He cleaned it up and reset it and right now it seems to be working. My phone is still flashing that white screen so I took it in and there is something wrong inside the sliding movement. I will hang in there with it until it dies or I do.  (REALLY GRAM?)

I took her across the Golden Gate Bridge and she just can’t get over it is painted burnt orange. It wasn’t the size, or thought about of how it was completed, or where it was going to –Just the color. Children are truly a work of art and simplicity.

Love to my favorite girls, Mom and Gram

 

BIG LOVE TO MY GRAM and TO MY PARENTS

for loving my daughter the way we love OUR LYRA

LIVE.OUT. LOUD.

Mother of Dragons For Mother’s Day

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I think of myself as a rather thoughtful and kind person. Yes, I am well aware that my sassiness might blind you to these facts from time to time…..but they do exist. However, when it comes to Mother’s Day, I have been stuck in a SUCK tunnel.

Before becoming a mother I am sure I made plates of burnt toast and construction paper cards, followed by cheese ball Mother’s Day Cards (I dunno, ask my mother). Then I brought home my beautiful baby girl on Mother’s Day nine years ago and looked forward to breakfast in bed and gifts I (usually) requested from my BFF’s jewelry store. If we are not uniquely acquainted, everyone should have a BFF that is a jewelry designer….Just Sayin’.

But over this past year, something has sprouted within me and has been vining around my pretty little heart. The weeks leading up to this morning have led me to want to send cards and messages to people because they are “like” Mothers to me (Say it in Your Best Valley Girl Voice). So I declare an end to this notion that a mother is someone who either participates in the making of or adopting of a human baby! I mean, REALLY, what a tragic and small definition to the notion of Nurturing!

Or Worse, you don’t get to celebrate anymore because she is gone. Or EVEN worser, what do we do when we are not in a place to nurture our relationship with our Mother? That phone call…and you KNOW that phone call I am talking about, is just pure torture, if it even happens at all.

So, besides all of us who have had the unique messy pleasure of being a parent…..my heart sprouts around so many others places.

I think about my BFF who lost her Mother at a very young age. I know I will never meet her, but I know every time I look at her, I see her Mother alive in her eyes. How can that kind of pang of loss ever go away? Especially when I am told her Mother was one awesome Bad-Ass? She never got to meet my BFF’s children and they are simply amazing.

I think about my friend who is Mother to all of New Orleans in the Louisiana Restaurant Association. She supports her community with passionate love through food. Some mothers I know can barely make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She makes your mouth water every time you see her post FB pictures supporting a new local restaurant or local high school students growing their culinary skills. Not to mention a great lover of her sweet fur baby!

I smile on my friend who has nurtured her love of her fur baby with diabetes for many years. Her sweet love of a dog is coming towards the end of her life and she continues to give her the kind of grace and dignity I would expect us to give any human being.

I consider my daughter’s god parents who would become her guardians if something tragic were to happen to my spouse and I. They do not have human children, but are already Mothering the person she will become; helping shape the woman that we shall see in the future. I am more than confident they are Mothers and they are Men!

I ponder on my friend who has lost one of her children. She celebrates with another child and grandchildren and I am certain it is beautiful, but it will not be without loss. How do you get through the day and not consider that?

And there are my friends who are in dark spots with their Mothers….It can happen to all of us so don’t act like it can’t be you if it hasn’t been you. Mother’s Day doesn’t wait for us to work out the bats in our head so it can certainly pass by and create a painful moment that is hard for everyone to overcome.

And how about my friend who is Mother to every sexual assault survivor she encounters in the emergency room? In those moments, she loves and nurtures them, creating a safe environment, sometimes Mothering the entire family through their darkest hour.

And what about those waiting to Mother? I watch some of my friends and clients be in relationship with my daughter and think, ‘DAMN! Now THAT Girl has Got IT!’ (what ever the hell IT is). You see that and know a kid needs to be whipped up, adopted or just magically appear for all I care because that person loves with their whole heart and Well, Whew! I just want someone other than my kiddo to share in that kind of Joy!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear ya critics; “This is Suppose To Be My Day! Why are You being so ALL-Inclusivey and Stuff? I want MY DAY!” Believe me, this princess wants her day too. And I can tell ya, making me get all dressed up and “taking me” out to brunch is NOT what you are going to do on my day. I will take an order of yoga pants, no bra and breakfast in bed, Thank you.

But, I just got to say, something has really shifted in my sassy little heart. Perhaps I have watched too many episodes of Game of Thrones and I have come to believe we are all capable of being Mother of Dragons. If Daenerys Targaryen can rule a wild, mythical, fire-breathing beast, who’s to say what a Mother really is anyway? I say, if you can grow and nurture it, then you can call yourself Mother.

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My Messy, Beautiful Life- Me And My Masscott

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I understand there are some things we want to protect our children from for as long as we can. But for me, my daughter does not get to know who I am without knowing my story. If I practice authenticity, even though sometimes with haphazard grace, the most important person I can practice with – is my daughter Lyra. I am an adult trauma survivor. I was sexually abused for many years as a child, some occurred while I was eight, the same age as my beloved Lyra is now. I have written about this part of me for many years now. How could I share it with the world and not her?

We began talking about this as early as three years old. Understanding what I do, both personally and professionally as a marriage and family therapist, it is never too young to start “The Talk.” I am imagining some parents right now are screaming and wanting to pull hair out (mainly mine) at the thought of starting such a squeamish conversation so early. We had the ‘okay touch, not okay touch’ first, attempting to demonstrate how her body belonged to her and no one, including me, was allowed to touch, squeeze or hug without her permission. I had hints of regret when she would gladly explain to other people how she was in charge of her body (with her hand on her hip), but I had to shrug and smile while other adults rolled their eyes at me.

Later came the first sex talk at the age of six. We got a new kitty and he was going to be neutered. She asked one night while taking a bath (a place where many deep conversations take place, NOT the dinner table -Apparently) what ‘neutered’ meant and I blurted out, “He gets his balls cut off!” Oh, I was rightfully chastised for this because by this time we had many conversations about using proper language. As usual, when you decide to not put your kiddo in a bubble like some trauma survivors do, you have a few mishaps with the sex information being shared . This time, she readily informed all her friends at school and later told me proudly that one of her friends already knew the details of how babies were made. Yes, I did a face palm because how could I forget the power of knowledge? But as the years have raced on, her wise use of knowledge astonishes me.

One aspect of a trauma survivors recovery often entails giving back. So, this year marks the second Annual Phoenix Rising 5k, held in my little rural town, Georgia. When I began private practice, I had in my mind that I wanted a way to support sexual assault survivors in my own community. By raising funds and publicly modeling for all trauma survivors that they are not alone, I could continue to support others in shedding away the shame that every trauma survivor carries. My lovely Lyra decided after I explained to her what happened to me (in as much of an age appropriate way as I could) and why we were hosting this race, that she was going to be the Phoenix, calling herself ‘The Race Mascot.’ In a way that she does not even understand yet, she IS the mascot. Together, we have ended an intergenerational cycle of sexual violence and she is what I have birthed out of the ashes of my strength and hope.

But, like all good truth tellers, especially the Phoenix kind, she didn’t let it end there. Within weeks of the first race, she presented me with a drawing on her favorite colored paper- purple. I beamed!

“I Want to Change the World by Bieing a Masscott at a Race.”

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I inquired and the first thing she said was,“Ms. Student Teacher asked us to do this project in art with her. She wanted us to draw a picture of how we felt we could change the world.”
She went on, “I wanted to write that I could change the world by supporting rape survivors, but when I asked her how to spell the word rape, Ms. Student Teacher shushed me and said I couldn’t write that.”

Okay…a little internal dialogue:

“WHAT- THE WHAT! S.E.R.I.O.U.S.L.Y. Student teacher lady, you did what to my daughter???!!! Shushed HER??!!!!” …..then that was immediately followed by, “Oh, poor-poor student teacher, poor 20-something-who-has-no-clue what in the hell to do with such a difficult, complicated and taboo topic (especially with a seven year old in second grade).

I took a deep breath. Then another….. AND Another. Geez, why didn’t I just stick with the bubble? I then asked, “How did you decide this instead?” She flippantly said, “Well, since SHE had a problem with it, I decided to write what I was doing AT the race.”

Yes, we had a lengthy discussion about how it was inappropriate for her teacher to not explain herself and followed that up with the usual, ‘we’re not your typical parents’ bit, but that her teacher was right in this case, ‘Cuz, remember when I let you know that you may not want to tell all your friends about what sex is? Well, this is kind of part of that.’ I explained that we needed to let other parents decide when they were going to talk about certain things and it wasn’t our place to make Ms. Student Teacher have a lecture on rape to her second grade class.

Are you dying inside or jumping with joy? I always wonder what parents would think of my decisions around this part of my relationship with my daughter. I would be lying if I said that I don’t worry or don’t care and I did especially care about my daughters teacher and poor-poor Ms. Student Teacher ‘s feelings. After a few days, I followed up with an email to her teacher explaining what I understood to have occurred and offered understanding and support, but continued to stand my ground around what I believed my daughter deserved in that moment. Not for one HOT MINUTE did I believe Ms. Student Teacher was prepared for such a conversation with a seven year old, but perhaps my daughter helped for future sake.

All I know is that when I made the decision to host this race, I wanted to give back to my community. I wanted to search within and continue to push myself to grow and change in ways I felt were not happening by staying small. What I did not consider was that when I committed to Phoenix Rising, my family did.

For all the struggle that modeling authenticity has been with my daughter, one thing I know for sure: She believes that she is changing the world. And from my point of view, She Already Has. 

LIVE.OUT.LOUD.

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This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us:  http://momastery.com/messy-beautiful-warrior-friends! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy,Beautiful Life, just released in paperback: http://momastery.com/carry-on-warrior!

 P.S. In case you were wondering….Yes, We are wearing Tutus. So Fabulous!