Day 34 Healing Work (Cruel, Ugly Judgment)
Today I helped my older child finalize a very difficult decision. I won't specify what it was, since I want to keep a wide boundary around anything involving my children. They are the most important part of my life and I don't want to share their stories without their permission. Suffice to say the decision finalized today related to education; and is, in no way, similar to any of the topics we explore in this community. But, finalizing the decision enlightened something about my healing process. So, I am writing about it.
After we took the last step in a lengthy process (I filled out and signed a form) I discussed with my child how very proud I am. I explained why. This child spent years working up to this point, overcoming much adversity, and was steadfast throughout. I made sure to say I am proud and explain the reasons. It was incredibly important to me to be clear and to be understood. "I am proud of you for your courage. You faced a great deal of adversity over these last four years and you kept going without hesitation or complaint, you kept going. Do you know how courageous you are? I want to you know I am very proud of you."
After the conversation was over I sat down to catch up with everyone here and then the moment with my child hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt nauseous, dizzy, my muscles cramped in my neck and shoulders. I had a reaction very much like when I am working through something in my healing process.
What in the world?!
I had to run to the bathroom and - excuse me for saying this - empty my guts (I won't specify out of which end). Bleh.
I sat in my office for about 30 minutes recuperating and wondering why that conversation was so powerful for me. What did it trigger? [And, why do so many moments end up being triggers, anyway? Sheesh!]
I think it was two things. First, it was hearing . . . and feeling . . . the intensity of my love for my child. These are feelings I think my mom is incapable of experiencing. There were probably many moments like this for me when I needed to feel that pride and hear that message of encouragement, not to mention moments when I needed to be protected and comforted. Normally I don't have any emotions surrounding my lack of nurturing. But, I very much felt it tonight. I think I felt a tinge of grief.
Was that grief? Does grief feel like being punched in the gut? Does it feel like a fast-moving roller coaster of a million emotions at once?
I never really did the whole grieving part of the process. I haven't had whatever fortitude or resources that are required for it. Plus, as I have said before, I was thoroughly trained never to cry. Even tonight when this happened there was no threat of a tear.
The second thing about this experience tonight was relief from a harsh judgment I have held against myself for this situation faced by my child. I didn't let myself think about it consciously. But, underneath I have been furious at me for not preventing the situation. So, when we resolved it, when I heard my words of pride and encouragement, I realized there wasn't anything for which to blame myself. None of us caused the situation and we made the best decisions along the way that could be made. We were careful. We were focused on the child's best interest. I advocated. I encouraged. I supported. And I protected. We did everything we could and should have done. I am proud of the outcome. Not just for my child, but for me. I did the right things. I didn't let something that could have been harmful become harmful.
I felt an enormous boulder lift out of my heart. I let go of a terrible judgment I had made, an unfair, unkind judgment. The words I said to my child, were also words I should have said to me. "I'm proud of you. You faced a very difficult and complicated series of problems with compassion, with grace, with patience, and with love. That took courage. I'm so very proud of you."
It was that thought that made my abdomen finally turn over. I think I was literally letting out the cruel self-judgment that was hiding in my guts.
I do wish I could cry. I think I would cry now if I could. I'm not sure if I feel more grief stricken or proud. I guess both can be equally intense at the same time. Yes?
The scene with Bette Midler singing "In My Life" - by the Beatles - from the movie, "For the Boys" fits what I'm feeling, I think: