Hurt People, Hurt People...
And when we let them continue to hurt us, then we inadvertently hurt them back...
Or something like that.
I got a lot of comments from my last post. All supportive and loving which is rare on social media. I am blessed and grateful. Someone I respect a great deal said this:
“He needs your boundaries as much as you do, being allowed to treat you badly hurts him too, and the less it is allowed to happen, the less guilt and shame he will have to feel on his way out of these tough years”
That hit me so hard. He is so spot on. Me tolerating the treatment only allows him to feel worse about himself. I mean how could he not? I know that most of his anger is from deep within him, about him and is only directed at me partially because I have taken it for so long and also because I seem to be an easy target...I keep showing up for it.
Making the decision to not show up for it anymore was hard. Like super hard. And I have done a lot of work on this and I think that I showed up for so long because of the stories I told myself:
“I deserve it...I have made mistakes.”
“I am his MOTHER - I have to take it.”
“I love him and as much as I hate how he treats me, I can’t leave him...”
And when I wrote these statements out, these and others like it, I was struck with how similar they were to what I would hear battered women say about the husbands and boyfriends that would beat them within an inch of their lives. They said the exact same things for the exact same reason...
A high level of responsibility and guilt, and extremely poor self esteem.
I realized that our cycle was abusive. But I, like them, didn’t know how to leave. I didn’t know how to walk away from my child whom I love with all that I am...until I read my friend’s words and them examined my own reasons...then I saw that this is never going to get better for either of us. I will always be the one to blame and hate and rage on, and if I stay one more minute, then all the work I have done over the years at becoming a better person who actually loves herself would be for almost nothing.
Another dear friend whom I respect and admire said this,
“It is such a difficult decision but one made from a position of self-regard and love for him too. There is a lesson in this for him about how he treats those he loves and himself.”
This was the confirmation I needed to continue, to not give in and call or text or get on the next plane. It IS coming from a position of self regard and regard for him. I love him and because I love him I cannot allow him to treat me this way anymore. I love me and because I love me, I cannot continue to allow the disrespect and rage to belittle me until all I feel is nothing.
It has taken me a very long time to love me. And I will report that the job isn’t complete. I still have moments where I do not like me at all. Times where I would like to be almost anyone else. It is hard and ugly and those are some very bad days. But most of the time, I like who I am and I have come to love and respect all the things about me that make me, me.
I am not perfect and for the most part I have given up all delusions that perfection is attainable or even desirable. I am ok with my imperfections...most of the time. And mostly that is because I do not rage on people I love anymore. I am not disrespectful and hating. I am not gaslighting people and calling them names. All practices that I am not so proud to say that I have done in the past, the distant past, but not so distant that I don’t remember those times.
I have worked hard to become a different person. I have worked very hard to heal that which is mine to heal. And so I know the path. It is now his to walk. I will always be cheering him on, praying for him and hoping, forever hoping that he will find his part in his own misery and take the steps and actions necessary to heal them. But I cannot do it for him and I cannot even lead him to it. The path is now his and I am being asked to step aside and let him through.
So I do. Not because I want to or because I have to, but because going on the way we have been just feels so fucking awful. I just can’t do it anymore. I never thought in a million years that this would be a parenting lesson I would teach or need to learn myself...like ever.
I never thought we would end up here. But here we are. I do not like it and really do not want to accept it but reality always wins so my days of fighting reality and getting my ass kicked are over.
I pray for him. For me. For us. I have faith that God will do that which I cannot. And sometimes the best thing I can do, is nothing.
I am immensely grateful for all the parents who are walking the same path with me, loving kids who are so lost right now. I cannot say how much your love and support means to me. I hate that we know the same pain, but I know that I would not be where I am without your love, support and guidance.
I am also immensely grateful to all the friends who have never walked this path, but who have set aside judgment and misperception to still show up for me and be a friend. It is not easy being there for someone who is walking through something to which you can’t relate. That takes guts and courage. Thank you.
I am deeply grateful to my family. Their love and support has carried me through some very dark times. They have never judged or told me what to do. Instead stood beside me, loving me, and loving him. Not always easy to be Switzerland in our battles that is for sure.
And finally, I am grateful to my God for giving me perseverance as a character trait. I do not give up easily. I am tenacious. And that has saved me more than once in this life. I am grateful for these character traits being bestowed upon me while also enabling me to be soft, unhardened by the twists and turns of life. It is easy to persevere or have tenacity when your heart is safely ensconced inside your chest. It is another matter still when your heart beats loudly on the ground your child has tossed it upon. Or stretches it from here to Alaska and back again. I am mostly grateful for the tenacity and the tenderness. I am not bitter or angry just sad and a touch despondent at times. But I feel it all, the highs and lows and as painful as it is, I am grateful to feel it all.
Once upon a time, I could not feel anything but anger. That was it. No joy, no pain, no sadness or despondency...only rage and anger prevailed.
Today, as hard as it is, I am in it to feel it all. And I am grateful to the God of my understanding for giving me the courage to love from a distance while never giving up. To step away but remain heart opened, willing to feel whatever comes.
I have been that hurt person that hurts people and I likely will be again. But I am learning, some would say all too slowly, that allowing someone, even your own child, to treat you like you do not matter only deepens the wound for both. Hard lesson but I am learning...still.