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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Children of Narcissist Parents, Toxic Parents

If you are an adult in a toxic relationship with someone who has power over you in some way, it sometimes takes great strength and patience and courage to break away. It can take a long time. 

If you are a child or a teen and it is your parent that is toxic, there is no leaving, not really. A part of their toxic message, toxic parenting, toxic messages about who you are get into your head and lurk there always. In a normal and healthy relationship between parent and child we celebrate how it is that the words of a parent become a child's self talk, voice in their head. But when a child is reared by one or more parents who are toxic in their own various ways, still, the words of the parents continue to play inside of the heads of the children long into adulthood.

We get so much of our identity from our parents, like it or not. We get other things too. We learn how to communicate anger, sadness, frustration, celebration, jealousy, loneliness... We learn how to care for ourselves in times of need, how to self soothe, how to express confusion, how to identify nuances of emotion, how to manage boredom, how to be ill, how to manage our expenses, how to care for another human being, how to manage conflict, how to prioritize, how to manage money, how to move into the world, how to separate, how to attract a partner, how to be in love. 

We learn how it feels to be connected to another person, how to figure out or create our own place in the world, what love looks like, how to explore boundaries between two people, how to express ourselves clearly and fully, how to explore new ideas, how to operate in a sexual relationship, how to be parents, how to experience love, how to manage personal power, how to behave in social situations. 

And we learn how to manage illness and good health, how to become more independent, how to develop skills for coping with difficulty, how to get emotional needs met, how to explore identity, how to sense reality and non-reality, how to explore uniquely personal qualities, how to choose action rather than simply react, how to identify distorted thinking, and so much more. 

If your parents are narcissists or other toxic temperaments, as a child you are essentially captive. You have no choice. And, often, you have no idea how toxic your situation is in comparison to others. You are at the mercy of your parents. 

As a child, when you begin to gain independence, as you begin to question things, your parent started bickering, rejecting, seeking more control, more abusive, etc. As you mature and explore new reactions to the toxic crap like gaslighting or guilt or brainwashing efforts, as you become less and less manipulatable (is that a word? I mean less willing to be manipulated), as you no longer let things slip by unquestioned, as you remove your parent from a pedestal, as you stop feeding the toxic parent's need for adulation or unquestioning adoration you can become more and more the object of anger by the parent.

In my own case, as my eyes opened more and more, every single step I attempted to take into independence was thwarted, criticized, and generally not supported by my toxic parent. He began acting victimized, betrayed, supremely wounded by my independent thought and by my denial of falsehoods. He moved from abuser to victim. Interestingly enough, my other parent did the same thing years later.


This crap, these unhealthy and abusive messages, sticks with you long into adulthood. But there is  healing. There is reparenting. There is learning how to be your own internal parent and internal voice of health. It can happen. You can make it happen. You can be there for yourself. You can move towards a person who is no longer controlled or strongly affected by the internal web of voices.

Any journey toward a healthier you is a journey that takes time and that requires you to face and accomplish certain psychological tasks. Let's look at some possible tasks that may confront a person who is seeking to shrug off the puppet lines and abuse and seeks to move toward personal empowerment and healthy happiness.
  • First, acknowledge that this toxic parent dynamic is limiting you, is controlling you, or is making you feel sick inside. It's old news, but admitting that you have a problem actually empowers you and helps you to figure out where you want to be.
  • Secondly, this acknowledgment of problematic thought patterns helps you to identify those places where your thought patterns are actually bits of brainwashing or programming or gaslighting that are limiting your emotional growth.
  • Third, recognize that there is much to learn. The longer you are on the pathway to better emotional health the more often you will recognize places where you need help or guidance or education. 
  • Fourth, you will have to grieve the life long loss of healthy, loving parents. Honestly, let's acknowledge that this grief will remain with us for much of our lives.
  • Fifth, you will learn the glorious world of emotions that are available to you. You will learn how to experience the fullness of your humanness in a safe environment.
  • And sixth, you will locate and accept help on the healing journey. Clear, fresh eyes to help you to find your way. Connection with other people who are on a journey towards emotional health. People who care and support your efforts.

Remember this one thing, this journey of self-discovery is yours alone; one you must take without the approval or the company of your toxic parent. Each day you are on this journey you will grow a little bit more. Day by day, one day at a time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Authenticity: Towards a Genuinely Healthy Life

Are you going to bed each night with the belief that you are not loved enough knowing that you are not appreciated, or fearful that no one truly accepts you for who you are? 

Is your energy spent attempting to get people to notice and to approve? Do you feel empty and nothing inside unless someone else confirms your value or personal worth? Is it essential to get affection and affirmation from outside of your own head? Do you feel valueless unless someone else validates you?

Are you convinced that you need to do something else to get the love you so desperately desire? To BE someone elseDo you feel invisible in your world? Did anyone look you in the eye today?

Today is the day you are going to change that because there is one person who can and who will be completely on your side from here on out. You may doubt this person at times. You may feel certain that they do not understand. They might go through times when they want to back off from you or when you have a very difficult time believing them. But they will stick with you and will truly never, ever be against you. 

It is YOU. You are capable of being your own best friend, of being the new voice in your head. You are able to look yourself in the eye and say You mean everything to me and I am happy with who you are.

Although you will have days when it is far more difficult to be on your own side... that is fair, but it will get easier to love yourself when you do this single essential thing: become your authentic self.

Being authentically yourself means letting go of who you think that you are supposed to be, who others think you should be, who you think you need to be in order to be OK. Being authentically yourself means that you frequently, perhaps daily, remind yourself of those things that you do not choose for yourself. No matter how strong or loud that other, external voice is, your own voice is your strongest ally. Listen to yourself and give your own voice volume. And being authentically you also means to embrace and love the real you.

For some reason, it is easy to hear the voices of those who call for us to be someone other than who we are. Those reasons of ease might because other voices have practiced longer, they speak louder, or they feel more worthy. Yet STILL, your honest, quiet voice speaking its own truth is still more true. And it will strengthen. Believe it.

You are TRULY good enough, no exceptions.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sarcastic Tendencies

Happy, secure people have no need to put others down.

I know of some people who seem to feel empowered when they say things to break someone else down. Most of us know people like this. Recently I heard one person lay down a dis to a really nice friend of mine, a very sweet person whose feelings were hurt. The disser could easily have claim just kidding. In fact, people do it every day and get away with it.

Sarcasm is hidden bullying.

In fact, the Greek root for sarcasm, sarkazein, is to tear flesh like dogs? Did you know that?
We all back down from our confrontation of a bully when they claim kidding because we don't want to look petty, overly sensitive, or victimy. But we all know that people who claim kidding are really getting their licks in any way that they can because no one is calling them on it. We also all know someone who is the target of this kidding and who feels powerless to stop it. That is why I make it a point, any time someone is pulling this old trick, to say No More Kidding, then. Because it is not funny and because we all know that old trick. I think it's time to put an end to it for so many reasons.

Often, people who use sarcasm as a passive-aggressive way to make fun act disdainful of kindness, politeness, awareness of the feelings of others. They see kindness and such as weakness. At this point, they don't understand that it takes a strong person to show kindness in the face of unpleasantness, rudeness, or treachery.

Sarcasm and put downs are insidious for another reason: they are underhanded and secretive. Behind mocking and smug superiority is a hurtful criticism hiding behind a veil of jocularity. The joker can even say to someone with hurt feelings,I'm just kidding!  You are too sensitive!

People who rely on sarcasm are displaying their inability to verbalize their feelings, their disrespect for others, their poor impulse control, their inchoate self knowledge, and their undeveloped sense of compassion. They are even, sometimes, identifying with a person who has victimized them in the past. And they don't even know it. They are busy closing their eyes to the harmful effects that their words have on others and they are busy thinking, Why don't you just lighten up?

The person who bullies in this way has no need to see themselves as an oppressor because they keep themselves veiled in the cloak of joking, even to themselves. The acerbic-tongued person is quite convinced that they are superior, entertaining, and well-liked. But a person who relies on sarcasm, scorn, ridicule, or mockery is actually struggling with low self esteem and poor knowledge of their true self.  They just don't realize it.  

On social media I often see memes glorifying sarcasm as a superior way of dealing with "stupid people". But I disagree. Sarcasm is nothing more than bullying and a lack of grace, kindness, and courtesy. Maybe I am alone in this, but I don't find sarcasm and derision entertaining.

As a recovering sarcasm junkie myself, I know that when a person uses sarcasm as a major approach to interact with the world around them, they keep true friendship at bay. They see others as inferior, stupid, irrelevant while being unaware of their own fragility, vulnerability, fear of failure. Personally, it took a few episodes of injury to people that I care about before I saw exactly how the sarcasm reflected my wounded internal self. I was convinced that I was joking, clever, funny, and entertaining when, the whole time, I was floundering and fearful of having others discover my ineptitude.

But I couldn't have said that at the time.

Knowing this has made me far more compassionate to people with caustic personalities or disparaging tones when interacting with others. I recognize that they are hiding so much from themselves. In fact, most do not recognize it in themselves...

Breaking away from sarcasm was a very deliberate and long road, but with a determination to be authentic and compassionate and open and growing, I made it. And so can you. Become aware of it. Choose to make a difference. Decide to become a happier person.

And if it is your child who is sarcastic or bullying, you won't find much on the internet to help you, but this is a good place to start. If you are a parent looking for what to do when the bully is your child, come back again because I do plan on writing more about this in the future.

SO, if you are putting others down, think about working on yourself first.
You are worth it.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Love You

If you are reading and researching tonight, trying to figure out if you are in an injurious or harmful relationship, let's look at what qualities might as a harmful, injurious relationship. Let's look as a short list of questions to ask yourself. If you can answer yes to any one or more of these questions, I recommend you continue to read on. In all cases, the word partner refers to the relationship that you are exploring, regardless of that relationship, be it employer, sibling, teacher, friend, parent, etc.

  • Do you feel criticized, undermined, or judged when you seek to meet a goal or to improve yourself?
  • Do you doubt or question your partner's honesty or openness?
  • Do you feel anxious or walking on eggshells when it is time to be with your partner?
  • When your time with your partner ends and you are alone, do you feel utterly exhausted or downcast?
  • Do you feel as though your partner loves and appreciates you and cares for your well-being?
  • Does your partner tend to create competition or conflict about seeming small issues?
  • Does your partner belittle your input, thoughts, efforts, and ideas?
  • Does your relationship seem to be unbalanced and focused mainly on your partner?

If you can answer yes or maybe to even one of these questions, it is likely that you are embroiled in an unhealthy relationship. It's important to identify unhealthy relationships and alliances because they cause illness in many different ways. If you are unsure, know it now.

One person on earth is here to care for your needs: YOU.
With greater awareness of the toxicity in your life comes the greater awareness that you have a new job to do. You can take care of yourself. YOU.

The good news, you are so worth taking care of. You are loving and kind and worthy. 
You deserve warmth and care and support and understanding and heartful love and all good things. Take all of those efforts to please someone else and turn them inward.

In case you have forgotten how to take care of yourself, here are a few great starting places. 

  • First, if you feel it, respect that feeling for it is real to you and it is yours. Every feeling you have deserves to be heard and felt and cared for.
  • Hear your thoughts, for they are yours and deserving of attention. 
  • When the thoughts are those of guilt, shame, or self-loathing, turn them around and give yourself the gift of thoughts of self-love, care, and kindness.  No matter what.
  • Give yourself the gift of time because time is love. Journal, rest, talk with caring friends, find a therapist, walk in nature. With the exception of using addictive substances or behaviors, enjoy activities that nurture you.

Take this journey toward yourself.
You deserve it.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Boundaries: Don't Be Fooled

The day you finally make those steps away from the toxic one in your life you set up a challenge for them. Every single effort you make to create healthy boundaries between you and the toxic one is like a flashing light saying pursue me to their unhealthy ego and coping skills.

Your healthy boundaries may include things like having the ability to say NO, meaning it, and not apologizing for it. Healthy boundaries may include refusing to allow others to define you, speaking up when you are tread upon, maintaining high expectations for those in your life, recognize the difference between you and others, taking care of your own needs without needing others to care for you, asking for what you need, and allowing relationships to take time before making commitments to them.

Maintaining these personal rules, boundaries, show a sign of higher self esteem, increased stability in your life and in your relationships, greater confidence, a reality-based life, and a more fulfilling life. Who can resist that?!  The toxic one will attempt to recontact you, they will try to reengage you.

Know This

The toxic one will sound so very sincere, so very wounded, so very needy.  Or they will sound so very healthy. They will apologize. They will take the blame. They will sound reasonable. They will say how much they will miss you. They will sound well-meaning. They will seem perfectly innocent and reasonable. They will look like they did in the beginning when you were first attracted to them: too good to be true.

Know this: changing dysfunctional patterns take significant effort and time and deliberate activity. Buying into their false claims will take you off of the hard road toward yourself that you have been walking.

Know this: their mask of perfection is back on. They still believe that they are not to blame and they will return to their toxicity very quickly. Their toxicity cannot remain hidden long.

Know this: that your walk toward yourself is too important to enter back into the cycle of drama, cruelty, ugliness, and heartbreak.

You Have Come This Far

Celebrate that road towards yourself. Continue to create yourself, to learn about yourself, to become who you truly are. Remember to stay on the pathway to yourself by maintaining the boundaries that you have fought so hard to erect...move forward, ever forward; move toward that bright future where you are healthy and your relationships are healthy.

Have no doubt: your healthy boundaries are your key to the life you are longing for.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Powerless of Powerful?

Did you think of that?
They're playing every single mind game at their disposal and you have bought into it in an effort to keep the peace. But now you've caught on. Now you can see it. Now they can no longer keep you confused, silent, compliant.

When you finally see their game, you become powerful.
Know that there is an end.
Know that you have choices.
Know that they don't get to define you.
Know that there is safety outside of the system.
Now you know.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

You've Got This You've Got This You've Got This

It's one of those times when it is not so obvious how to live my own life. I'm smack dab in the center of a family situation that is difficult and impossible to simplify. Because I am helping a family member with a medical crisis I have reengaged with family members that I have been estranged from for years.  I have reengaged online so that I can keep everyone informed about the medical crisis of a sibling.

Anyway, I'm sure you know where I am going with this.
I am, again, swimming in toxicity.  

I'm very selective with whom I share myself. I choose to share my authenticity, my energy, my time, my passions, and my attention only to people who are sincere, trustworthy, in earnest, and genuine. Yet here I am in constant contact with toxic people and I am hearing family toxic stories, claims, and criticism of me that I have stayed away from for these many years.

Furthermore I'm far away from the incredible support of my husband, children, and friends. It is really getting to me. When I flew home for a short visit I found myself awake all night, toxic words in my head, feeling incredibly poisoned, and completely unable to stop the crap and go to sleep.

My husband woke up, held me, stroked my hair, whispered in my ear, gave me the beauty of love and kindness and, finally, I fell asleep. The next morning I remembered, I have been here before. I have the strength to find my personal piece of mind. I have healthy resources. I know for certain that I can find my way through this because I have done it before.

I trust my own growth. And besides, I deserved that good cry.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

When You're Back on Your Feet Again

It feels so alone, so endless.
But I am here to tell you that one day, it will be over.

One day you will look behind you and see that you have been walking tall and confident and honestly; your steps will be straight and even.

This is a reminder to you, when you have forgotten that there will be a new day, when you have lost sight of the real you, when you haven't seen yourself in so long.
YOU. You will be back on your feet again.

When I'm Back on my Feet Again

by Michael Bolton

Gonna break these chains around me 
Gonna learn to fly again 
May be hard, may be hard 
But I'll do it 
When I'm back on my feet again 

Soon these tears will all be dryin' 
Soon these eyes will see the sun 
Might take time, might take time 
But I'll see it 
When I'm back on my feet again 

When I'm back on my feet again 
I'll walk proud down this street again 
And they'll all look at me again 
And they'll see that I'm strong 

Gonna hear the children laughing 
Gonna hear the voices sing 
Won't be long, won't be long 
Till I hear them 
When I'm back on my feet again 

I'm gonna feel the sweet light of heaven 
Shining down its light on me 
One sweet day, one sweet day 
I will feel it 
When I'm back on my feet again 


And I'm not gonna crawl again 
I will learn to stand tall again 
No I'm not gonna fall again 
Cos I'll learn to be strong 

Soon these tears will all be dryin' 
Soon these eyes will see the sun 
Won't be long, won't be long 
Till I see it 
When I'm back on my feet again 
When I'm back on my feet again 
I'll be back on my feet again

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Reclaim Yourself

The very moment you were treated as a pawn rather than as a vulnerable and confused child you were being used by someone for their own reasons. Think of the child in the middle of a hideous trench warfare of divorce. One parent trying to hurt the other. One parent seeking to injure the others through the kids.

YES, it will hurt your spouse when you get the children to lie about them. 

YES, it will hurt your spouse to have the kids deny them. 
YES, it will hurt your spouse to display your ongoing control.
YES, it will hurt your spouse to show them what they are leaving.
YES, it will hurt your spouse to have the kids accept a new parent.
YES, it will hurt your spouse to have the kids act hateful toward their parent.

But more, it will hurt the children.

As a woman in her fifties who was brainwashed for so many years, I can promise you, dear Children of Alienating Parents:

  • You are not to blame.
  • You deserve comfort.
  • You are allowed to love anyone you love.
  • You don't owe it to anyone else to feel their feelings for them.
  • You can't betray one parent by loving the other as well.
  • It is not your place to replace an absent parent.
  • It is not your place to comfort your parent.
  • You can trust your senses, even when you cannot trust stories told to you.
  • People who call you or your loved ones names are exhibiting their own immaturity, not speaking the truth.
  • The behavior of your parent or parents does not define you.
  • You are entitled to have a relationship with any parent, sibling, or other important family/friend that you need.
  • Trust yourself.
  • This list is not exhaustive: Write your own!

These games played with Little You, Little Innocent and Well-Meaning you are still in your mind and your heart.

But you deserve to let those games go!
You deserve to let go of the games and the pain!
Do everything it takes to move forward because these toxic people and their manipulations, lies, and games have inhabited enough of your life. They have controlled you long enough.

Begin today. Reclaim yourself.


Stand taller.
Refuse the stories.

See a therapist.
Speak the truth.
Stand taller still.
Speak up.
Own your own experiences.
Value every facet of yourself.
Acknowledge every truth.
Say that which is unsaid.
Know your truth.
Know your truth is valid.
Know that you deserve this.
Refuse to deny.
Stay safe.
And stand taller still.

It is a process and you deserve to take that first step.
Seek peace.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I'm a Burden

I suck. i wish i would die. i'm a burden. i suck. i wanna die. i hate myself. I hate myself. I'm a pain in the ass. i'm sick of myself.
Some days are worse than others and these are the worst. You feel as though you are being a tremendous pain in the ass. You hate yourself and wish your life would end. You are certain that the people in your life are weary of your pain. Surely your needs are difficult to handle and everyone is exhausted of the nuisance that is your life. 
It feels like a relentless load, your life, and you fear that the people in your life consider you to be an plague to have around.

The truth of the matter is that you need help.
That fact doesn't make you unlovable.

Every person on the planet requires help at some point. Every one of us requires a hand up. Some periods of crisis and need last far longer than we like. It is embarrassing. It feels shameful. 

Maybe your behavior has been appalling.
Maybe you are unpleasant to be around.

Maybe you have acted in ways that embarrass you and that tax others.
Maybe you feel as though you are falling apart.
Maybe you and your support people feel incredibly powerless and sad by your struggles.
Maybe you feel too needy.
Too sensitive.

This is one of those times of your life when you are on the receiving end of help. Later in your life you will be on the giving end. One day you will be on your feet, standing tall...and when you are you will offer your hand and your heart to those around you who feel like a burden to those around them. You will understand completely.

For this moment of your life you are on the receiving end. 

And still, STILL you are lovable. You are worthy. You are deserving of love and care and kindness.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I Need Closure

I need answers. I need to understand. narcissist, recovery from emotional abuse
You wanted them to be someone else, the person that they presented themselves as. They came to you looking handsome and charismatic and charming and perfect. They saw someone who was open to love, kindness, and connection. They conquered

You did nothing wrong in being open to someone. They took advantage of your gentleness, your loving heart, your optimism. Perhaps they had an abusive childhood; perhaps they didn't get love in a healthy manner; perhaps their toxicity was come by honestly. Still, you cannot fix it.

You know all of the relationships that the toxic one had before you? Relationships with people that they now characterize as crazy? Those people believed in them too at one point. Those so-called crazy people escaped them. They are now recovering from the toxic one. Those people are still spitting out the water from the last time the toxic one let them drown. Those people have had no closure either.

Why do they have no closure? Because there is truly no closure with someone toxic
In order to escape you must see it for what it is, not for what you wish it to be. Know that there is no explanation, no understanding, no satisfying conclusion, and no forgiveness as an ending to this relationship. 

You must accept it for what it is, lift yourself up, and move on to the life you deserve, to the life that you are missing out on every single moment that you stay. 

There is no closure.
Don't call. Don't visit. Don't seek contact of any kind.

But there is a place of no contact. There is healing. 
There is fresh air and sunshine. There is peace. There is you.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


In a family or group of any kind, it is always preferable to talk directly to a person with whom you have conflict. 

Seems kind of logical, doesn't it?

But in some groups, families, or relationships, a great deal of communication goes on behind the scenes by a very manipulative person: a triangulator. 

The triangulator may set up scenarios where one person is talking to a third person (or a fourth or fifth person) in order to get that person to join the side of the first person...ugh; or where one person is relaying information back and forth between two people in conflict, people who haven't spoken to one another at all, adding their own opinions and slants to the stories; when one person tells a second person that a third person says this about them, thereby provoking anger and dissent between the two; scenarios like where a dominant person slanders or devalues loved ones to a subordinate so that the subordinate becomes more dependent on the dominant person for information, friendship, comradeship. Triangulation.

All of these cases are called triangulation and in of these cases, the person in the middle, the person doing the triangulating, is manipulating situations to be more in his or her favor. The actions of in a toxic triangulating person tend to cause drama, pain, conflict.

Is the toxic person in your life in the habit of pointing out the negative points of your friends, your family, your children, your job, your church, public institutions, or any other support or connection group, thereby putting a barrier or conflict between you and these supports? Are you being slandered to friends, family, etc? Are you left out of the loop? Are you left stranded? Have you been reported to public or social institutions and are now being investigated for unfounded or bizarre claims against you, claims that might actually be true of the toxic person? Is your access to necessary resources cut off? 

But WHY would someone engage in this exhausting and chaotic activity? What sort of gratification can a toxic person possibly obtain through triangulation?

It is all about control.

The toxic triangulator gains allies against you, putting you in the subordinate position. They are extremely deliberate in their approach; they are good at it. You become enmeshed in a never-ending chaos of their creation. You feel as though you cannot get your life back.

What to do?

But be hopeful because there are specific and doable ways to prevent yourself from getting into situations this dire and chaotic.  Maintaining control of your life, not letting go of control, maintaining healthy boundaries, are absolutely essential keys to prevent toxic people from getting control of your life, to avoid toxic relationships, and to create a life where healthy relationships can happen.

I remember a friend years ago telling her therapist I let people in too soon and I reveal myself too early and they hurt me.
The therapist replied Well, don't do that. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Be the Artist

They steal your joy.
They bring disapproval into your garden. 
They dis you, your efforts, your children, your home, your needs, your experiences, your strength, your feelings, just expressing yourself. They bring cutting sarcasm, disrespect, minimizing important things, blaming, efforts to control you, and psychological attacks. 

We know that at some level our penchant to care too much, our altruism, our sensitivity actually makes us a target to cruel, lying, betraying , or hurtful, small people. 

What they don't expect is that moment when we stand up and say no more. They are shocked the moment we quietly close the door. They are in a state of disbelief the moment we trust ourselves, trust our instincts, and stop participating in their power game. 

We are ready and on the move.
We have found the gumption and the renewal.
We pick up our own paintbrush and become the artist of ourselves, and we are the artwork. Let's make it personal.
We are worth it.

I'm ready for some affirmations:
I am pure light.
Each day is a renewal for me.
I will bring the joy where ever I can.
I am full of personal joy.

I am living my life to the fullest.
Today is full of possibilities.
I can create and attain my dreams.
I am resilient and strong.
I am prepared for life.
I  have inner strength.
I am bold and brave.
I embrace new opportunities.
I cherish new experiences.

Friday, May 15, 2015

It is Mother's Day; Here is a Card

It's Mother's Day; here's a card.
That is the card that I have always looked for on a day like Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays, and other holidays.
It is traditional that we love you and this is supposed to be your day so here is a card to let you know that I tried.

It is a difficult day. 
If you have taken years of strengthening, couraging up, and creating space between you and your parent because of all of the trauma or pain, then KUDOS to you. YAY you!
Now face this day designed to celebrate parents.
If you have worked hard for years to place space between you and your toxic parent, facing the celebrations of Mother's Day or Father's Day feels incredibly counterfeit and yet alluring somehow. The commercials on TV or in print paint that glorious image of good parenting and...inside...we long for those images of healthy.

The voices in our heads want to start believing the calls to forgive and forget and we just want to join hands with our parent and enjoy the closeness of the day. We hear the messages of reconciliation and wonder if there is something wrong with us, that we have chosen to live our lives without our own parents.

The celebrations for motherhood surround us, but what about us, the kids who have bravely severed the ties with our toxic parents? Probably the toughest break up in the world is the break up with the person who gave birth to us, the people responsible for our very existence, a person with whom we share DNA. 

Is there a celebration for us on this day?

What about those among us who have made the almost-impossible choice to take ourselves, our children, and our spouses, and to create deliberate space from our parents of origin? We have had nights, years of anguish with ourselves, crying out for healing, for release from the toxic soup of our own parents... Unhealthy parenting might be the cruelest gift to give to one's own children.

On these days we are exquisitely aware of the breech.
We are aware that we have become the bad kid when we called it quits in the game of family-of-origin life dramas.  We are perfectly aware of the absence of a grandmother figure in the lives of our children. We are completely aware that someone somewhere is thinking ill of us and in how we have mistreated them by leaving their turmoil behind.

But we did it.
We did the thing that takes tremendous courage and personal will.
And today, as so many folks celebrate that unfathomable thing, the good and loving mother, we wonder how we can make this day our own.

Consider celebrating a mother figure.
Consider adopting a senior neighborhood woman.

Consider commemorating the women and men who have helped you to feel grounded and valuable and at peace.
Celebrate the family that you have created.

And remember to celebrate that bravest of people, that person who seeks out the light and the bright, holding close the personal plan of all that is healthy. That person who sacrifices what is comfortable to discover that which is worthy of celebrating. 
Celebrate yourself.
Do whatever your loving and healing heart desires.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Rebirth, Renewal, and Renaissance

I have several friends in their 40s and 50s who are embarking on very new seasons of their lives, right here and now, at spring time when the fecundity of life and earth are our ever-present companions. I like to think that most of us deeply feel that movement inside of all living things with the longer days and the rebirth of the warm season here in the northern hemisphere.

The journeys that my friends are taking are varied and unique, yet I am struck by one overriding component of their lives, renaissance. 
Transitional moments, renewal, embarkation. 
I love these women with all of my heart and I am tremendously moved by their journeys, individual and remarkable and disparate.

This morning, a morning of celebration for the renewal of the season, my friend Laura posted this on her Facebook page and I found it incredibly beautiful. Sharing.


A garden inside me, unknown, secret,
neglected for years,
the layers of its soil deep and thick.
Trees in the corners with branching arms
and the tangled briars like broken nets.

Sunrise through the misted orchard,
morning sun turns silver on the pointed twigs,
I have woken from the sleep of ages and I am not sure
if I am really seeing, or dreaming,
or simply astonished
walking towards sunrise
to have stumbled into the garden
where the stone was rolled from the tomb of longing.

EASTER MORNING IN WALES From RIVER FLOW: New and Selected Poems, © David Whyte and Many Rivers Press

Photo © David Whyte 2014
Sun Through Sycamores

In some way, many of us are entering into our own renaissance at this time of year as our lives expand, transform, harmonize with the clean, cool season. I feel it deep inside, pushing through the muddy earth, as it pokes its head into the crisp air. New projects and interesting enterprises have entered my life and I feel fortunate and excited at their possibilities.

Today I celebrate that renewal process 
and I hope that you are experiencing 
the freshness of the morning in your life.
Do you feel it in your life?
Can you sense something budding
silent, furtive, affirming?

Dedicated to the beautiful Laras and Lauras in my life.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Love From Outside of the Door

It is possible to love someone who is toxic and to not keep them in your life and I am living proof.

A few weeks ago I received a phone call from a person in my family who has been extremely hyper-critical, hyper-cutting, judgey, angry, sarcastic...toxic to the extreme for many years. Interestingly enough, my extended family (aunts and cousins, et al) have always adored that sharp personality of hers.

We used to be incredibly, incredibly close. Those years ago, as time went on I saw that she was simply killing me from the inside out. I talked to her many, many times and she knew her behavior was hurtful and harmful and she knew that I was telling her what I needed from her. Yet she could not change.

The burden of change was on me.
Keep that in mind; the burden of change is almost always on the person who is capable of seeing things clearly.

I told her that, in spite of loving her, I would not remain in the same room with her. I would move my life outside of the door of her life and hope that she could become a person of kindness. About ten years ago, I did this, I closed the door and moved on. She continued to try to reconnect for awhile, then she started smear campaigns of me whenever she could...

It was painful, but I was grateful to myself for closing that door.


A few weeks ago she called me, these many years later, and she asked for my forgiveness. She told me that she knew that she had treated me appallingly and she knew that those years of her life were lived in serious anger and derision. The intervening years have been good and bad and have taught her many lessons about what is truly essential in her life. 

Her tears and insight were remarkable and hopeful.  I told her that I forgive her completely (because, why not? Why ask for more than her sincere growth and her sincere apology?
She said, thank you, you just forgive me?

Yes, I said, fully.


We talked again today and her loving heart and thinking mind are very obvious. I am happy for the major transformation that her life has afforded her. Today she said, When I think of what I want, at the end of my life, when I think about what means everything to me, one of those things is you. You were right, she said, to make the decision that you did to close that door on me because you are so strong and peaceful. I am happy to be in your life again.

I remain hopeful for the people who carry such hatefulness and cruelty and anger and pain-causing emotion in their hearts. But the door is there for a purpose. When I closed that door (and I would do it again if necessary) I was able to move forward, to see our history clearer, and to feel strong about the door's existence. 
I didn't expect her return; that is a hopeful new chapter; I am happy for her!

After a short conversation with my son I need to add:

Leaving this beloved person was not only better for me, ultimately, it required them to rethink their own choices...and moved them toward the path toward a healthier life...