A Kid in Mom’s Closet

I think I may always feel like a child playing dress-up.

Age-wise I am definitely old enough to be considered an adult. I do many adulting things, like paying bills and buying groceries.

But I still feel like a child playing in her mother’s closet, putting on grown-up shoes and grown-up jewelry.

I’ve moved across the country. I’ve bought a house. I’ve furnished a house. I have Figured Shit Out.

I’m a Grown-Ass Woman.

I feel young and surprised and delighted by all things around me–until I look in the mirror and see What Gravity Hath Wrought.

This body of mine may turn 70 in September, but my brain is still growing up, still taking in new information, still finding the joy in life.

Emotionally I was stunted. First by a childhood where mostly I learned how to attempt to please, stay out of trouble, and fly under the radar. Then in a marriage where I allowed myself to slip away as I tried to please, to stay on his good side, and try to find the freaking radar.

My Favorite Mental Health Provider, my therapist, started raising me back in 2001, at the ripe old age of 47, in the aftermath of my mother’s death.

I feel like I spent so much of my life constantly startled, in fight or flight mode, not understanding how the people who were meant to love me could treat me so badly.

So much juggling with that Me in the background while in the foreground I was trying to act like Everybody Else.

There were bright and shining moments always: being with my kids, laughing with friends, having deep conversations.

But mostly darkness, sadness, depression, hopelessness.

A number of changes in my understanding made all the difference–learning to accept that as confusing and mixed as their messages might be, a person is just precisely them.

Challenging the old messages that were etched into my bones as lies was key. Could my wishing/waiting/hoping change anything about another person? Nope. Was it possible that trying to protect my partner’s image in a church setting to the point that our home was eroding was the very opposite of loving God and loving my neighbor as myself? Yup. Was it possible that my Creator might even want me to remove myself from harm’s way? So much yes!

I (of course) have regrets–could I have lessened the damage a very dysfunctional marriage did to our children by leaving sooner? Caught up in my own struggles, I wasn’t the strong and interactive mother my children deserved.

Yet here, this is where we need to learn to forgive ourselves. We learn when we learn, we grow when we grow.

I’ve apologized to my kids for so many parenting fails and needs I didn’t catch.

I’m sure there are more to apologize for. But–

we learn when we learn. We grow when we grow.

Here’s to our mental health and the place therapy has played in my journey toward Adulting.

And here’s to feeling like my grown-up shoes are starting to fit.


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