Warning: F-bombs up ahead.
I have a shame that’s here at the moment.
A shame that feels heart-breaking to write, and heart-breaking to read in my internal library, but a shame that needs to be read—and written—aloud.
Because shame is a sneaky motherfucker and for the last few days, I didn’t realise that shame what was happening but I was tumbling deeper and deeper into a hole of silence and suppression, trauma and desperation.
Then this morning I woke and realised with a bang, that it is shame and a deep fear that has been keeping me from expressing what I need, and needed, to.
It’s been shame that’s been leaving me believing from my core that I’m not worthy, I’m not deserving. I need to be alone, I can’t feel united or together. I’m fucked and helpless. I can’t be loved and I’m not able to be, either.
It’s shame that’s been eating me up and keeping this all quiet, and keeping in a place of feeling fearful of being authentic and being me—the thing I’ve been embracing, lately. It’s shame that seemingly lost me my feet in my healing.
It’s the shame that I came from my mother.
Just writing those words, I feel shame around my shame.
This shame that I am my mother’s daughter is something that has felt so incredibly present recently. In many ways it’s been present for a long time—particularly the last two years I’ve begun healing, the two years I’ve cut contact—but there’s something different about its presence now.
It’s here to be shared, to be told something different, to be told that I am new, I am not her, and I never was and I never will be. It’s as though, by cutting contact, all these things, these feelings, this shame, this part of my story, can be even more present than it was before, because it’s here to be healed, not here to hurt.
When I see her in my face, I want to run.
I want to hate myself just as much as I hated her.
I feel sick at memories of her ugliness.
I want to take off my face and replace it with someone else’s, something else, anything except the one I see.
My face reminds me of my story.
It reminds me of my pain, of my trauma.
It reminds me of her.
I try to see my beauty, but in these moments I can’t because I’m flooded with memories of her, and trauma. These moments remind me that even in her fucked-up-ness, she held beauty, and that is something I am so, so, not ready to believe.
Instead, I tell my wounded girl that’s looking at herself, “You’re not your mum”. I tell her, “You’re your own person. You are not her. You are so incredibly beautiful. “ We both smile, tear-up, and gently laugh, knowing it’s true.
We know that I am so incredibly different, so incredibly beautiful, so incredibly me.
So incredibly not her.
We realise that these demons haunting me, are trauma…it’s not truth, and it will settle. Things will settle, I will settle.
We find each other again, and I find the me I am now.
The me away from the trauma, beneath the flooding, and separate from this haunting connection.
When I realise and remember that I came from her—I was born from her body—I feel sick.
My stomach knots.
I feel dirty. I feel tight and restricted, disconnected and full of disgust.
I feel traumatised just knowing this.
I desperately need to vacate my own four walls.
I want to run as fast and as far as I can.
I want to inhabit a new body, a new home, a new me—anything but what’s mine.
I want to find a rock, hide underneath it, and never come out.
It’s the knowing I came from her.
The knowing that she made me and I am part of her, she is part of me.
I long to abandon myself, but I can’t anymore. There’s a part of me blossoming lately. She loves me and holds me and tells me I’m different to what I always knew before, I’m so incredibly different to the person I came from.
She tells me I’m blossoming and becoming the person I always was away from her, and that this is only strengthening and will continue to.
In these moments of remembering where I came from, and the feeling of being flooded by it, I struggle to feel this and her voice is a faint whisper that’s hard to hold onto. The trauma swamps me as it did before, for all the years she was intimately part of my story.
The shame that’s here now is the same shame that kept me silent then.
Knowing I came from her easily leaves me believing I’m not loveable—according to my critic, I am dirty, fucked up, and hopeless. And the wounded parts of me believe this.
The shame swamps and seeps, leaving me believing whatever trauma is here, whatever has been triggered, is my fault, because I came from her.
Because she is part of my story, part of me.
And, according to my critic, if it’s my fault then I don’t deserve love and support, compassion and forgiveness, from those around me.
I don’t deserve to talk. I need to be with it alone, and I need to heal it alone, too, because it’s my shit to deal with. It’s my fault for being her daughter.
It’s my fault I chose her as my mother.
I remember feeling this a lot as a kid and a teen.
When I would be torn up sideways with pain and discomfort, responsibility and trauma, I would feel a deep sense of understanding for those around me who weren’t helping me in the ways I so desperately needed them to. An understanding that has now shifted, as I’m developing new understandings.
When I look back and realise my younger self had this understanding—this compassion, this forgiveness— from such a young age, I feel a deep sorrow, a blinding rage, a vast sense of protection, and a nausea so thick it swamps me.
I hate that this was what my younger self knew—I feel so angry that she didn’t have anyone to tell her that things could be different, and that this belief she held wasn’t truth.
From the eyes of my inner girl, she was my mother and so I needed to help her, alone. Because there wasn’t anyone else there to help me, and that’s all she knew what to do.
From the eyes of my teen, of course they weren’t going to help me. She wasn’t their problem, she wasn’t their story, she wasn’t anything to do with them—she was everything to do with me.
From the eyes of my critic, this was my story and my situation, so I needed to deal with it, solo.
Now she isn’t everything to do with me at all, but she’s still here—not in person but in the sense of me healing. And I fucking hate it.
I long, long, long, for it to be different. I long for cutting contact with her to mean cutting her from my story completely. I feel so angry that it doesn’t and it won’t and it couldn’t and it never will mean that.
The difference is, I’m in a distillation process.
I’m learning to figure out what’s mine to keep and what’s mine to get-the-fuck-rid-of and leave-the-fuck-behind.
I’m filtering out the old from the new.
I’m determining what is her and what is me, what was her and what was me.
I’m figuring out how to have all of my story be here—the pain, the agony, the trauma, the wisdom, the beauty—and not let one part of it, one part of me, define me completely. But rather to have it and me be here as a whole, and for me to live this whole completely.
I’m learning to find a way to let my mum be part of my story as a character is part of a novel, but not let her presence in my life determine where I see my life going. To not let it, let her, determine what I believe my life is worth and what I am worth.
I may be her daughter, but I will never, ever, be her.
I am, and always will be, me.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: Berrell Pratama