Called My Mom – Number 28

Let me just start out by saying that this was by far the most challenging one to write. It was also the most challenging number on the list to do. Most people would think nothing of picking up a phone and calling their mom. I used to be able to do it quite freely despite my hatred of talking on phones. So why was it so hard now? I didn’t go to a wedding. I didn’t go to an out of state wedding 5 hours away. I didn’t go to a wedding!! Who cares why? I didn’t go to a wedding and it affected my relationship with my mom. Let that sink in. It wasn’t HER wedding in case that’s what you’re thinking. I RSVP’d no. I had been doing work on setting boundaries. Things like that “no” was a complete sentence. Learning about how we are not obligated to do things if we don’t want to especially if we feel unsafe or if it would be damaging to us in some way. I can’t say much because I don’t own my story. I can share a couple of things to paint the picture so that this makes sense. One Thanksgiving, Rob said, “Let’s get our food first and sit at the “big table” and see what happens.” So we did. Alone. Until my mom came to sit and looked around confusedly and asked where everyone was.

We just shrugged our shoulders and watched the scenario unfold. A more recent member of the family came and sat because apparently he didn’t get the memo. His wife had to join us or else explain to my mom why they were getting up to eat elsewhere. That “elsewhere” was the tiny island in the kitchen where everyone else was standing around eating. The 5 of us had this huge table to ourselves. It was quite nice. We should have done it years ago. Driving home after dinner, Rob said, “Mark my words. Next time there will be assigned seating.” Yep. Christmas there were placecards and a square card table set up with 4 names on it…Rob’s and mine and two other family members. I wanted so badly to ask if they watch Survivor because they were just shown that they’re at the bottom of the alliance. 

Why would we go to an out of town wedding where we are unwelcome and unwanted? We’d have to stay overnight. It would be multiple events. There is no part of that I could survive. We said no. We could have listed other reasons not the least of which was financial, but the reasons aren’t important. We said no. It’s our choice. Except apparently it wasn’t. For months my parent’s tried every tactic to get me to change my mind. I used my tools. I held my ground. I quoted the books I was reading and the class I was taking on boundaries. It didn’t take. I caved and said we’d go but only for the wedding ceremony. We would drive 5 hours for a 15 minute ceremony and then turn around and drive home for 5 more hours? I couldn’t take the pressure so this is what I agreed to. Then there was this incident with a family member who was in town. This person was going to drive my parents to their doctor appointments. Molly and I were going over to my parent’s house so this person called me and said that there was construction being done and that I would have to park further away than normal. No problem. Thank you for letting me know. So far so good. Then my mom calls and says, “We’ll be gone. Just park in our spot. We won’t be home until later and you’ll be gone by then. No problem. Sounds good, right? 

So I’m sitting on my parent’s couch minding my own business when I get a call from this out of town person and they say to me in a very angry, accusatory tone, “Get out here and move your car!” Ok. “I told you not to park there!” Yeah, but then mom called me and told me to. No she didn’t. Oh yes she did. I was fricking tired of the lifetime of gaslighting and just over it, but I remained calm and kept stating facts as this person yelled at me. Did I mention that both of my parents were in this person’s car and silent the whole time? Well, they were. 

While I’m getting screamed at for something my mom told me to do. I repeated “mom called me and told me that the plan had changed and that I should just park in their space. It’s what I did.” To which this person replied, “You don’t listen to HER you listen to ME!!!” Ummm…hell no. I’m a grown ass adult. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Not only the disrespect to me, but to our parent’s sitting right there. And then for them not to say anything to defend my mom or me? Nope. That was the last straw. I went to move the car still calmly, but shaking with anger. I moved the car and called Rob and told him what happened after I beat the hell out of the steering wheel and yelled my head off in rage. I was done. Really fricking done. I went to my boundaries class and my small group did an intervention. I replied back to the bride that we wouldn’t be coming to the wedding, after all. My mom sent me an email and ended it with, “Dad and I still love you, but you make it hard.” Wow. Have I been disrespectful? Have I been unkind? Have I not dropped everything to help over the years? I’m hard to love? Because I’m only lovable when I’m doing what you want? Saying no told me everything I needed to know. My father died less than a year later and the wake and funeral solidified for me that this was not where I belonged. These were not my people. Sometimes we are born into a family but not meant to stay. I was not meant to stay. So I left. I knew as we buried him that I would be leaving them all there, as well. I got in the car and drove away knowing there was no one to say goodbye to.

So here I am two years later holding the phone trying to call my mom. I had stayed in contact with her, but it was sporadic and strained. I struggled with her alluding to the fact that she believed that my not going to the wedding is what killed him. He had cancer. It was a wedding. I’m not owning that shit. So I’m holding the phone and I dial and panic and let it shut off before hitting send. I’m listening to a song by Martha Wainright called, “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole.” 

On repeat. 

For hours. 

bravery

I called and didn’t hit send and watched it shut off at least 50 times. The song lyrics washed over me…

“Poetry has no place for a heart that’s a whore

And I’m young and I’m strong 

But I feel old and tired

Overfired

And I’ve been poked and stoked 

It’s all smoke, there’s no more fire

Only desire

For you, whoever you are

For you, whoever you are

You may say my time here has been some sort of joke

That I’ve been messing around

Some sort of incubating period

For when I really come around

I’m cracking up

And you have no idea

No idea how it feels to be on your own

In your own home

With the fucking phone

And the mother of gloom

In your bedroom

Standing over your head

With her hand in your head

With her hand in your head

I will not pretend

I will not put on a smile

I will not say I’m all right for you 

When all I wanted was to be good

To do everything in truth 

To do everything in truth”

 I knew that if I called I wouldn’t be able to go back to pretending. I would have to tell the truth. I have never been so scared in my life. I finally hit send. She told me she wanted Molly and I to come to her house and talk. I cried as I told her that I was scared to go back. I cried as I told her that I didn’t know if I could do it. She sat silently. The last time I was there my father laid there dead. I knew what the next item on my list was going to be. 

Sometimes bravery is facing your truth.

If you enjoyed this chapter and want to dig deeper into each story, my husband Rob and I do an exclusive companion podcast on my Patreon page.  We give further background into the story and include the spouse’s perspective.  Each one of these episodes averages 45 minutes to an hour. 
 
I also share different content across my social media channels and at my blog on the website.  
 
Podcast: Broken to Brave on Libsyn
Website: BrokenToBrave.com
Facebook: @BrokentoBravePodcast
Twitter: @broken2brave

Acted in a Commercial – Number 27

I don’t act. I don’t like to be filmed. Yet here I was faced with my daughter getting asked to be in a commercial and their interest in using our whole family. Rob was happy to so he said he would just take her, but I offered to join. Me. I offered to be filmed in something people would see. Then we get there and we have to talk to this interactive woman on a screen and improvise. Molly stood there practically mute and as did Rob so I frantically tried to fill the void. Those two bastards are the actors. I’m trying to motion to them to talk, but we’re on camera and it was way too obvious. Ugh… I was brave. It got me another one for my list and I never have to do it again. Right? Sometimes bravery is taking one for the team.

Comfort, mental health

If you enjoyed this chapter and want to dig deeper into each story, my husband Rob and I do an exclusive companion podcast on my Patreon page.  We give further background into the story and include the spouse’s perspective.  Each one of these episodes averages 45 minutes to an hour. 
 
I also share different content across my social media channels and at my blog on the website.  
 
Podcast: Broken to Brave on Libsyn
Website: BrokenToBrave.com
Facebook: @BrokentoBravePodcast
Twitter: @broken2brave

Accepted Positive Personal Feedback – Number 26

Oh, boy this was a really, really hard one for me. My therapist was concerned with my inability to see that I had value and that the world was better because I was in it. I truly felt like I could die and it would have no effect. I have often felt that I was just taking up space and not really offering any value being here. She had me contact a random selection of my friends and acquaintances, to ask them how they would describe me. I had to just say thank you and could not counter back. Normally I would be self-deprecating to get the focus off me and make me less uncomfortable, which of course makes the other person feel like their opinion doesn’t matter and sad for me. So that sucks. Just say thank you. Oh, god. This was brutal. I asked one friend face to face and that was awkward and cringy. I asked Rob and Molly. I asked a various group of others through Facebook messenger or text. The replies were unbelievably kind and beautiful.

I cried. I read and reread them. I thought of all the ways they were wrong. I cried some more. I thought, “I wish I knew the person they see.” I wish I could see what they see. I realized how years of verbal abuse, throughout my childhood especially, caused me to not know myself and caused me to not be able to see the truth about who I was. I only saw what they told me. They were the voices in my head distorting my reality and so this was a way to get a new message in. This was a way to accept that my abusers didn’t know me at all. That they had their own reasons why they were cruel, but it had very little to actually do with me.

abuse, self doubt

Many of the people I asked had known me for years, had seen me go through life changing events, and had been alongside me in my marriage and raising my daughter. None of my abusers had. Why would I keep their destructive beliefs about me and discount the people who really knew me? Why were their voices so loud? Why did I continue their abuse long after they were gone out of my life? Yet, the people who I love and whose opinions I value and trust I didn’t believe when it came to this part of me. So I accepted their feedback and I worked really hard to hear it. And now I’m kind of a monster. I walk around saying, “I’m a hot bitch!” I don’t need your compliments I know I look good. Etc. My daughter said, “There’s that lack of gray area again.” Sometimes bravery is seeing yourself in a new way. 

If you enjoyed this chapter and want to dig deeper into each story, my husband Rob and I do an exclusive companion podcast on my Patreon page.  We give further background into the story and include the spouse’s perspective.  Each one of these episodes averages 45 minutes to an hour. 
 
I also share different content across my social media channels and at my blog on the website.  
 
Podcast: Broken to Brave on Libsyn
Website: BrokenToBrave.com
Facebook: @BrokentoBravePodcast
Twitter: @broken2brave

Accepted Help – Number 25

The only thing I hated more than getting paid was accepting help. I would power through anything just to show that I wasn’t weak. I would always help others and would never have thought them weak when they needed help, but I held myself to a different set of rules. Now somehow this is only a certain kind of help. I am quite helpless when something falls on the floor and I don’t want to pick it up. Or if I don’t feel like going and getting something. 

 There’s something else that gets triggered when I need help in other ways. Like if I feel it is going to put someone out that’s a no. I’ve got it. If I feel it’s something that I should carry because I’ve made a certain decision. No, I’ve got it. If it’s something that makes me feel weak or incapable…no, I’ve got it. So this one time I said yes and had to feel my feelings around that. I had to accept that I couldn’t do it all on my own and that was so very hard. I know how good helping others makes me feel and I have kept my friends from getting to experience that with me because I told them no every time they offered.

strength, encouragement, growth, perseverance

I hate when people tell me that I can’t help them! So I remembered that and sat in the feelings of inadequacy so that they could feel good and I got a little of my load taken off my shoulders. I said yes and thank you and didn’t explain how I could have done it on my own. And didn’t diminish their contribution to my life. I just said yes. It gets easier every time. And if I have to tell myself that I’m doing it for them until I forget the icky feelings it brings up then that’s ok. Whatever works in order to get through this very uncomfortable part of my growth. I’m stronger when I’m vulnerable is a mantra I need repeated all day long. Sometimes bravery is admitting you can’t do it all. I know how good helping others makes me feel and I have kept my friends from getting to experience that with me because I told them no every time they offered.

If you enjoyed this chapter and want to dig deeper into each story, my husband Rob and I do an exclusive companion podcast on my Patreon page.  We give further background into the story and include the spouse’s perspective.  Each one of these episodes averages 45 minutes to an hour. 
 
I also share different content across my social media channels and at my blog on the website.  
 
Podcast: Broken to Brave on Libsyn
Website: BrokenToBrave.com
Facebook: @BrokentoBravePodcast
Twitter: @broken2brave

Assistant Directed – Number 24

I’ve avoided most jobs that had titles. I’ve been a babysitter, nanny, baby-store employee/manager, baby-store owner, and there was that failed attempt as a clerk at Fanny Mae candy. A lot of those jobs were me as the boss so to speak. I struggle with authority. I struggle with behaving like a normal person. I struggle with expectations put on me. I panic and I get raging diarrhea and I want to quit. So offering to Assistant Direct with my name on the program shines a light on me that I am not comfortable with. It places expectations on me and I’m getting paid so I have to deliver. When I volunteer people are happy with whatever scraps I will throw at them. If they are paying me, they want me to function…like a person. I did it. 

And it was scary. But I wrote out the expectations (I did actually google what an assistant director does and made a list because that’s how I roll) and I showed Rob and said, “I can do this list.” And I did do the list and I loved it! And I didn’t fall apart and I didn’t drown in the expectations and I didn’t make Rob do all the work. I did a thing and saw it all the way through and got paid and enjoyed it. It was a Christmas miracle. Sometimes bravery is believing you can. 

If you enjoyed this chapter and want to dig deeper into each story, my husband Rob and I do an exclusive companion podcast on my Patreon page.  We give further background into the story and include the spouse’s perspective.  Each one of these episodes averages 45 minutes to an hour. 
 
I also share different content across my social media channels and at my blog on the website.  
 
Podcast: Broken to Brave on Libsyn
Website: BrokenToBrave.com
Facebook: @BrokentoBravePodcast
Twitter: @broken2brave

I Allowed Myself to Get Paid – Number 23

I have always devalued my worth. I have always given away my gifts and talents and time for free or very low cost. I was taught that you were a better person if you sacrificed. That it was noble to give freely. That there was shame in taking money. I am so glad that this was the moment that I broke through those destructive thoughts. Rob was asked to direct a staged reading of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Now normally I would help him, quietly, without a title or payment, but this time I asked him if I could assistant direct. 

He asked the person in charge and they said that he could hire an assistant director. I told him that I wanted that role and wanted to be paid for it. Once again pulling his jaw up off the floor, he was thrilled and we became an official team on paper. I finally allowed myself to get paid and dealt with the role and responsibilities that went with that role. Slowly but surely I’m healing and growing and becoming. 

 

Sometimes bravery is seeing your value. 

If you enjoyed this chapter and want to dig deeper into each story, my husband Rob and I do an exclusive companion podcast on my Patreon page.  We give further background into the story and include the spouse’s perspective.  Each one of these episodes averages 45 minutes to an hour. 
 
I also share different content across my social media channels and at my blog on the website.  
 
Podcast: Broken to Brave on Libsyn
Website: BrokenToBrave.com
Facebook: @BrokentoBravePodcast
Twitter: @broken2brave

Volunteered to be a beta for fan fiction – Number 22

Someone posted that there was going to be an X-Files fan fiction writing challenge and they needed beta’s. I didn’t actually know what a beta did except that it seemed like it was some kind of editor. I love editing so I figured that I would just put it out there that I was interested and learn as I went along. I can’t quite explain how out of character that was for me. I won’t even eat at a restaurant without knowing ahead of time what I am ordering. I don’t do anything without masters level research, yet here I was going with the flow and willing to learn as I went along?! This list was definitely having effects on me that I never expected. So I sent a message to the person coordinating the writing challenge offering to help beta. She  wrote me back and I realized that now I was really engaged. 

They didn’t end up using me to help, but that wasn’t the point. The fact that I volunteered and followed through with the sign up and responded to the messages instead of running away and/or telling them that I had made a mistake and would actually be too busy to do it after offering was a big deal. That was my usual MO. I would panic and retreat, if I even offered to begin with. This list was really breaking me out of my comfort zone. Even though I was in control, it felt the opposite. My heart and brain were working against my fear and ego and my heart and brain were winning. Sometimes bravery is sharing your gifts.



If you enjoyed this chapter and want to dig deeper into each story, my husband Rob and I do an exclusive companion podcast on my Patreon page.  We give further background into the story and include the spouse’s perspective.  Each one of these episodes averages 45 minutes to an hour. 

I also share different content across my social media channels and at my blog on the website.  

Podcast: Broken to Brave on Libsyn
Website: BrokenToBrave.com
Facebook: @BrokentoBravePodcast
Twitter: @broken2brave

Connected With My Fandom on Tumblr – Number 21

   I have been a mostly closeted fan of The X-Files since 1993 only outing myself a few months prior to this addition to my list. I read a lot of fan fiction and had never commented and I sure as hell would never have added to the noise by creating my own stuff. I just lurked. 

   Because of the relentless mockery I endured, I was afraid to show any sign that I enjoyed something that was not aligned with what my family thought was acceptable or “normal.” Their desire to steal my joy kept me paralyzed and afraid to stand out.   In order to push through that fear, I decided to join Tumblr and gave myself an X-Files related username (well, actually Molly did), and I started following random blogs. And then I got brave enough to like things and comment and, even though it takes a while to be noticed, I put myself out there in a way that I never thought myself capable of before.

   The fandom was so welcoming and it felt good to give back to a community who had helped me weather through so many times in my adult life where I needed some escape or distraction. Please don’t hold back what makes you light up. And don’t let others insecurities make you live a small life. Life is too short. Love what you love and let that light shine bright.

Sometimes bravery is becoming a joiner. 



If you enjoyed this chapter and want to dig deeper into each story, my husband Rob and I do an exclusive companion podcast on my Patreon page.  We give further background into the story and include the spouse’s perspective.  Each one of these episodes averages 45 minutes to an hour. 

I also share different content across my social media channels and at my blog on the website.
 
Podcast: Broken to Brave on Libsyn
Website: BrokenToBrave.com
Facebook: @BrokentoBravePodcast
Twitter: @broken2brave

Volunteered To Get Interviewed On a Podcast About Music That Is Important To Me – Number 20

   Well, this is significant in many ways. First of all, I don’t volunteer to do things. Secondly, it’s personal. Thirdly, I don’t volunteer to do things. The way the show works is that someone picks a song from each decade they were alive in. There are no rules regarding how to pick your songs and no specific criteria…just as long as there’s one from each decade you’ve been alive. I was born in 1968 so I started with a song from the 60’s. I didn’t set out with a theme in mind when I picked my songs, it just sort of happened. The first song was Sweet Thing by Van Morrison. I picked this one because it describes a little bit about how I feel about Rob. My second song was Kooks by David Bowie for the 1970’s. This one was about parenting Molly. Are you starting to see the pattern? The song I chose from the 1980’s was Peter Gabriel’s Don’t Give Up. I chose this song because it encompassed my teenage years and I shared on the podcast how I survived those difficult years. My next song was Tonight Tonight by Smashing Pumpkins for the 1990’s. It represents our move to Minneapolis and I describe what was so significant about that time. 

   Next up was the 2000’s and the song Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole by Martha Wainwright. This was about my desire to live in truth and my break from my family of origin. The last song I chose was Brave by Sara Bareilles for the 2010’s. I was knee deep in my list at this point and this song said it all. With list in hand, I skyped with Jesse and Terry. I shared a lot. We went deep.  We laughed, we even cried a little. It was supposed to be an hour…it was not. They had to split mine into two episodes. I’m a podcaster. I like to talk. What can I say? 

Martha Wainwright Quote #1

   It was very healing for me and fun and holy crap people were going to hear this what have I done?! I talked about my list, too. So there’s that. This was the precursor to this project. This was the first time I really talked about my list in detail. I was only on number 20 when I volunteered to be on the podcast and a little further in by the time I guested on it so still very far from having the confidence I have now, but much braver than when I started at number 1. This was me full on. This was me flayed open and honest. This was me learning how to do this. Sometimes bravery is being vulnerable.











If you enjoyed this chapter and want to dig deeper into each story, my husband Rob and I do an exclusive companion podcast on my Patreon page.  We give further background into the story and include the spouse’s perspective.  Each one of these episodes averages 45 minutes to an hour.  I also share different content across my social media channels and at my blog on the website.   Podcast: Broken to Brave on LibsynWebsite: BrokenToBrave.comFacebook: @BrokentoBravePodcastTwitter: @broken2brave

Got Therapy – Number 19

   I started having flashbacks. Upsetting glimpses of something I couldn’t get a handle on. There are a lot of traumas that I have endured in my life so to think that there is something I’ve hidden away that might be worse is quite unsettling. I had a doctor once who was helping me with various mysterious health problems. He told me that my body was holding onto something and that at night before I go to sleep to ask myself to show me in my dream. I would then get up the next day and write out whatever I remembered from my dreams and Rob and I would analyze them. We had a backlog so one night he suggested we work on some. We started on one that took place in a hotel and as he asked me questions about the various parts of the dream, he said, “What happened in the room on the first floor?” I. Freaked. Out. I cried hysterically and shouted,”Nothing happened in that room!! Don’t you ever say that!! Nothing happened!! Nothing happened!!” And I sobbed. Yeah, that had never happened to me before. It was so shocking. I’ve known for a while that there was something that I’ve blocked. It’s been 18 years since then and I’m starting to get flashes of things and it’s unsettling. I was talking to one of my best friends about it and she immediately told me that I need a therapist. This is not something that anyone should try to maneuver on their own. We had no insurance at the time and very little income as we were still building our company. She contacted her friend who is a therapist and asked if she could help me. The therapist had a sliding scale and my friend paid for the first month of appointments. 

 

    I went and it was quite obvious that I had a lifetime of various traumas that had never been dealt with. I described being molested and raped like I was reading my grocery list. “Have you ever felt any of the feelings around these events?” the therapist asked. Ummm…hell no. Why would I do that?! I’ve spent my life trying not to feel it. This was not going to be easy, or pretty. My last attempt at therapy was spent with the therapist just getting me to do the most basic self care. We never even touched on the trauma so this was a first for me.

   Therapy is hard. Really hard. It sucks to dig through painful experiences. I had done so much work over the years and felt like I was starting over. I felt so hopeless, at first. I felt like I would never be free and my abusers were off living their lives and I was left to repair the damage they caused. When do I get to live? Will I ever be whole? It took me several months before I could see progress. The work I had done on my own was important and it did matter and it did help. I just needed an objective outsider who is trained in dealing with developmental trauma and complex PTSD to help me process further. I could only go so far with a book on my own. The books are still valuable and I still use them, but sometimes bravery is knowing when you can’t do it alone.



If you enjoyed this chapter and want to dig deeper into each story, my husband Rob and I do an exclusive companion podcast on my Patreon page.  We give further background into the story and include the spouse’s perspective.  Each one of these episodes averages 45 minutes to an hour.  I also share different content across my social media channels and at my blog on the website.   Podcast: Broken to Brave on LibsynWebsite: BrokenToBrave.comFacebook: @BrokentoBravePodcastTwitter: @broken2brave