As we get older it seems easier and easier to get wrapped up in all the anxieties that this world brings into our lives, be it work, unhealthy habits or even love and friendship.
This summer I came across this photo of myself overwhelmed with excitement to have received my passport in the mail before my travels to Thailand in 2012. Sadly, I didn’t recognize the girl in the picture. She was a young, carefree, optimistic version of me that I seem to have lost.
I struggle with recycled habits I grew up with. We all have them. Negative inheritances we get from our parents. Whether it’s a goofy neurosis or something as physical as depression, these traits are constantly challenging us to rise above. For me, my relationship to my biological mother and the examples she set for me in my early childhood occasionally sneak past my defense systems and start to deeply affect my life and life choices
This self awareness didn’t come easily but now that it’s here I know I can fight back - and that’s what I’m doing on this journey. I’m taking this road trip to find my voice again.
In my earliest recollections my biological mother was very young, beautiful and full of light. But when I look at old photos of her they barely pierce my teenage memories. In the beginning, the house was always clean. I remember being held and cuddled a lot. She tried hard to be the mother she wanted to be. Growing up, Damon and I would make cookies with her, dinner was always set on the table, and I even have a picture of us where she made all three of our Halloween costumes, including her own, by hand.
I am the keeper of most of our family photos, a barter I made with her after watching one too many storage units default and the belongings of our youth dwindle to nearly nothing.
As time went on she sank deep inside herself, passively taking on all the household chores and demands of my father, following in the footsteps of women and generational biases that preceded her. Her identity was lost in a depressive spiral of submission before it fell into the hands of drugs. I think people forget, myself included, that most addicts self medicate to cover up their unmanageable pain.
I have spent the last 12 years trying to find peace with my biological parents. It’s exhausting to carry hatred and resentment around in your heart. It’s like dragging a bag of rocks alongside you on hot summer day. They just collect all this grime and dust from the street making it twice as hard for us to clean ourselves off.
As you get older, you start realize that people are just human, and more importantly that our parents are just human.They too, have a past and make mistakes. Like them, we each have our own stories that define us in ways we aren’t always able to understand or acknowledge.
I try to understand. I try to remember that her damage started to define her, and has defined me in ways. I try to remember that she inherited her own demons long before I came along. I try to find peace in compassion.
However, it has left me battling a subconscious woman inside me. One with no faith in herself, no voice -- someone with a deeply seeded fear of being disposable. The fear of being left lingers when you lose your parents at the hands of their own actions. Those fears and inherited behaviors surface in a passive complacency in my relationships with others.
When I found that photo, and started doing things as a single woman, I realized I had lost myself in another person -- a couple different people actually, if I’m being honest. I had buried my voice under a pile of fear and anxiety. The worst was knowing that while I could blame others for being over bearing, I knew there were times where I volunteered to be complacent and passive.