“So you’ve established your mom is a bad person,” Bonnie said. “So now what, what do you want?”
I just sat there in her air conditioned office, what did I want? Why was Bonnie being such a bitch? She knew how wrecked I was. How I’d been hurt, physically, emotionally and spiritually. What the fuck, isn’t she on my side?
“Um, I don’t know. I mean I wish she could see…”
“That isn’t going to happen, this isn’t about her, this is about you. What is it that you want? What will make it so that you can wake up every morning and feel joy, be happy and love yourself?”
She was an old hippie with piercing blue eyes, living in hick country and trying to help heal families affected by addiction and abuse. She wore Birkenstocks with grey socks and her button-up blouse tucked into her mom jeans. She had a wavy silver mullet, and oh my god, she was pissing me off…
“Well, I guess I would like her to at least say she…”
“Stop. No. This isn’t about getting your mom to think like you or be who you want her to. We don’t have any control over her. What do you have control over right now?” She emphasized the word right.
“Me.” I said, except it was the mousiest, question sounding, statement I’d ever made.
“Exactly.” She said. “So what now, what will it take for you to wake up everyday and be enough. Feel joy?”
“Jeez, seriously?” I couldn’t help it, I know right then, I rolled my eyes.
“This isn’t a joke, I want you to tell me. Identify it now so we can start getting past all this bullshit about your life being fucked up because of someone else.”
“Wow, you’re not supposed to talk like that are you?” I was not that shocked actually, mostly just hoping to gain some ground in this debate.
“Answer the question,” she said, “I’m done bullshitting with you. You’re 17. I’ve been seeing you for ten months. At some point the only person who is going to make you whole is who?”
“Me.” I said, less mousy.
“Yeah, and the only one who is going to make you wake up happy?”
“Me. Again.” Resisting urge to roll my eyes.
“So if you aren’t happy right now? Who’s fault is that?” She was killing me.
An audible sigh slipped out of my mouth.
“I guess you want me to say ME.” I said.
“Do you want a relationship with your mother?” She asked.
“Well, only if she…”
“No. Do. You. Want. A. Relationship. With. Your. Mother?”
“No.” I said. “Not like this. Not if it’s going to be like this.”
“Ok. Was that so hard?” She said.
I wanted to answer. The words flooded me, were gushing to my mouth and my ears and finally escaping through my eyes. Tears fell and I was mad and sad and helpless…and empowered… all at the same time. I’d spent months being forced to go to an AA group, [or 12 step program]. I’d been forced to go to counseling once a week, in a group and once a week in private in addition to the AA. I’d felt like none of it was my fault. Listened in groups only to add more logs to the Bon fire of blame. To find words to use in my argument, the voices in my head.
There was a villain. Someone could have fanned the fires of my loathing with a whisper. Bonnie was my counselor. I had been handed to her as a “juvenile at risk” after my mom kicked me out of the house.
As an adult I realize that day was the turning point. It was then that I decided to not keep the old relationship with my evil mom. It was also at that moment that I realized I could still build a new one. I didn’t need to feed old grudges, harbor feelings of anger or need her to be shamed. She had to live with enough of her own regrets. Most importantly I began to grasp that I have control over how I let people treat me. That there doesn’t always have to be a right and wrong just an understanding of what each person can tolerate or will tolerate.
For my part, I also realized that by not letting go and starting over, (or not start over) that I was part of the dance. Cranking the gears, as hard as I could, to go through the same dance steps over and over with no new moves, no new results.
I shared this story tonight about a 17 year old girl, who had a perception of being abused in someway, wounded I guess. It’s not for us to judge, this was her story. I feel connected to her story. I see how sometimes I get stuck trying to make sure I’m right and that everyone knows it, when the truth is my reality, and what I do with it, only matters to me. That what I choose to do, primarily, is what effects my ability to be happy and to be present in my dreams and hopes for this day. I wonder if it will mean anything to anyone else. Hope that I reached one person who’s holding onto something, seeing how it poisons their days and their love and that maybe they are ready to throw it away and start over.
For everyone else, I will go back to romantic poems and funny stories tomorrow! XO