Context: Mom and me 4/4
P S S S T ! 4/4
from The Being Years
© kendall crouther
Interacting with Mom in exposes me to caustic gamma rays.
Developing children are appropriately inappropriately skilled to recognize, verbalize and self-advocate against such conduct. So we children learn to adapt. We will explore expressions of our hurt until finding one, two, then a few, then many, then several that consistently allow Mom to identify my needs and respond. Let me explain. In response, Mom will either meet the need to demonstrate her great power or spur a new behavior so I can meet my own need, because my need is unreal and not another person’s problem. Embodying her shame became the foundation for every solution. I stood only at her mercy. I grew without adequate nutrition starved when adequate nutrition was accessible beat my brain into memorizing the right amount of information until the right moments to earn 93 over 100 isolated from needed medical care overdosed learning to use pain medication for weekly migraines threw up then went downstairs to feed my brother endured assault to protect her name. Sobbed in closet doors, wrote and weekly updated a will, feared kitchen knives, slept-walked then woke by hallway stairs. Learned to be White begged the angels at night to send Elisha and His horses to sweep me into eternity. My life was a sick, daily broadcast called “Little Bird today.”
It’s Like NPR. But worse. MORNING EDITION:
Little Bird’s need for others shows up unconsciously. You see her: Beautiful and bright but hurting somehow. You know because she shies from closeness in new relationships. She’s judgmental. Shallow. Focuses on others' small imperfections. Picks fights. Builds cases to justify resisting human connection. She fears conflict because conflict is unsafe because is painful and pain is a punishment for her inherent lack of worth and evil nature. Self-perfection is unattainable, but she will keep soiling her own beauty with tarred-dipped feathers.
Her Inner-Circle can see beyond those actions and identify her overwhelming fear. She withdraws from them whenever anticipating separation or loss. She is scared of their real and perceived slights, attacks and threats. And on the other hand, she is tremendously self-ingratiating:
- belittling herself
- compromising her character
- doing anything to prevent her real or inaccurately perceived abandonment.
She is hot and cold. Suspicious and untrusting. Clingy and then very desperate.
Regardless of whether Little Bird is operating in an avoidant or dependent headspace, she is so tarred by wicked, black shame that she cannot fly. She will then begin to seeking support indirectly with an even more fervent desperation even she did not think was possible. She is doing this because Little Bird just cannot assume anymore of cement’s mechanical stench, so she hints, complains, sulks or whines to self-parent. That way, if she hears “No,” she can tell herself she never technically asked, so it wasn’t rejection. She repeats that rationale until she has unsuccessfully convinced herself. Little Bird also avoids relationship themed conversations.
Fear drives a deep obsession with ensuring her needs and wants are satisfied beyond capacity because she is sickeningly familiar with living beneath her needs. She literally cannot regard others’ wellbeing. It is not because she does not love them. It’s because she is so tied up working to find self-love. Little Bird finds immense difficulty disclosing her genuine Self because she does not know her genuine Self because she has never shaken hands with geniality. She often appears confident, secure, positive and proud but inside, she is not. She is compensating for internal cynicism and self-loathing. She can ignore Mom’s hateful sayings when others validate her identity. So she clings to Inner-Circle. And though she knows better than to rely on others, because it is only continuing this sickening cycle, she cannot do better. Works-based love theology strangles her DNA.
Inevitably, those who love her let her down, because they are only human. When they do, she becomes outrageously resentful, jealous and volatile, because it means others have invalidated or seem to have invalidated her sense of worth… BUT… Yet again, she cannot think about what is fair in balanced relationships.
She believes others’ disappointment in her is a direct consequence of her emerging from her mom’s womb with a failed character. Others’ disapproval is expected. Any mistreatment anything unfair to her at all is actually fair. So she cannot focus on legitimate fairness because she cannot imagine the intense pain that will come from experiencing hurt, because it will trigger her remembering and re-experiencing the trauma of losing mom’s love. She resolves to suppress her emotions, just one more time, and take on suppression’s consequences. (This will be the last time because she will do better to be perfect next time – no problem.)
Then, with that exact cliffhanger, NPR will break. The story picks back up that evening on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED: We are back. This is “All Things Considered” we’re breaking paused silence to continue the story of the Little Bird who could not.
Little Bird’s pain builds until anger or sadness bursts into large, loud fits. But it’s actually more complicated and very ironic. She acts out with safe people because authenticity exists in safety; safe people are her refuge.
They become scapegoats. A disaster occurs. It hurts them. Note: After the disaster. Little Bird is unlike Mom: not malignantly destructive, cannot predict falls, says and actually means, “I’m sorry,” owns her wrong, identifies immediate supports to prevent repeating misfortune… but that cycle is harmfully maladaptive, meaning it worked to please mom, but is cannot sustain healthy relationships. They are equally taxing to Inner-Circle, despite their understanding her behavior intends a love each party deserves. But people are people, they can only take so much, they set boundaries, she’s caused the abandonment she feared.
Its origin is Mom’s inconsistent love-hate; the “I AM UNWORTHY” gospel from formative years that birthed the self-ingratiation, the acting out as talking, tantrums as pleas, exploited offerings for inadequacy, but at least some care. Passivity blocked abuse. Zoning out with dissociative spells shielded feeling. This self-preservation is an exhaustive, hyper-vigilant obsession with controlling environments. She could not predict hits, but Orphan Body grew to notice miniscule environmental shifts for red flags to retreat. If she can just do what mom says, mom will love her. When she fails, she’s withdrawn enough to delay feeling wrath.
Mom is more calculative than Little Bird – why she always wins. She knows what shuffles the cycle and cues the shuffling. (It is clear to me only now: That is not a gospel but THE SHAME CYCLE.)
Let us get very clear: Mom is fully cognoscente of the confused attachment pattern, knowing its example sets Little Bird’s lifelong social interactions. She uses fear to create situations, lethal if needed; She needs Little Bird to need her.
Mom knows to be overprotective when Little Bird cannot receive her care and far away when Little Bird suffers most. Mom nests in Little Bird’s being to soothe insecurity. She fiercely covets Little Bird’s feathers, innocent songs and faith in humanity. Mom oversteps her bounds, using triangles tied to puppet strings tied to bird’s flight patterns.”
SO HERE DIES LITTLE BIRD:
There has never been and will never a better Pinocchio.
I am predestined to flight, but never will I soar.
Her womb is so disturbingly powerful that I confuse
tar with pixie dust
cement with the sky
dictatorship with freedom
praise with petrification
and success with my dying heart.
I am a public spectacle – a fool.
I’m responsible for myself and for other people
rather than for myself and to other people.
I till the soil
plant the seeds
calculate the rain
and order the sun’s photosynthesis.
If a pattern seems promising,
I church full speed ahead,
enacting each step in exact order.
I will not rest until it is done.
But when the weeds grow,
to stomach my shame,
it is mom’s mercy which stretched forth through the dark clouds,
clouds I irresponsibly formed with a firm rebellious flame,
mom’s mercy that strengthened our roots.
Mom alone is godly enough
to make what I never will not.
I am inconceivably incompetent,
I am absurdly unaware,
I have stifled our beauty,
it is my own fault I am scared.
When it storms, I conceived the storm.
When it floods, I push the mudslides.
Waterfalls damn the city.
Tornadoes stir the pot.
Mom is narcissistic,
in her I do not care.
Sometimes I am important.
Sometimes is dismissive, intrusive, insensitive and unavailable.
Mondays I might be picked up for piano,
I might wait on the doorstep in shame.
In worship, I am beautiful.
In traffic, I cannot escape size six.
I am the youngest to walk for my Master’s,
but under the stage I am a slave.
The intriguing plotlines ebb and flow,
divide and multiply,
take minds of their own,
exponentially increase then slam backwards,
find me rightly unclear.
I am her self-actualization.
In my spirit she will always claim near.
Other happenings contributed wrecked my wellness.
But after six years of care,
eight of those hospitalized
and still now fretfully unworthy,
I cannot ignore the blatant fact Mom and I are enmeshed. Enmeshment terrorizes my wellbeing.
I cannot continue thinking I do not deserve good things.
I have the insight loving her and crucifying myself is unacceptable. Forgiveness is certain
but relationship is not.
It is out of the question so long as Mom overwhelms my thoughts: “I AM UNWORTHY” fuck out of here.
You reemerge in our every interaction,
it is not my fault, my choice, my responsibility
I know better, so I do better.
I fear you but what haunts me more is what could happen if I begin to believe you again.
My health my needs my work their love is only a lie unless I am apart from you unless I will fly as I can
I will never be safe until your works-based self-image is finally separated from me… until it is deconstructed and reconstructed with the unadulterated, unconditionally connection I deserve and my other moms have given me.
When my mommas gave me their heart,
it meant they will always love me.
And so it is with me: I will never latch in faith and truth that I am valuable, can receive and extend kindness, use bold coping skills, and uproot my disorder until it is totally gone. So go tell my mommas, my team, they are right. I am not the dog who licks its own vomit and eats its own shit. I will separate.