Swimming Sweater


The end of 2017 will be arriving within hours of the present moment, and I am going to release the year in one large breath. Whoosh, a lifetime of paradigms have passed and 2018 holds a special place in our future, because now I understand.

I am sitting here in a sweater that is 3x too large for my frame. My mother picked it out for me. My mother, standing at the tallest 4’11 one could ever imagine, believed in hiding one’s body from public. From a young age, I have been swimming in clothes, fearful that someone may notice that I am fat, or that I am endowed on top, and as an adult I am still wearing the garments that hide me, the ole ‘swimming sweater’. I have been holding my breath so as to not take up too much space.  I have hidden away from the world because my mother told me I should. While she does not reside in my life, she still resides inside my brain and my habits. These habits are being left behind this year, in 2017. They are no longer necessary for my survival.

2 months ago, my daughter’s fiance assaulted her, with their newborn baby in her arms. I did not know until I saw the jail roster, and I requested public records of the police report. Her fiance had asked her repeatedly to drop the charges, and eventually she did recant her statement. He plead guilty to witness tampering and is serving 6 months in the county jail, with a release date of February 2018. My daughter became very angry with me for telling my mom (whom she resides with at 19 years of age, with her baby) and my mom turned the tables and told her to avoid me. This is not the first time, my mom has hired a lawyer once a year to have my rights terminated for things such as trying to move out of town, for trying to ground my daughter for her most recent exploits, while enabling my daughter to crash her new car twice and any other financial means demanded as the first grandchild. I was a single mother for most of my kid’s lives and my mom always believed this marked me for life as a bad seed. She would explain my tattoos to people saying “She looks terrible, but she’s really nice.”

She is entitled to her opinion. Her opinion states; “Your hair looks really good now that it is longer, but geez you speak just like your aunt. I cannot stand it.”  My two favorites are “She didn’t really have cancer, she just wanted attention” and “I guess now that you have a degree you’re all smarty-pants and too good for us.”  Her opinion of how unlovable I am is absolutely her opinion.

This goes deeper, of course, and when we arrived in court 4 days before Christmas the judge stated “This issue goes back decades” and looked directly at my mom. He was right. Almost 4 decades have passed, and while I believe my mom once loved me, I now believe she has detached.  Thankfully, I save all my texts from family because of past ordeals, and those printed texts disproved what my mom had to say about me in a court of law.  My daughter, whose fiance was in the same building in the jail, was upset that I had called CPS about her Domestic Violence issue. She wants to stay with him, run away to Oregon when he is released, and believes that they will rekindle and no violence will be had. I have nightmares that he cuts off her head and sends me a photo. You can imagine my guts turned to mush when he texted me (I do not know how he got my number) a little pseudo threat the day after he asked her to marry him and she said yes. Fast forward to present day and my daughter has taken my mom’s attitude of projecting her anger on me with my mom’s backing. Standing in court and listening to them embarrass themselves was hard to witness. I had not called CPS, just to be clear, the police had marked the box for CPS involvement at the time of the incident.  I understand though, and I send them a little thought every morning out of love asking them to please love themselves today.

My mom was brought up in an abusive home, removed into foster care, abused, and felt small her entire life. My father did not have an easy life growing up, and also practices a level of detachment that makes me sad for all of us. I see my habits mirror that detachment, and I feel ashamed.

I had an epiphany at work, around hour 72, after a particularly hard evening with my client. My client has 24 hour care, speaks in her native tongue of German when confused, and she was frustrated at the end of life happenings that we all take for granted, i.e.:  standing from a sitting position.  I had barely slept the last few days with her, and I was in amazement at the calm I felt even though I was exhausted. I sat beside her bed and she reached out her hand to find mine. We sat like this for about half an hour. This beautiful woman was showing me something. She was not letting me detach, she needed love and I was able to provide it quietly. A few hours later, she awoke again, and still I felt calm and motherly. Her head was hurting, so I sat at the top of her bed and brushed her hair aside with my fingers, the same gesture I used to give to my daughters when they were younger, as she fell back asleep.  I came home in wonder, slept 11 hours, took a bath, and realized a major issue in my life.

When I come home and I am tired, I tend to be short with my family.  The home has become a place to be my true self, and I evaluated why I am two different people, the one at home and the one at work. What if I showed that same care to my family, that same respect and loving gestures and patience that I possess while at work.  Why is home scary?  Why do I feel like I need to be distant to the ones I love?

I went home and I spent the entire break with my family as though I was at work with the comforts of home. My household was happy. We did not have any disagreements, and we even went shopping together (the true test of my patience; going to the mall.) I understand that my other family had taught me a bad habit of protecting myself from them. This present family does not wish to hurt me, so I no longer need to protect myself.

As a court room observer and participant, I was blessed with the gift of sight. While standing in front of a judge defending my honor and credibility, I felt like I left my body and was watching the entire scene from an objective viewpoint. Every accusation was met with my evidence of being a loving mother, and as I walked out of the court room, a young woman looked up at me and shook her head and whispered “I’m so sorry.” At that moment, I returned to my body, tears welled up and I felt a sob coming on.  My husband and my close friend escorted me to the car. My mom and daughter drove away angry, complaining loudly that the judge was mean to them, and I got into our car feeling relief.  I am loved here, I thought, I am supported.

I do not want to waste another moment of my life hating myself, and I certainly do not hate my daughter and my mom. I understand their hatred, and I wish they saw the good inside them that I see. But I will not bear witness to another charade. 2018 is the year for my present family and community.  My husband needs my love, my daughter at home needs my praise for all the “doing right” that she does and my love surrounding her like an interdependent support system as she matures into a young woman, and my friends need me to philosophize and psychology analyze our lives in order to be the best true self that we can be. And I need them.  I need you.

New Year’s Eve 2017, we were living in a home with a broken toilet pipe that made us sick and led to a lawsuit against our landlords, in which we won 6 months later. I lost my job.  We became homeless for 8 months. My youngest daughter stayed with her dad for the summer, and I missed her terribly but am also so very thankful that her dad was 100% there for her and us. Carlton faced off with his father about past abuse. I faced my mom in court. This year was for the birds. The coming year see’s us in a great house, with incredible jobs, and a happy family with no strings attached.

No more giant sweaters. Only breath; sweet beautiful oxygen and love.

Happy New Year Crowing Lovers. May the year bring only the best to all of you as well.

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