Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Resiliency Day

Mother's Day came with a sense of heaviness. The usual feeling of not belonging with those who celebrate their mothers nor with those grieving mothers who have died. Instead there's this reminder of mothering that nurtured and fostered growth.

CK, estranged again from her Mother, felt grumpy she realized in the afternoon. I had her go through a box of clothing, none of which fit anymore which reminded her of how active she was a decade ago, before her lungs stopped worked as well. Then we talked some move logistics. All that, and Mother's Day, was hard.

We got through it and took care of each other. I forgot to order flowers earlier, then tried to get them delivered yesterday so they'd be there when I got home from therapy, but don't complete the order. Friday they're coming too remind us both what God job we've done raising ourselves.

As of today we're vaccinated and past the waiting week. I'll continue to mask, only I'll allow myself cloth masks instead of my respirator.



Same calendula today. Taken during a break in the rain.

A friend is dealing with complex rental issues and asked about moving and school districts online. They're from another country and were surprised at the way a move disrupts schooling and how you have to plan moves around it.

Well, that's why summer parents think about it.

My Mother was never satisfied. Once she got to something she wanted she'd immediately start in on all the things that were not living up to her expectations. She also burned bridges often. Usually all of this would result in us moving to a new place that would fix everything.

Between first grade, age 6, and graduation, age 17, of attend 17 schools. There's a couple middle-to-high-school transitions in there, but even with that it represents 15 moves. We also moved repeatedly before age 6 and experienced a period of homelessness when we sheltered with my Mother's sister.

Another friend shared thier high count. We comiserated over being asked if we're from a military family and having to respond with, essentially, "No I had a terrible childhood."

The original friend noted they were sorry I'd gone through that, it sounded exhausting.

"Yes!", I thought. Life with my Mother was exhausting. She was an energy vampire. Years after her death I’m still remembering new, terrible things and still resting to recover all the energy she stole from me.

All this is so heavy, when you layer on the pandemic it explains why I have days like today where my body feels like I’m made of rocks.



For most people the word mother has pleasant associations. Mothering is a special kind of nurturing, "a mother's touch" confers special care.

Unless it didn't.

I realize that my Mother was good at what I've taken to calling "Performative Mothering". When they're was an audience to see how good she was, she left there impression of being a good mother. She'd terrorize me where no one would see and when they were watching she'd shine.

I said to my therapist it feels like she was setting me up to be gaslight by everyone. "Your Mom's great!" I so often heard from friends.

If CK finally hadn't witnessed the mental/emotional abuse going on I'm not sure I'd be able to articulate it. It feels like that was there key to unlocking the secrecy.

Day 60 of sheltering-in place.


Eighty Thousand

While the rate seems to be slowing, the ever rising number leaves me breathless with despair.

The rest of this is about therapy and alludes heavily to child abuse.


Therapy was hard. I brought up how I'd thought of the Childhood Logic that last year I'd found lurking within me last year around this time. The lie I'd told myself because the truth that I was terrified of my Mother was too awful.

The closer I get to integrating this memory, the easier it is to notice when I’m searching for proof that something was wrong with me, that it was my fault. I was a terrible child with a good Mother. This is the false logic that hides the awful truth; she was cruel.

The drive to make my Mother good is so strong. My therapist brought it to my attention again today when I said my Mother was "out of control" in the memory I'm integrating.

While it absolutely felt that way to my four year old self, my therapist pointed out how in control my Mother really was. How she had a pattern of getting me alone so she could abuse me without any witnesses. It only felt out of control because she wanted me to feel that way.



It’s been Mother’s Day today and a nice benefit of physical distancing is the lack of exposure to all the usual merchandise blitz.

I didn't have a meltdown today. I am grateful.

I planted Atomic Red carrots, encouraged the sugar snap peas up the trellis, appreciated the flowers, used both video games & yoga for soothing, did chores, and made us food.

So many meals made! I’ve never cooked so much! I’ve also never gone for such a long stretch without take-out, fast food, or restaurants. I find myself thinking about supply chains and what winter will look like.

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Smoke and Mirrors

I’m realizing more and more how childhood logic created my belief that I’m utterly toxic. It explained why people left, it explained why my Mother hurt me, and keeping it propped up was less painful than confronting the feeling that I’m worthless.

This logic comes up when I find myself walking through my Mother’s last years of her life. I catch myself in the act of noting all the ways I failed to heal her. I notice that I’m sure I hastened her death.

My “core of toxic danger” is a smoke screen. Something easier to work with since I get to just blamed myself. Accepting I have this deep chasm of worthlessness is so painful that of rather be blaming myself for her death than accept that her abuse told me again and again I was worthless.

The more I keep going into it, the more clearly I see that the core message of my early childhood was that I was worthless, or, as as my Mother was fond of saying*, “You’re more trouble than you’re worth!”

*If called on saying things like this, my Mother, and other family members would reply, “I’m joking! Don’t be so sensitive, can’t you take a joke?!”


Transient Beauty

All the pink faded from the apple blossoms and they were starting to wither away. Today the rain returned, I'm sure it will knock these last petals off.

Transient beauty.
Spring's blossoms fade so quickly.
Delicate as hope.

We spent the day playing games. CK asked if I wanted to get Animal Crossing a few weeks ago. It is pretty expensive, to my mind, and I was reluctant. I worried I'd get it and not really get into it and waste the money.

How I see myself as worthy of a $60 game is directly related to trauma therapy.

Homelessness at age 4 where you are repeatedly shamed by your family while you shelter with them leaves traces. That it coincides with signification abuse from my Mother, instead of loving support, makes it complicated to admit to my wife I want her to buy a game, and online subscription, while I'm not working.

The results of my scary game purchase? I played nearly uninterrupted for four hours today! It's really a sweet, kind way to just rest.

It was rainy and chilly after several Sunny warm days. Sitting on the sofa with the dogs and Obie playing a sweet game really was a blessing.


Terrible Lessons

I am working out this week's therapy session. Feel free to skip this. The poem is here at the top!

A COVID19 Haiku today in honor of my trip to Trader Joe’s.

Tie top and bottom.
Open to cover the face.
Terrible lessons.

🎋 🐚 🎋

🎋 🐚 🎋

⚠️ Content Warning ⚠️
⚠️ Child Abuse ⚠️

Terrible Lessons I Learned by Age Four

No one is on my side. No one. No one is listening either.

Advocating for myself is dangerous. No one cares about my needs or my bodily autonomy.

I am only valuable when I'm soothing my Mother.

My anger, if seen, is dangerous. Clench your jaw and hide it even if it feels like your head will explode.

Many questions after just spoken aloud for dramatic effect. Don't answer. Clenching jaw helps.

Be invisible, be small. Be quiet when you can stand it.

Always go when your Mother calls you to her, no matter how terrifying she sounds, even if you know she will hurt you. If you make her get you it is only worse.

Don't resist. Open defiance energizes her. Meekness saps her strength.

Then she will let you go outside to play.

If you run fast enough away she can't hear you scream how much you hate her, hate them all.

Get back on time.


Not All Flowers

In my SAFE sessions I’ve developed a pattern that’s helpful; a kind of signal in the processing that I’m more in control of the memory. This also indicates I’m getting closer to installing it.

Today I got to that point with the current memoryI'm integrating. I start to step outside, seeing it instead of experiencing it directly. Then I can run it forwards and backwards, like a film. Like the most terrible home movie collection ever.

So I'm glad. I also have some ugly truths about my Mother to integrate. It was a good therapy session.

These dogwood bloom right breast my therapist's office. She's moving and next session it will be a whole new neighborhood. I'm happy I got to appreciate these today.

Dogwood bracht unfold.
Not all flowers have petals.
Tiny blooms revealed.


Thirty Days

Today I've been actively practicing isolation and physical distancing with CK at home for 30 days. I miss my routine. It is Easter, I'd likely have made the effort to go to church.

Apparently Day 30 is the day when the boiling rage I felt last night condenses into a terrible case of the mopes. All the fear and anger about COVID19 meeting head-on with 7 year-old grief and unresolved feelings of being a bad friend plus a generous helping of rage towards my Mother and family of origin.

It made for an uncomfortable morning where it felt like everything set tears to falling. I ended up drinking tea and playing video games for a while before tackling some chores.

While I'm not feeling simmering rage or weepy mopes, I do feel worn out by the mix of feelings over the past few days. Despite the angry kitty letting me sleep in until nearly 9am, I feel as though I didn't get any extra rest at all. The heightened hypervigilance that's part of the energy of COVID19 for me, is really exhausting.

There is still a double-whammy effect whenever IK's death anniversary comes up. I get the grief, shame, hopelessness, and anger I felt at that time. Along with it comes up the anger, shock, disgust, and despair I felt at my Mother's response to the effort we put in to arranging the memorial service (CK), packing up his apartment (me), contacting his family (both of us). She was jealous of the energy and love we were giving our friend who had just committed suicide.

Up until IK's death my Mother had been the center of attention. When we got the news, we jumped into action with a few other close friends to do the work that needed doing. My Mother pestered me on multiple occasions, asking why we, I, had to help. Why wasn't IK's family doing the things we were. Once we found IK's parents, why didn't we just step back and let family take care of everything. Family should be cleaning up the apartment. Family do the memorial service, why are you, just friends doing this?

I was, in the midst of the shock and terrible grief for our friend, horrified and ashamed of my Mother's petty, selfish behavior. It felt like everything we'd worked on to help her, to improve her health, and build a life around taking care of her unraveled at this point. She realized that our attention could be diverted away from her, she took every little dissatisfaction and she blew them up, she began really bullying me again.

Given that I was already processing a great deal of anger at my Mother for terrorizing me so throughly as a very young child that I never questioned her as an adult, this year it has all hit me extra hard. Last night I was so angry at her and the political nightmare our country has become that I could even make art. Today at least was better and I could make something!

Palest pink brushes
The edges of white flowers.
Apples begin here.