I just read a wonderful guest blog post at ScoutieGirl, by an online friend of mine, Kathy, who continues to inspire me. She talks about fear and overcoming it, and it got me to thinking about my own life. It might not be the same things we fear, but I can relate to those feelings.
For me, there is so much fear and anxiety in my life and I never deal with it in a healthy fashion. In a way, as my therapist said, it was part of how I was able to survive not only losing my dad as a child, but also to live in a house with an alcoholic mother, who could turn on a dime. Sometimes she was fine, but most of the time she was cruel and unavailable in the ways I needed her to be there for me. I know she loved me - I'm still the first to defend her at all times - but she didn't really know how to show love. She tried to do it with presents and trips, but that wasn't really what I needed.
My life was all about things. Abstractions and emotions weren't tolerated or understood. Dreams were wishful thinking that had no place in my life - I was always told to "grow up" whenever I talked about my love of writing and getting published one day.
I feel like even in her death, my relationship with her continues to be all about things. She had so many damn things - I don't believe the woman believed in getting rid of anything - and they are everywhere in the house. It's suffocating and yet, I haven't been able to bring myself to do anything about it.
It's been two years. I know it's beyond time, and I get so mad at myself for constantly putting it off, like it's the story of my life thus far, especially since I'm not connected to most of her possessions. My good memories of my mother are barely attached to any physical items, but still it's so hard.
There is so much stuff. Both my parents were crazy pack rats, it seems. I know, definitely, that my mother was (One of the many problems with a parent who dies when you're a little kid is that I have no idea who my father was as a person. He was just daddy.) but there is so much of his stuff I'm willing to bet it was a shared passion of theirs. I don't even know where to begin with a lot of this stuff.
I'm also torn about nostalgia and attachment I feel that I should have to certain things. I have none. There is no attachment to anything because, even if something was important to my mother, she never told me why or the story behind it. There is nothing in the majority of her things that makes me fondly remember her. I look at all her stuff and get anxious and annoyed and upset that the only way she ever felt truly able to show love was through shopping and buying me things.
The things I like to remember about her are how she took care of me when I was sick. She would let me sleep in her bed, and always pulled out Princess Bride (my favorite) for me to watch and would make me feel loved and protected. I remember how she took me with her to vote when I was little and shared with me her love of politics, even though later in life she would bemoan that I was a liberal hippy. I remember the two of us singing in the car (badly) along with Michael Buble, someone we both loved and one of those rare moments where I felt like we had something in common. Those are things I remember and none of them involve stuff.
Most of all, if I'm completely honest, I continue to avoid her belongings because it causes so much to bubble up to the surface - anger, sadness, loss - and I've made a lifetime of choices that involved avoiding all things emotional. I'm working on it, but I'm scared that a flood of everything will come rushing out of me if I deal with this. It's ridiculous and silly and I feel like I should be beyond this. Why can't I just let go? Why am I holding onto the sadness and so much anger?
It's time, though. I can't move on and allow myself to be happy while I'm clutching onto a past that wasn't even that great and things that don't matter in the end.
It got me to thinking how much fear controls me in so many bad ways. It paralyzes me. I keep myself from going after things I want because immediately I get afraid of what it all means. Change. Making mistakes. Failing. Just typing this, I get slightly anxious.
I'm working on it. I must keep working on it. Change isn't bad and fear no longer deserves the control over my life I've given it in the past. I've lived through a lot and I'm still standing. I'm stronger than I give myself credit for - I need to process that somehow and believe in myself.
A good place to start would be with a few boxes of my mother's stuff and donating it to people who could use it.