Each time I thought about attending the party, I felt like I was on the verge of a panic attack. An internal tug of war was taking place. I was doing it again. Once again, I allowed myself to be conflicted at the expectation and request of a loved one. I still struggled with saying no, not wanting to disappoint (a learned behavior from my past trauma)
In Need of Calm
This room would be a reminder of betrayal, rejection, fear. Yet, deep down, I couldn’t escape the nagging feeling I needed to attend. I couldn’t make sense of it, and tried to cling to my reasons. Attending this party would be a trigger, not just for me but, but for others in attendance. I was anxious and needed clarity. I needed guidance, and I needed it to make sense. I called up Theresa (my therapist) I needed the couch! I was on edge and in need of calm.
After listening intently to my gripes, Theresa reassured me that I had nothing to fear; in fact, she made it clear that she thought otherwise while she understood my reasons for not wanting to attend. She believed it was high time I made an appearance at a family event, and this party afforded me the perfect opportunity. She encouraged the move, suggesting I not only go but also walk in confidently, holding my head high and proud of my accomplishments, in this room full of people who are undoubtedly not expecting me to make an appearance. You have nothing to be ashamed of but everything to feel dignified. You are that girl that caused the upheaval, bringing the drama and creating a shift in the family. Yes, you are that courageous girl that broke her silence and exposed the family’s dirty secret. Yes, you are that girl, but now the woman NEEDS to show up and stroll into that event wearing her badge of honor proudly, she said.
The truth is, I wasn’t ashamed. I am unapologetic, unremorseful, and defiantly so. But I was jaded. I was so over it, and had contentedly distanced myself from some of these people and was quite at ease with never seeing the selective few again. I left that session feeling proud, gratified, and reassured, armed with the knowledge that if nothing else, I had ALL justifiable reasons to be there. But, I got home, back to reality, back to my doubts, back to the voices and boy oh boy, were they loud.
In Need Of Reassurance
Safety was an issue, I (my adult self) was not afraid, but the little girl within became restless. My inner child that had fought for so long to separate herself from the theatrics, now felt uncomfortable and uncertain about being in a space she did not feel safe. It only occurred to me then; I could not recall a moment from my childhood where I ever truly felt safe. I called in reinforcement. Theresa’s office is far away from home; I couldn’t run there every time I felt queasy so, I called up my trusted confidant, my voice of reason, one of my primary motivator and supporter. I dialed the number, he answered on the second ring, ‘Rick, I said, I need to talk.’ Rick was at my house within the hour. Rick (my little brother) always knew what to say even when I didn’t necessarily want to hear it.
He said, think of her, think about her, and think about the good that she did. Think about the fact that she raised us in-spite of, think of this, after mom and dad migrated she took on the responsibility of caring for us after raising her children, she didn’t have to.
Again he was right; his reasoning struck a nerve. I knew all this, but the rebellious and defiant child within did not want to think about these things. She was okay with thinking only of the later years and the vile, despicable things “grandma” said. I didn’t hate grandma, but I resented her deeply for asking me to think of her husband. I resented her for making comments like “I don’t see the big deal” and “it was only a little fuck” even after showing her the scars that remain as a constant reminder from a surgery I had to do as a result of what her “husband” did.
It was sometime throughout the court case, and her showing up consistently in support of her man, lying to the attorneys in my presence to shield her husband, professing the man was traveling during the years of my claims, that I lost it. I lost every shred of respect for the matriarch of the family. That man, ‘her husband’ began his reign of terror from 1989 – 1995, the first time her husband ever set foot on a plane was in 2000. The aversion I felt for him was at that point transferred to her that day.
Sympathy has since replaced the intense dislike I developed towards her. The irony, my grandmother taught me some years ago, on her very first trip to the US, during a conversation we were having about first loves, she informed me that it is possible to love someone and not like them. The humor, the paradox, she was referring to the same man, her husband’ Now I fully understood what she meant. I love my grandmother, but I despise some of her ways.
Rick dropped his gems, his words of wisdom, and his suggested reasons, encouraging me to reconsider. Again I promised to think about it. My sister called from Texas to ask if I had received the invitation from my cousin in Australia. I told her I hadn’t checked my messages. Max is getting married in Jamaica! She said. He’s requesting our presence. Damn! We both said, right before bursting into laughter. I was already aware of the wedding, but had not said anything to Candy because I knew she had NO intention of going to Jamaica, but it’s Max! Damn! We simultaneously exclaimed as we ended the call.
Surely we could go to Jamaica and not attend the party, but some of these people would also be at the wedding. Damn! During a conversation with the girls that attend the J2F Awakened Retreat annually, a question was asked in regards to forgiveness. In an instant, I realized I was asking them and others to do something I had yet to do myself. Forgiveness was one of those things with which I still struggled. My very own speech convicted me!
I had to make a decision. I took into account all the different perspectives and opinions, including the “hell no’s, and are you crazy?” exclaims from a few supportive relatives and friends. But, this time, I was deciding for ME. I had to challenge myself and test this forgiveness theory. I have to practice what I preach. I could not be hypocritical in my approach when encouraging and motivating others. It’s all fine and dandy when you far removed from a situation and the people that caused you pain. Still, I needed to place myself in the extremely uncomfortable setting, I needed to test my growth, or if any at all had taken place on my Journey 2 Freedom.
This decision had to be solely mine, not forced, coerced, or one I was guilted into doing. After much mental, back and forth, after weighing the pros and cons and replaying memories of a time passed with my grandmother. After taking into account the feelings of the one individual (my mom) that for decades have been at the center of all my decision both bad and good, knowing and unknowingly, I made my decision.
January 25th, 2020, with my head held high, beaming with pride, my face adorned with a smile, my heart and soul in human form by my side, and regally dressed, we walked into the Morant Villas Ballroom. To my amazement, there to greet me, with arms wide open, was the person I least expected… To be continued.
Join me as I/we Journey 2 Free. From my heart to yours,
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