A Long Week Starts on Monday

I have a lot going on right now, in my “real” daily life, and in my complicated internal life (which, in all honesty, feels no less real). I am on the writing team for a $25 million grant for the non-profit I work for. I’ve done a lot of grant writing before, so that’s fine, but it’s a huge, complicated grant proposal with a lot of moving parts, and the director keeps changing his mind about what he wants in there. And he doesn’t come to our check-in meetings to talk anything over, but instead travels for other projects and send us emails with random changes.

Then I have my upcoming hysterectomy and pelvic organ repair (three weeks from this past Thursday). I timed it to be right after the grant proposal goes in, because I’ll have to go on medical leave for a month.

Internally, I’ve been trying to attend to my teen self, the unhappy, frustrated, harming girl who wants love and care but doesn’t believe it’s actually possible. And I’m just starting body and awareness work with my therapist’s colleague.

*** * ***


Monday. I write on the grant proposal from home. I take a break at lunchtime for my first meeting with C. She has a background in yoga, Thai massage, acupressure, social work, and mindfulness training. Probably some other things too. I feel guarded with her, so she is calm and slow. We go through a meditation practice, focusing on the breath and self-observation. I realize E. hasn’t told her anything really, so without a lot of background, I tell her about burning myself, because I have been wanting to do that a lot in the past several weeks. I know she talked about it, but I find I can’t remember anything she said. Before I left, she lent me a book by Eckhart Tolle.

That evening, I have a session with E. She’s eager to hear how it went with C., but I don’t have much to say yet. We talk about the teen. I read to her what I’ve been writing to/from the teen. She makes observations, offers suggestions. She wonders if I move too fast with the teen, focusing too soon on solutions and not spending enough time showing that I understand what she’s going through. Maybe she’s right. I talk about trying to be perfect because that is the teen thought was needed in order to be loved and accepted. But of course she always failed. E. talks about putting “salves” on my wounds. Salves are compassion, self-awareness, acceptance… She lends me Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection. She says to tell the teen what I would have said to my stepfather about his behavior, if I’d been there at the time. I think she is right, but I am missing something undefined and emotional when I leave.

I go home and my wise woman self writes to the teen: If I’d been your mom back then, I would have spoken up to your stepdad. I would have said, “Wait a minute. What is this way of treating the kids? That’s not acceptable. It’s not good parenting. They deserve kindness and gentleness. You have to remember they are children. They are developing into their adult selves and have to feel supported, appreciated, encouraged and loved. If you can’t radically shift your behavior toward them, then there is no marriage here. Despite my love for you, my responsibility and love for these four children has to come before anything else. So you have a very serious choice to make.”

The teen wishes my mother had really said that.

I go back to proposal writing until bedtime.



  1. This resonates so much for me, in that I wish my dad had protected me from my stepmom’s emotional abuse. It feels like he chose her over my and my brother’s safety. I like the idea of the wise woman self writing those words now, pointing out that it was really not okay, that children need love and protection. Thanks for sharing.


    • Right? It is such an abandonment to allow your child to be emotionally abused by your partner. In some ways, I feel angrier about that than about the emotional abuse from my stepdad (well, today at least).

      Liked by 1 person

      • It took me a very, very long time to realise that my dad was complicit. It was a real turning point for me in terms of holding him accountable instead of feeling it was all my own fault. It was frightening to discover how enraged I was and am about that. Children should be protected no matter what. I understand what you mean about feeling angrier (at times) about your mom failing to protect you–it’s pretty much the most fundamental task in the parenting job description. I hope you’re having a good day today, dear Q. I’ve been feeling a lot of empathy for your teen self.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, once it’s out in the open like that, the sense of betrayal by a parent, it leads to a really powerful anger. It can be hard to know how to handle that after so many years of denying it or forcing it down. But that’s part of what I am working on.

        Thanks for thinking about the teen! She is doing better these past few days. Good thing, too, because I am SWAMPED at work.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Part of what is hard for me is trying to make the distinction between behaviour that falls under “we’re all just human” and behavior that is actually abusive. Because sometimes people just screw up, right? But I find that the presence of that anger is a helpful clue!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish your mother had said those things to you too. I wonder if your teen expects you to be perfect in how you relate to her too? That would be a lot of pressure on yourself to meet perfectly all your needs.


    • Interesting comment, I hadn’t really thought of in terms of what I am able to give her and my limitations there. I have just been thinking about what does she need. In the long run, there needs to be a balance.


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