Day 2 - My Story - Remembering the Dreamer
Hey guys... First of all, thank you SO MUCH for all the support after my last post! The love and acceptance was truly so healing. Every time I let this part of me be seen (the painful part), I'm finding it brings out compassion and acceptance from others... not the judgment I expect. You are helping me rewrite the narrative of my life and I'm beyond grateful. Before I get back to the story, I want to share where I've been the last couple of weeks...
I got stuck and I've had some deep moments of seeing myself as I really am... HUMAN. The week I told the first part of my story, it felt like Old Katherine had come back to drive the car. The one that believed at 12 that the only way to be safe was to be responsible for everything, get it all PERFECT and smile while she's doing it... even if she's dying inside. I was SPINNING and ON all the time. I was trying to balance the blog, school, starting a business and the Jade Dreamer project all at one time. After getting some wise council, I took a step back and a deep breath.
When I did I made an important discovery. All of this has shown me, I'm still healing. A wise man described it like an athlete with a broken leg who thinks they can just run a 26 mile marathon again as soon as they get that cast off their leg. But it takes time and training to get back to where they can run like they used to without it causing a LOT of pain and further damaging their leg. So, this is me... being human and figuring out how much pressure I can put on that leg.
The other thing I am coming to terms with is how much pain I'm still in, and how to be patient with myself instead of just trying to rush through it because it isn't convenient to be in pain. Sure, it's not current pain. It's pain from the past... but it keeps bubbling up. And if I keep shoving it down and trying to move past it, it will never go away. The only way out is expression. Which means a lot of crying and a lot of just being with myself when I'm having an "off" day or the whole world feels overwhelming. I have to continually remind myself I lived in a pressure cooker for 34 years. It takes a while to unwind that ball of thread, and the little girl inside me that was silenced deserves to have a Voice. So as much as I want to help others who have been emotionally abused, I would actually be coming from a self seeking motivation to be "important" if I didn't first stop and help myself. Because ultimately that's what I want to teach others... how to help themselves recover.
All that takes me back to where we left off with the story last time. I had just clearly seen what I was living in for the first time. This was the fall of 2014. My aha moment came after finally reaching out and talking to someone about my home life. When I did, I discovered I was being emotionally, mentally and physically abused and it had been going on my whole life. It was sobering, but it was also liberating. My whole life suddenly made sense.... I had always had this "gut" feeling that something was off... this gnawing, clawing sensation in my stomach so many times. Like my whole insides were going to turn on me. But I would ignore that feeling and retreat into my head. I would figure out how to appease my Mom. How to make peace. How to keep the status quo... because I needed that to survive.
Looking back, that is what is so hard to swallow...
How could I just ignore that screaming voice that was my heart for SO LONG?! It's been the hardest thing for me to forgive, honestly. Not the abuse. Not my mom for manipulating or controlling or hitting or denying basic human rights. No, the hardest thing has been to forgive myself for letting it happen. The lie I HAD to believe in order for my world to make sense was that it was all my fault. That she was treating me the way she was because at my very core I was a BAD GIRL. In all honesty, I'm still working on that... forgiving myself.
Back to the story... It didn't take long - about two weeks, for me to make the decision that I needed to leave. That two weeks was HELL. I started standing up to my mom and stopped reacting when she threatened me because I was being side coached by the angel God sent into my life that (the man who helped me see the truth to begin with). I would literally call him from the car and tell him how my mom was threatening me and ask him what to do. I don't know what I would have done without him. As I stopped responding to threats, my mom became more and more agitated and the stakes kept getting higher and higher.
For context, we owned a catering company and a house together, had joint checking accounts and shared a car. And there was tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt in my name because she couldn't get a line of credit anymore. With this set up, anytime I did something that was out of line (like talking to people she didn't want me talking to or having a crush on a particular guy she deemed "unworthy"), the business or my financial stability was threatened. She would refuse to complete her part of catering jobs we had accepted - leaving the kitchen and sulking until I begged and somehow hit the magic combination to get her working again. That was how it started, but as I got more of a back bone, the threats increased to freezing me out of the checking account, totally backing out of LARGE jobs we had committed to for the next several months, dissolving the business and locking me out of the credit cards she had taken out in my name. The drama reached a high point when she demanded that I take a 2 month "break" from talking to any of the few friends I had managed to connect with outside the house, do nothing but work the business and "rededicate myself" to our relationship. But for the first time ever, I told her NO. I'll never forget that day.
It was the Monday after a weekend of complete and total HELL. At the time, we were still selling our baked goods in two locations one weekend of the month. The threats started on Thursday with her refusing to make anything for either of those trade shows (which would cost us about 60% of the income that weekend). It hit a climax on Sunday night when she threatened to dissolve the business and email all our clients if I didn't agree in writing to pay her $120,000 for the business AND buy her a car. Oh, and assume responsibility for all of the credit card debt. I woke up Monday morning with a weight on my chest the size of the state of Texas. I could hardly breathe.
I went to take a walk (one of my only ways to get some room to think and breathe) and called my friend. I explained the situation to him and what was being demanded and he asked some really great questions... "Who's name is on the business?" Mine. "And the house?" Ummm... I'm the primary on the lease... "So, in reality, Katherine, she can't do any of the things she's threatening to do. It's all in your name. You actually hold all the cards." It was like a lightening bolt hit me. I honestly didn't know, you guys. I was so deep in it and so isolated from how the world really works that I didn't realize she couldn't do ANY of the things she was threatening me with... Wow. It was that moment that I felt the weight lift but I also felt like a FOOL. How had I let it get this far?
He talked me through what to do when I got back to the house. How to be strong without being confrontational and still walking in love. While I was talking to him I started to remember things about myself. I started to remember that I always wanted to act, sing, dance and write. I started to remember that I wanted to be an author and write novels. I started to remember the teenager who wanted to be a Christian Pop recording artist (because those were the days of DC Talk and I thought they were the coolest thing ever.) How had I drifted so far away from that? What if it was possible to go back somehow and find her again? It was that moment that thoughts started to pull together like puzzle pieces and I realized it wasn't just the abuse I needed to get away from. It was the Plan B life I had settled for... that's what was killing me. Somewhere in me the whispers of the Dreamer I used to be were clawing their way back up to the surface and demanding oxygen. It had been so long since I heard that Voice. I don't think it even registered on me what a huge impact these thoughts were going to have on my life, but they wouldn't go away.
I went back to the house and told my Mom that I would not be taking a two month break from the rest of civilization. She marched off to send that email announcing the dissolving of the business. I calmly told her I would be sending a follow up email saying it wasn't true because the business was in my name. It was the first time I had ever stood up to her. Ever. I remember sitting on the couch with my insides turning themselves into knots. The tightness in my chest from fear of how she would retaliate. Somehow this "NO" seemed to register with her, and she stopped in her tracks and came back to look at me. She then asked me a very telling question... "Have you been talking to someone?" See, that kind of control only thrives in isolation. Something she had protected for a very long time. I wasn't allowed to date or do anything socially without her. I wasn't allowed to have conversations with any of my family members that she wasn't a part of or didn't give a FULL report of when I got back. But I think she could tell by the tone of my voice that I was different.
I'll spare you the blow by blow, but suffice to say a week later I told her I was moving out, giving her the business and starting a new life. That all I wanted was not to be saddled with the credit card debt... That started another round of drama that we might touch on later, but I think that's enough for today. Again, I'm telling this story not to gather sympathy or to heap blame, but because stories are truth and they teach us something. Can you see yourself somewhere in my story? Have you been isolated or manipulated? Can you relate to the fear and the self loathing? Or maybe you too have buried your Dreamer and you need to let them come up for air... Some powerful shifts in my life started that day. Here I am 5+ years later, still healing, but pursuing my dreams and in a place of love and safety. It IS POSSIBLE. I hope that thought keeps you warm until next time. Remember YOUR DREAMER. It's not too late.