My Mother, My Self.

Remember this summer when I went to the REVEAL retreat in upstate New York?

Every woman in the group - a small cluster of shining souls - was exquisite, ethereal, tapped-in. I felt for much of the time like the lone simpleton, the girl who had no right to be there because she knew so little and was so lost, so wandering. And then, as I'm wont to do, I verbally assaulted all of these celestial women with the fears and insecurities that were bubbling up like an emotional volcano, and they reminded me that, in fact, I was right where I was supposed to be.

With them.

Among them.

One of them.

That was just one month ago. And I'm starting to connect some dots.

I went to REVEAL with no expectations. I knew that something would happen for me there, but did not preemptively decide what that something would be. I was desperate for some clarity about my business, but knew that if I forced myself into the Figure Out How To Monetize Yourself box, I'd miss out on something spectacular.

As we got to know each other, and as we felt more and more comfortable asking questions that helped drag out answers we might not have expected, I was surprised and confused to hear myself talking about my sadness over my relationship with my mother. Tears came immediately, and I felt, in my body, incredibly out of control. "Where is this coming from? I wasn't expecting this. Why am I doing this now, here?"

I've never written about my relationship with my mother. It's such a huge part of my life that's been so completely absent from this typically-revealing space that I truly can't believe no one's asked me about it. I've been terrified, really. Scared to hurt her by admitting that things are hard. Afraid of the emails I might get from folks telling me what I terrible daughter I am - people that think they know all they need to know.

My mother and I don't talk often. We email occasionally about my children - questions and answers about books and visits - but nothing much beyond that. This isn't where I want us to be, and I don't think my mother's for it either. Yet the alternative - frictioned conversations that leave both of us feeling raw and tangled - wasn't working either. Not talking about this facet of my human experience has been making me crazy. I feel like I can't think straight because I'm uncovering all of this new information about who I am, and yet I'm not processing it fully because, for me, processing fully means writing here.

Old information - the things that have happened, the things we've felt, the things we've shouldered - doesn't leave our bodies until we dig it out. Instead, it sits in our cells, making us sad, sick, unhappy, angry, confused, lonely, self-doubting. It sits there hurting us over and over again until we're in a safe enough place to bring it up, feel it, and release it. The spiritual support I received at REVEAL was unlike anything I've ever experienced. I was witnessed so thoroughly, so completely. And I was granted the honor of witnessing. The expectation that whatever was coming out was just the thing that needed to come out was freeing, and allowed trust and faith to build.

I was unprepared for my relationship with my mother to become the focus of my time in the mountains, and yet I'm beginning to understand why it was. I needed a safe space to go deeper than I'd ever gone before. I needed an extended, focused time to really let myself feel the depths, without interruption. I needed to be held, witnessed, seen.

Because now that I'm home, amid the reality of my full, vibrant life, I'm realizing how challenging it is to partner deep, old feelings with daily living. It's hard. I'm stealing moments to read, moments to breathe, moments to look. But the power and safety of that circle of ladyloves was unprecedented - and powerfully necessary - for a wandering girl like me.

I am fully aware of the fact of my adult-ness, of the very real truth that I am responsible for myself, my life, and my circumstances. I am simply on a fact-finding mission, wanting to understand the bedrock of who and what I am. Not so I can blame the architect, but so I can know how to successfully rebuild.

That's all I want.

A strong, successful rebuild.

Love,
*E

Emily Ballard9 Comments