Grieving The Past
One of the things that has been most confusing for me in this healing process, is being told “you are grieving your past” and “you need to grieve the past to heal”.
Why would I grieve something that was painful? Why would I grieve something that I wish never happened to me? Why would I grieve something that was so horrific?
I have lost someone very very special to me, my Nana. She was one of the only people in my life that truly loved me unconditionally. Losing her I knew what it felt like in that loss. It was sad and heart breaking, because I had that close bond with her, she was the only one I had a close bond with that was safe, and I loved her back just as much… but why would I grieve pain and suffering?
When we grieve our past it’s grieving what should have been, or could have been. For me right now I am grieving the mom I never had. I had a mom, but she was not a mom. My mother was always “sick” in bed, bed ridden, house bound for 16+ years, and when she wasn’t sick or in bed just sleeping, she neglected me; put her needs first.
I spent most of my childhood only knowing my mom as being in bed, always sleeping. I have this horrible memory of me when I was 8 years old, throwing up on the floor, and my mom handing me the towel telling me to clean it up, because she was in bed sleeping and didn’t want to get up to care for me, so I learned to take care of myself, comfort myself, love myself.
I today as an adult grieve the “want and need” to have a relationship with “a mom”. I am grieving that childhood I never had. I am grieving that trust, and the love that I should have had. I am grieving that a mom would sit with me while I was sick, throwing up, and rub my back, and put me to bed with hugs and kisses.
Through this process of healing and honoring that story of what happened, you start to open yourself up to allow the grieving to happen. Right now I am going through that in my timeline. I think one of the reason we decided to do the timeline was to honor what I should have felt, what I never could feel, or could never say.
Part of that work is talking about how I felt then, and how I feel now. A Lot of my feelings now are wishing I had what I never had – a moms love, support, comfort, and all the things a child should have had, and even today what an adult should have; loving parents who put their children before anyone else. When I was younger, I only knew to survive, I never had feelings about it, I wasn’t allowed to have feelings about it.
Some people may say “well if you never had it, why would you grieve something you never had?”. We are all humans in need of love, support, connection, care, and tenderness. We as humans all have that connection inside of us that needs personal relationships. God created us to be in relationship, and be love and be loved; it’s an internal gift given to us by God.
Me being a victim of abuse, I never trusted the love or support, but I still wanted it. I have had to learn how to accept any support and love I have today. It has taken me years to accept that. It has taken me years to allow my support to hug me – and now that I know what it feels like, I am grieving what I should have had in my life; a mom who loves and put’s her daughter first, a dad who loves and doesn’t use the belt to beat me, and brothers who protect their sister; not sexually abused her.
I am at a point in my life right now that having a mom is something I deeply need. I have sat in therapy many times over and over saying, “I need a mom, I want a mom in my life” “WHERE IS SHE NOW? yeah I know, She’s STILL SLEEPING!”. This breaks my heart! I have tears right now writing this.
My childhood was about surviving, and taking care of myself, I am tired and exhausted. When I am asked, “what do you need?”.. it’s always “I need a mom, I want more than anything to leave this room, and go meet a mom for lunch, or go cuddle on the couch with a mom who will hug me and ask me all about my joys or sadness”. When I am asked “what do you need” it hurts to be asked that question, because I cannot have what I need and want.
Me being a mom of 3 boys, I have nothing but unconditional love for them, it’s hard for me to understand how I never had that. My children are my life, they come first, I could never hurt them, how is it that I did not have the same? WHY? Why is it that my mom and dad had nice things, but yet I went to school with holes in my shoes, and clothes twice my size? Why is it that I feared coming home everyday from school, knowing sexual abuse was waiting for me, instead of going home to a safe and loving family with open arms? I dont get it, and I never will – so I grieve.
I really do understand what it means to grieve the past, because right now, I am going through it, and the reason I understand it now, is because I am feeling like I never have before. I just need to find a way to gain strength from it to move forward. There are days that it seems easier than others, and then days where I am heart broken in tears, like right now at 4am.
Yes I have support, I have so much support at my fingertips whenever I need it. I have a wonderful husband, I have wonderful kids, I have a church community, I have dear friends, I have a wonderful therapist who I can reach out to at anytime, but the one relationship that I truly need, has never been, nor will ever be.
Grieving? It’s a process, a very hard process in this healing, but it’s a needed process. So I sit here and I grieve; I grieve so that I can fully heal and be at peace in knowing that I am loved and supported, but also need to honor that I wont have the past, I wont have the childhood, or the mom or the family I need. It hurts, it sometimes hurts so much that I cannot breathe, but I guess that is why they call it grieving.
February 15, 2012 at 5:25 AM
Karen, I love your transparency. I’ve discovered so many interesting things about the grieving process over the years. I lost my mom to cancer when I was a teenager and I tried to run away from the pain. And, I believed the lie that I needed to “get over it” and move on. However, after 20 years, I’ve learned that you never get over that loss. Yes, you move on. Yes, you get to the point where you finally know how to live and experience joy again BUT a part of you carries that loss w/ you for the rest of your life and it shapes us into who we are. And, like you are doing now, God uses it to help us to minister to other people who might be in the healing process. It’s an amazing cycle.
Thank you so much for your comment on by my blog today.
February 15, 2012 at 6:40 AM
Karen, my dearest friend, my heart grieves with you. If I could bleed out to let you feel some relief I would, because like you, THIS post, this grieving I have done many times over as well. I wondered many times how many others feel as I do (even at this age) – as I sit here, at my desk, at work I cry with you KNOWING, at least in some part, of what you grieve and why you must go through it.
I love you, not only because you are my friend but because your strength and courage to maintain your relationships, your home and your sanity is what guides others, including myself, to do the same.
February 15, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Karen, I hate that you went through so much heartache. But I do think you are doing such a great job.. Just by doing this blogging shows how much courage and strength you have. YOu may have raised yourself and that is sad but you did a great job at it.
February 15, 2012 at 2:34 PM
YES YES YES… that is such a beautiful thing, but yet so sad at the same time. If you dont mind, I would love to show a couple of my clients your blog. This is what the process of healing is. Alot of people out there are too quick to say “let it go, the past is the past” .. that is why people dont heal. The past is the past, and the past is a crucial timeline for our life. You were robbed a lifetime Karen, everything you needed. If you let that go, it’s like telling yourself “I dont care about myself”. You are so brave to take on this coarse of healing.
I myself cried with others when reading this blog entry, no child, or daughter should have to go through what you went through.
October 25, 2014 at 7:02 PM
In total agreement with your thoughts on this issue (whist crying along with you). You have to grief what never was, what was, to be able to get on with what is. If you don’t go through that (terribly awful) process, you’ll never be fully able to settle in to what is.
July 6, 2016 at 1:53 AM
Bless you, Karen. Grief is such a long, unique process…it takes the time “you” need. You are an amazing woman…you have suffered so much trauma and also found love, God, a loving husband and children. How wonderful that you have turned your pain away from your children and you can love them as a mother should as you should have been loved. Bless you, Karen, and thank you for sharing your journey of healing with your readers….I have no doubt it is also helping those who have perhaps, not yet, found their voice.