(Trigger Warning : I talk about parental domestic violence in this post)
Is a song I used to listen to a lot back in 2007. Do you know when you avoid listening to songs because it transports you back to a time you really don’t want to relive? It’s crazy how you’re brought back to a certain time in your life as soon as the 0:01 mark hits your ears.
I’m suddenly in the dry tub roughly in the mid of ’07, recording myself singing Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Just Like A Star” in acapella quite early in the morning, my Mom in her room, my Cats lounging about our two bedroom flat in Saudi Arabia.
Thirteen years ago. Wow. And yet I remember that day vividly. Over a week ago, on my way to one of our Site Offices with a colleague, we were talking about our 20s and how it felt like the most innocent, carefree time of our lives. Thirteen years ago I was Twenty One. I couldn’t even imagine myself being a Twenty-one-year-old anymore. Do I miss the not knowing, the naïve, ignorant version of myself? Partially, because ignorance is bliss. What was it like not knowing I would soon lose my Mother, that my life would turn to a complete 180 — I can’t, don’t even know …
I realized that I no longer know that version of myself, nor do I wish to. Man, I have come such a long, long, long way. I’m hecking proud of myself because of the decisions I’ve made to date, taking me where I am now. I’m not the most stable but … I think anyone who’s actually learning to stand on their own two feet would feel the same way. God, at 34 — who knew there was still so much for me to learn.
During this … worldwide crisis, I’ve found myself trying to trace who I was before all this, when I felt like I was certain of where my life was headed. Then I realized that I never was truly certain. Ever. Back then, I thought I did, I thought I knew what I wanted. Maybe I did, and maybe that changed. That, is not a bad thing. I did not possess the “has her shit together in her 20’s” gene. Lucky are those who do. Then again — we all have our battles, don’t we.
There were days when I asked myself, “How do I be that person again?“, which leads me to realizing that there was no point in asking that — 2018 Abbie was where she was meant to be, feeling the things she was meant to feel. 2020 Abbie is another story. I am not at peace (yet) with the fact that I don’t have the answers. I don’t know why it’s taken me almost a year to learn that it’s okay to not know.
It’s like trying to unlock a box with a key that’s been re-molded.
I think I’m finding my way through this very, very dark path, still learning how to accept the reality that I am in fact, where I’m meant to be, even if I don’t know where I am. I’m meant to not know. It’s been months since the Pandemic placed a blindfold over my head, and I still struggle. I sometimes beat myself up for it, and this isn’t the first time I’ve been typing this, let alone, not the first time I’m saying it to myself.
Most days I think I’m completely fine, and then boom — depression, anxiety attacks … the panic usually gets the best of me, but I am grateful enough that it usually hits when I’m stationed at home, and not whenever I’m out (or worse, at work). These days I just deal with it by going on hermit mode, playing games, keeping to myself, and — sleeping. I sleep for hours and hours on end until it’s night time and I sleep again. It’s the best I could do.
Usually I would deal with the motions by going to Al Serkal, or the Beach, or the movies — but the pandemic took away the peace of mind I’d get doing all those. Where’s the fun in “living your life” if doing the most basic of things under that category could potentially threaten it? Or maybe I’m thinking too much.
This dawned on me sometime in the past week : when I was in Grade School, I was terrible at Math (can confirm that I still am) — as much as I wanted to love Math, I hated it with all my soul because I used to get beat up for giving the wrong answer whenever I had homework. I was scrambling for what was the sum of 50 + 50. Could you imagine? I could see 8 year old Abbie shaking in her seat, and then everything turning into slow motion as her Father stands over her, his hand making his way to her face.
When my Dad beat me up, I used to think that I deserved it. I need to heal that part of myself thinking that I deserve when people treat me poorly, or that a mistake that isn’t even harming anyone’s life earns me a ticket to be beaten up, or be emotionally manipulated.
I don’t understand how a Parent could think beating up his Daughter to ace a subject he majored in (he’s a CPA, go figure) would help her in any way and not have any long term effects as she speed walks into adulthood. Maybe our Parents didn’t know better. But how fucked up is it that I, a 34-year-old Woman, is now left with all the shit I have to unpack and heal from, adding the fact that I have experienced this until I was 16.
I think it’s such a shame that I used to think Children who had been beat up would turn out fine. I’d usually say, “I mean, I turned out fine! Children needed to be disciplined!”, I said in defense of parents who had their belts and sticks at the ready. And yet here I am, drenched in tears as I type this entry, wishing there was a way I could travel in time to let my 8 year old self know that she did not deserve A N Y of it, no matter how much it looked like she did. I wish I could hold her and calm her down, because God knows it was all she needed. Everyone else at that point just told me that I deserved it. I deserved to feel like shit because I didn’t couldn’t figure out the answer to a math problem in one sitting.
It’s sad to know that this is something I have to deal with alone now. BUT — I am “glad” that I actually am, and that I am aware of the wounds I am to heal, to the point that I can tell whether I’m lashing out because of them.
One of the skills I’ve acquired in 2020 is calmly watching people guilt-trip me for putting up boundaries. I was always a pushover. I always allowed people to make me feel bad for standing up for myself. I’ve allowed them to think that I will always be someone they would have power over. I used to feel bad drawing lines. I used to feel bad when I say “I’m not comfortable with this“, or “I don’t want to“, like it was not a good enough reason. People always wanted me to justify myself, when I WAS MORE THAN ENOUGH A REASON. There was no need for justifying. “Because I said so“, is valid.
It is not fun at all to watch people project on to me, and I have to constantly remind myself that none of it is my fault, or my doing. It’s not fun to nudge myself and say “you’re not in the wrong for saying ‘no’“, because people end up disappointed to be turned down. It is not fun to constantly self-soothe during a panic attack, blaming yourself for not giving when you know you have nothing left to give.
Did I wish things were different for me and my Dad? Of course. When he found out about my annulment, he didn’t even ask me how I was doing. He didn’t want to know how I was feeling. He just said I was a disappointment, he said it was embarrassing that his own Daughter would be going against what he was preaching on the pulpit every Sunday. He had asked me why didn’t I consult him before making this decision. I stared at my phone for a good 5 minutes. I am thirty-four years old and it is my life. The fact that he is not even considering my feelings (and how sure and happy I — we are, of the decision we made), has given me enough justification to not ask for his “guidance”. There is no such thing as “guidance’ if it is coming from a person who does not have your best interest at heart — but his own reputation.
Some days I still find myself crying over a video of a functional Father – Daughter relationship. He is the only biological parent I have left. The last thing I want is for us to drift apart. But he has obviously made his choice. And I am physically miles away from him, and the rest of my immediate family, fending for myself, trying to make things work on my own (which is a treat, and equally challenging, and I would not have it any other way). Every day I feel supported and guided by God, the Universe, my Higher Self, and loved ones (both in the physical and spiritual realm). That is more than enough.
My friends usually ask me how do I survive cooped up in my apartment on most days, how do I manage living by myself, etc. — and the answer is right there. I’ve got me. In the midst of the pandemic, and all these crazy things happening in the world, if there’s anything this year has taught me, is that as long as we’ve got ourselves, that’s the most important thing to hold on to. At the end of the day, with the handful of people we’re blessed to have, and a fur baby who likes to wake you up at 5 in the morning to watch him eat (don’t ask me, I don’t even know), we’re all we’ve got.
And we’re all we’ll ever need. The rest is just (the best) bonus.
That, I am at peace with — and that is all that matters.