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My Mom is Forever 48: Gone but not Forgotten.

Today would’ve been momma’s birthday, instead she is forever 48. Even after more than 13 years the grief still lingers and makes itself known reminding me of the giant hole that was left behind in our lives over a decade ago. I still wonder why she had to leave us so soon and when there was so much more to do, see, experience and when God knew how much I would need her in the years that were left ahead for me. I was so young and naive, 23 and pregnant with #2. #1 was almost 4. I was a newlywed and trying to figure out my life. Then in an instant it changed forever. I learned it was I who was now the mother.

I’m not sure what a birthday with my mom that would look like anymore. I often wonder if she would’ve been happy or if she would have hated the idea of getting older. I am not a fan of these days that make me think more of her than I typically do. They say “time heals all wounds”, but I don’t know if that’s true. I may never heal from my mom’s death. There was too much that I felt got left unsaid, too much that was left unresolved, and too much that we never had the chance to experience. My mother died and I wasn’t ready to let her go. I couldn’t understand why or what purpose this pain served. I became angry at God, at her, and most of all with myself for all of my mistakes along the way. I still haven’t released myself from the guilt, the grief, or the pain that quickly rushed in and took hold that early February morning 13 years ago unexpectedly out of no where. She was too young, she wasn’t sick, and I didn’t understand how this happened so quickly.

Grief is a unpredictable emotion. You expect it at first and then expect it to subside. It does over time diminish as you begin to go back to the day to day routines in life. No matter how long it’s been, grief can be triggered to come back full force even when you least expect it. It lingers within you and that rush of emotions can flood you as strong and fresh as the onset of the initial loss. There isn’t a timeline where you suddenly stop grieving. I’ve learned that no amount of time or distance will make me stop needing, wanting, or missing my mom’s presence in my life. If anything the time is just seems to make me realize how long it’s been since I last saw her face and heard her voice.

I had to hold on to what I had left in those first few years because my grief was drowning me after she died. I watched as my family moved on with their lives and felt like I couldn’t. I felt like I was responsible for carrying the grief for all of us for a long time. That I had to be the one who was kept her memory alive for everyone. People stopped mentioning her name as they grieved her loss in a different way. I held onto the pain because I felt it was all I had left of her at that time. I know now I have a lot more of her to hold onto than the pain. I see her face sometimes in my own. I hear her words or tone come out of my mouth when I speak in certain moments. When I need her with me I can now have faith that she is watching over me and leading me in the right direction. She taught me about what kind of mother I needed to be for my children. She taught me also all the things I don’t want my children to have in a mother.

Somewhere along the way I realized although we fought and argued and hurt eachother that she was always there to help me when I was ready to accept it. She was always willing to offer her advice and opinion, I sometimes would take as criticism, but it was from a place of genuine love and wanting me to be my best. She wanted me to be better for my family then she was for hers. I may always be grieving, but I can now see that my mother’s memory doesn’t reside only in that grief. She resides in me, my brother, my dad and our children. She is there and will always be watching over all of us. Happy Birthday Momma. I miss you today and everyday. Your memory lives on forever in our family and the time we had together.

Some days, like today are just harder than others. Some days in the ordinary moments it comes rushing back, that loss, out of no where. You expect the birthdays, anniversaries, the holidays, and the day you said goodbye to be difficult. The milestones, the celebrations and the failures, or anytime that you would’ve appreciated their presence, their guidance, their comfort or their love to be with you. It’s such a complicated emotion, grief. Losing a parent is a big loss, and when you feel like things should’ve been done differently and better it can leave you not only grieving but riddled with the confusion and guilt that their absence has brought.

PS: I owe my mother that my threefold even exists! She told me not long before her death right after I found out 2 was going to be a girl – “you are going to get threefold back for what you put me through!” We laughed as she chastised me for being such a horrible teenager. When I found out I was having another girl with 3 after she had died I could hear the laughter of her in my head and the repetition of those words over and over. So this My Threefold was born in that moment. ☮️❤️😊 -M

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Insecurity Overload and Unrealistic Expectations of Self:

Feeling insecure 😕

I am determined to put all this stuff behind me. Figuring out the how and the way forward is my biggest obstacle. I can admit but I don’t know how to ACT in order to change it. I know I’ve focused too much on the perception of what I’m doing from all angles and it’s caused me too much frustration and worry about how I’m going to look and appear in court, what light my ex is trying to cast on me, how my threefold expect me to be, and trying to get past and heal from my own trauma and damage. It all makes me overwhelmed about the different ways I need and feel I have to be better or seem better or appear this or that. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being tired and I’m tired of never reaching the impossible standards I’ve forced upon myself and never feeling secure enough, good enough, whole enough, or just enough anytime that perfection standard isn’t met. There is a difference in having a strive to achieve excellence and the losing battle of perfection. Yes it takes a lot of work to undo damage but if I can’t acknowledge what I am doing wrong and how I’m impacting the people around me by doing that then I can’t fix it. I am trying. I want to be better, but I have to learn that expecting more more of myself than is actually attainable is going to keep perpetuating the same reactions and responses. I can’t fix everything all at once. I have to remember that and I have to give myself patience and understanding.

I’m just trying to get to a place where I feel free from my past and can see ahead and all the possibilities it holds. Right now I feel stuck in the in between. I feel I have changed so much in the past year yet I feel like there is far too much control, energy and attention given to the past. Not just me, but by my threefold feeling stuck in their trauma also. I want to move forward but with divorce still looming and everything still so up in the air I can’t seem to release myself from that. I can say all the right words and even start going through the motions but I feel like if I am still linked to this man and if we have no closure on this ugly part of our lives then we can’t begin to heal. I fall back on my own toxic behaviors of setting myself up for failure, catastrophically defining my every shortcoming, placing unreasonable expectations and making out that someone else held me to some unattainable standard that no one has actually expressed an expectation of.

It’s selfish and self centered to focus only on how I feel about me. I can’t take praise, compliments, or criticism without having a negative contradicting thought. It’s anxiety and C-PTSD I know I’m highly aware as to the why and I even can rationalize my behavior as a result and response to those feelings of needing to be validated as good enough but even when I am it’s never enough for me to make it change if anything it raises my expectation of myself. Oh ok I got applauded for being on the top 10 at work so now obsessively check where I am in that ranking everyday and then I do whatever I have to do maintain the value I feel I have to prove I have. In turn I burn myself out and still have been in the top 10 for 6 consecutive weeks and hit #1 twice. It fueled my feelings of achievement, success, and it validated how amazing I am at my job while being insecure about missing work to care for and tend to my threefold during their difficult transition and 2’s hospitalization. I can lose 60lbs and had an original goal of 150 I’m at 159, I will get there by whatever means necessary because I am stubborn and willful and need the challenge to be motivated but once I’m there I’ll change the goal to 140 because I’ll still find why a size 8 doesn’t look good on me then it will be 130 I want but when I don’t reach it in my timeline I set then I will gain 20lbs most likely because im pissed off at myself for not doing more to get there. It’s churning with every aspect of everything. My insecurities drive me in everything yet no matter how far I get in anything I can’t make myself be happy with where I’m at today. My own self-sabotage will continue to cause me to fail but when I let go of the expectation my motivations fade to nothing and I feel like I’m never going to be any further than I am in this moment. In that moment I’m self loathing. Criticizing my every action and inaction and over analyzing everything I’ve said and everything I left unaddressed.

I need to reach the next goal or fix the next problem or find another solution. My life and energy feeds off my need to do more, be more, accomplish more, and my need to be the best in others’ eyes. I don’t feel seen, appreciated, celebrated, or validated. The compliments build my own feelings of them expecting that level at all times. Im pretty, oh ok im not but they like me because they think I’m pretty so I have to be whatever it takes to be pretty. You think im this strong bad ass woman then I must live that life and display behaviors and actions to support those theories. You want me to support myself financially then that means I can’t show I’m struggling or reach out for help. Add those ideas to being told by my past and my own brain reinforcing those words that I’ve been told a million times that I am not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, strong enough, worthy enough and everything just perpetuates that intense desire to be everything I perceive others want and need me to be at all times. Even if my perception isn’t based in truth and reality.

It’s insecurities, it’s psychological trauma, it’s a deep rooted desire to be validated in everything I do, and to be the best at everything all the time. I have to be the picture of the perfect mom, the perfect partner, the perfect daughter, employee, friend and all around person. I will never be pretty enough or thin enough. It’s picking apart every detail and feeling like every move I make is going to be wrong choice or it will somehow cause damage to someone else somewhere. It’s fear that failure is my only defining characteristic in my own eyes and that regardless of how hard I try it will never be good enough. I can’t handle setbacks without thinking the setback will define me to the people around me. Whoever I let down, disappointed, or felt I hurt I feel I’ve failed them on a level that never will be told to me but perceived by me. “So just leave then!” I want to scream when I don’t feel I’m measuring up. “I can’t be everything to everybody all the time!” I cry as I feel I am being criticized and become defensive. “You think I want to be this messed up?” I ask desperately needing someone to meet me where I am as I feel I have attempted to do that time and again with others. “Quit telling me I’m stronger than this and to keep trying!” I say in a frustrated manner as I feel that all of my own insecurities and my expectation of myself are failing to be met and my efforts have begun to meet the end of my motivation to keep trying because I can’t understand why my efforts to do better are never good enough for anyone or seen in a way of wanting more. I’m not sure how to make my inability to receive compliments or praise at face value match up with a need to be validated, valued, appreciated and supported. I need the approval and acceptance because I don’t approve of or accept myself.

I can acknowledge its existence and the toxicity of that pattern but I don’t know how to change that thought pattern and that way of life. It’s been psychologically embedded and rooted that positive affirmations don’t reverse it, support seems to amplify it, and my anxiety seems to manipulate it. I just want be able to give myself the allowances I give everyone else and stop feeling like there is no amount of effort that will improve my life or my relationships. Feeling destined for a life of constantly falling short and blaming others for that is toxic to me and everyone else around me. How do I learn to cut myself some slack, relax, and stop perpetuating this cycle of try and fail and repeat? I’m lost in that today. Maybe writing it down and getting it out will be cathartic and help me find a better way forward than the road I’ve continued to take regardless if that’s the only way I know. It’s time to learn a new way forward because this way is not getting me anywhere.