"Who do you think you are?" This is the phrase that repeats itself on a loop in my head. It's subtle but effective. This limiting belief in the form of a short interrogative keeps me stuck and afraid of my potential. I know I am capable and smart, and I have a lot to say, so why am I always hiding? Why does this phrase echo over and over in my head?
The answer came slowly--one piece at a time. Healing takes time, and it doesn't always appear immediately. It requires work, uncomfortable moments, and deliberate intent. It also helps when the question's source comes to live with you.
Last May, my mother came to live with us. It was the first time she and I have shared space in 20 years. At first, it was nice to have her around—even though the passage of time has mostly rendered us, strangers. The kids were glad to have Grandma around, and my husband did not seem to mind losing a big chunk of his man cave.
However, Six months into our new living arrangement, I started to become uncomfortable. A large part of my adult life has been constructed so differently from how I grew up. With all that construction, her ways and how she sees the world were at odds with my own. As it turns out, this discomfort was not reserved for me; my mother started to feel it as well. Not that we talked about it, but I began to pick up on cues that she was dealing with her feelings of discomfort.
As time passed, and for no reason at all, my mother would quietly say nasty things to me. It would be about my cooking, cleaning, how I handle the kids or the dreaded comments about my weight or make-up. They were not outbursts of anger, but they were nonetheless mean-spirited. It was as if she wanted a fight, and one day she said it...
" Who do you think you are?"
At that moment, it hit me: the discouraging thoughts came from her. I had total recall, and it all came flooding back to me. My "who do you think you are" and "do you think you're better than us," thoughts came from my family. I was able to remember the days when my mother's responses to any small success were negative. I remember when any good news from school was met with an eye roll. I can now recall the time my brother reminded me I wasn't better than "them".
After repeated exposure to this, I became afraid of standing out--I became fearful of being seen. Any ambition, as indicated by my family's responses, was shameful. The words that haunted me were suddenly plain and real. The self-doubt was instilled. It was my mother's voice in my head. In response to her question, I said nothing.
This is what healing looks like.
As of yet, I have not confronted my mother because my healing is about me. I believe that uninformed people do uninformed things. It's the, "forgive them for they know not what they do" kind of thing. It wouldn't make me feel better to have a full-on fight with her. She projects and processes discomfort as anger to cope. Conflict comes naturally to her, but I have learned better.
Per my practice, I asked my feelings about what they would have me learn from this, and there was plenty. I'm not happy about my mother being in my space, but my intuition is guiding me to stay in this space a little longer. It is guiding me to the edge of my pain because it is here that I can fully heal from my very deep childhood wounds.
This revelation has nothing to do with anyone. Yes, my family lacked knowledge and understanding, but my healing is my responsibility. I do all of this to be a better me--to be at peace in my life. I am no one's victim. We've all had things happen to us. The key is to move forward with courage. Move forward to heal what someone else broke.
As for my mother, my silent healing is, I hope, helping her break the cycle of pain. My unwillingness to meet in her broken places is my way of holding space for her. She does not have to understand me or my healing, and in turn, I will not try to fix her.
I am not what happened to me. Broken people conditioned me. I can heal from my wounds and break generational cycles of pain without making anyone responsible. This is my purpose, and that is enough. I release my fear and anxiety to make room for more joy and love. I am only an example.
For me, healing means getting up close to my fears. So for the last six months, I have been purposely doing things that scare me. This allows me to get close to the edge of my fear. The more I do this, the closer I get to the core of where this programming started. Healing and transcending is not easy. It requires that with work through uncomfortable situations and meet parts of ourselves that hurt.