March 4, 2012
My ol’ buddy the fan brush was speaking to me again, and I felt very satisfied as I was painting. As is often the case, I don’t know what this painting is about, but it felt right to paint it, and the image is really staying with me throughout the day.
Speaking of things that are staying with me, one of my morning rituals is to read Carolyn Hax’s advice column in the Washington Post. This morning’s column included a letter from a woman who didn’t want to invite her abusive father to her wedding. Carolyn’s response included this:
One of the most crucial roles a parent plays is of protector — yet children of abusers need protection from parents. All these kids, to some degree, are forced to protect themselves.
Once your father gave you the job of watching your own back, you earned the right to keep it.
Her words really resonated with me because I grew up in an abusive home, and I’ve separated myself from my family. I’m at peace with the decision, which was made not in anger but rather out of a profound desire to care for myself consciously and well, and to not subject my inner children to any more crazymaking family dynamics. I call it a “radical act of self-care,” though it’s actually quite a few radical acts because of the number of people in my immediate family. (I exclude my dad from this entire discussion; he died in 1991, and we had a profoundly healing time during his last days.)
Many days, I feel like Ayla from The Clan of the Cave Bear. At the end of the book, she gets banished from her adopted Neanderthal clan and (to quote Wikipedia), “sets off to find other people of her own kind.” I’ve been “banished” by a few family members and chose to “divorce” several others. Regardless of the details, it’s been an empowering journey to walk away from toxicity and consciously choose my circle of support.