April 26, 2020
Mom cried yesterday. It happened suddenly like the hail storm of the other day. Without much warning, and before mom had a chance to notice, the tears started coming. It wasn’t a flood of tears. Just a smear of moisture that wet her face.
Mom has been doing her best to hold her shit together these last weeks. She started many mini projects to keep her mind busy. She propagated endless amounts of plants, she started her “not lost” flyer series, she painted with moss, donated and distributed over three hundred masks, and baked so much bread. So much bread.
But all this time, these activities felt like a form of running away. Running away from her feelings. Running away from strong feelings that mom was afraid to feel. Feelings that were like ghosts, demons or raptors that chased without losing breath. Almost elegant in their pursuit of prey.
But mom was constantly running out of breath. Hiccuping to catch her breath. Knowing that she had to slow down to ground herself. But she feared the feelings.
That’s when mom discovered something. Mom discovered that she was running away from sadness. Mom was running away from the fear of death. Death of friendships, death of relationships, death of hope.
Mom is an adult child of narcissistic parents. So her brain is hard wired to desire acceptance and approval. So much of the love mom experiences was conditional. Grandma would tell mom, “in order to be loved, you need to be lovable. But you are so not lovable, Yoon Soo”.
So mom thrashed about doing her damn best to be understood. In order to be loved. But mom realized that she is loved. Just the way she is. And the people who want to love her within the confines of their “conditions of love” will never understand her. And love her unconditionally. And that is the reality that mom is mourning. Mom is struggling with denial and bargaining right now. Denial in the form of “you’re exaggerating. It’s not that bad”. And bargaining in the form of “if you behave this way, then your relationship with that other person will becomes much better.”
Mom knows that the only way forward is radical acceptance and finding meaning in pain. Radical acceptance in the form of: not trying to change or fix the situation but acknowledging it for what it is. And finding meaning in the form of sharing the stories of pain, so others in similar situations can know that they are not alone.
Mom’s brain has been working double time to trick mom into thinking she is alone and not loved. But mom knows that this is the voice of trauma. This is what trauma looks like. This is what trauma looks like. This is what trauma looks like.
I love my mom. I hope she can cry a bit more to sooth herself. Vulnerability sucks. But it’s the life line towards compassion, isn’t it?