Defined as the Problem by the Age of Four by Carrie H.By
Carrie H. first guest posted here on Emerging from Broken in March and her post “Self Love and Navigating the Waters of Grief” was a big hit. Carrie writes with passion and beautiful emotional imagery and I am excited to publish her second post. Please help me welcome Carrie back with her second contribution here as we light the path to emotional healing by shedding light on the empowering truth. ~ Darlene Ouimet
Defined as the Problem by the Age of Four by Carrie H.
When I was very young, maybe three or four, my mom asked me to carry some glass bottles up the concrete steps leading up to a neighbor’s house. On the first trip I dropped a bottle and it shattered. My mother was very upset with me, but she let me try again. This time, I was so nervous that I would drop the bottle that it slipped through my fingers and broke. She was furious. She yelled at me. I don’t remember exactly what she said but it made me feel like she thought I had intentionally broken the bottle just to upset her. There was no way to prove that wasn’t true. It was the first time I felt trapped behind a lie about myself that I couldn’t prove wrong.
It was the first time I felt like I was screaming into the wind and my words were carried away. It was the first time I felt like I was placed into a box; a box with glass walls that gave the illusion of freedom. A box I couldn’t escape, yet couldn’t prove was there. No matter how hard I tried (and still try), I couldn’t escape that box. How could I possibly prove that dropping the bottle was an accident??? How could I possibly prove I wasn’t unkind? Eventually I adapted to being trapped in that glass box labeled “unkind” and “selfish” and I became comfortable. So comfortable that even I stopped seeing the walls.
Until one day I stumbled upon them.
I realize that I’ve been trying to prove that wasn’t me my whole life. The little girl who broke a bottle on purpose. The selfish person who would intentionally hurt another. But it turns out that my family won’t see me any other way. I’ve left the box but they won’t see me unless I climb back in. I’ve tried so hard to shout but once again I am yelling in the wind.
I took my whole family to therapy to figure out which steps everyone was taking to create the destructive dance we have been moving to our whole lives. I was called “unforgiving.”
I asked my mom one thing she would change about herself so that I would know for sure that she was capable of dancing a new, healthy step. I was called a “brooding teenager.”
I sent my father an email asking why he hadn’t spoken to me for two months and hadn’t even tried to see his grandchild in that time. I was called “critical.”
My husband sent my parents an email trying to explain why things are as they are now, how we never got an apology after we were told time and time again (falsely) that something was wrong with our child. He ended the email wishing them love and light and courage. We were called “disrespectful.”
There is nothing I can do to convince them that I am a nice person who is trying to help them not out of malice but out of love. There is nothing I can show them to prove to them that love is about growth and becoming healthy in how we relate to one another. There is nothing I can say to communicate that I want them in my life but I want us all to treat each other with genuine love.
To them I will always be selfish, critical, judgmental, and unforgiving. I will always be the little girl who shattered a glass bottle on purpose. And I don’t want to be treated that way anymore. Because as many times as they convince themselves its true, as many stories they construct so that I’m the villain, it will never be the truth. It is not the truth about me. And I want to live in truth. I want my child to see me living in truth. The little girl inside me is tired of shouting out to her family that they’ve got her wrong! I am tired of trying to show them and prove to them that they have falsely defined me.
I am not a bottle breaker, I am a truth teller.
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