My women’s group comes through again: Being on sabbatical in everyday life
My women’s group on Monday night was as amazingly magical as usual.
The topic was sabbaticals, what are they and how they are meaningful (and so necessary) in our lives.
The host was our minister, and she explained her recent 3-month sabbatical to us and how we can all use them in our lives.
The topic was particularly relevant to me because I have been on a sabbatical of sorts for the last four months. It has been a period of inner reflection, coming to terms with who I am, where I’m going and who I want to be.
Two events in my life started off my sabbatical. My fiance broke up with me and I had an epiphany with my mother.
The two are not entirely unrelated, as I came to realize.
My fiance was verbally aggressive with me so I left and he broke up with me.
My mother was verbally aggressive with me and a bully during most of my childhood and I left her too. I moved from Toronto to Montreal at the age of 18 to go to university. I didn’t know a soul here. I never moved back.
I don’t regret either decision.
My ex-fiance and I have been airing our grievances and feelings for each other on and off over the last couple months.
My mother and I have been doing the same for the last 15 years. Until this Christmas.
This Christmas was different.
I had forgiven her and she no longer made me edgy or uncomfortable to be near her. I had come to trust I’d defend myself and that she’d behave. And we had a heart to heart that happened quite naturally at the dining room table.
My step-father was there too and he asked me why I’d want to be in a relationship with an aggressive man. I looked at him and I looked at my mom and said, “Because I lived that with my mother so I keep continuing the pattern in my relationships.”
That was a moment I never expected to live. Why? Because abusers don’t often admit nor regret their abuse.
But as I looked at my mother such pain and regret crossed her face. I never ever expected to see that moment. I didn’t even believe she felt that way.
As a girl it was obvious to me that she enjoyed hurting me and causing me to collapse in sobs on the floor. That she wanted to unhinge me and make me feel like nothing.
That was the mother I grew up with. And if she wasn’t being verbally abusive she was neglecting me and treating me as if I were inconvenient. And these patterns have repeated in my personal relationships time and time again.
And these two events have changed me in ways I never could have predicted.
I have been on sabbatical inside myself. It’s as if I’m on a mission to heal myself completely. And be able to truly let my anger go.
This has been really scary. I don’t feel like the person I was in a lot of ways. I often don’t recognize myself.
I am more open. I am bolder. I am calmer. I feel very vulnerable, but free at the same time. I cry easily and often, over sad things and happy things. I stopped drinking alcohol and caffeine drinks. I have switched to a mostly paleo diet. I am no longer overspending or being extravagant with my money. I no longer feel trapped. I started yoga. I am knitting again.
But there’s more. I no longer feel vulnerable expressing my true feelings. It has taken some considerable effort, but I have broken through that part of me that felt I needed to earn people’s love because I wasn’t worthy of love for who I am. That stopped me from saying things that I thought might turn people off or send them away.
But now I truly get the idea that if you are yourself with someone and they don’t want to be with you, then they are not meant to be with you. It’s as simple as that.
It’s not about them being mean or spiteful or whatever, it’s just about them being them and me being me. And it’s not as if I don’t have a choice in the matter. I don’t think I really believed I did sometimes before, but now I see very keenly I do.
And my intuition told me if your with someone you’re meant to be with them, and if you’re not with them then you’re not.
It’s that simple.
So I am coming to terms with not being in a relationship anymore. And I have laid things to rest with my mother.
I care about them both. Likely always will.
But I know deep inside myself that standing up for myself and defending who I am has got me here. It’s been a hard road, and I’m still on it, but I am more for all that I’ve learned, and for all that I am.
From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor
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