From hatred to compassion

So originally, after learning just how detested I am by my family of origin, I had an aching to write them a letter or an email.This was what I typed up that I wanted to send to them:

Thank you thank you thank you.

Tony (and Sally),

Thank you so much for making my world better by leaving it! It’s so much happier and more full of love and compassion without you and Sally in it.

Please have it be known, that if you remain with the delusion that you and Sally did nothing wrong–ESPECIALLY Sally, you remain as crazy as your late father-in-law.


I am SO grateful to be dead to you. Thank you for doing me two enormous favors: bringing me into the world to find a real, true, loving family in the Rosenkaimer/Pierce’s and Shea’s, and throwing me away from the Maiale ‘family’ without even knowing me.


Enjoy Jack and delusional living.

Goodbye and good riddance.


I thought about it, though, and I realized that I may want to send them something to hurt them, but I would most definitely end up being very dissatisfied with myself for sending them something with the intent to try and hurt them (and the likely resulting disappointment that I would probably fail at hurting them).


And then, I thought more about it and I wrote out these thoughts:

While the aforewritten note is what I would like to say to the people who brought me into this world, I think it’s better not to. I know that it’s my vengeful ego that really really really wants to send it–or convey it to them in some way, through whatever medium.

I feel like it does nothing for good, not even me in the long run.

The following are statements of truth (and in parentheses, a yes or no to answer ‘is it REALLY true?’):

~~I hate them. (No–I don’t know what it feels like to hate someone. I don’t know that I know what that word really means)

~~I wish death on them, just like they did on me (no–there’s no need…we are all going to die at some point)

~~I wish they were in a position of need from me where I can rejoice in thumbing my nose at them and tell them ‘I am acting with as much love for you as you had for me when I was a child’. (No. That’s certainly not true. I would struggle with turning my back on someone in need)

~~They believe that they didn’t do anything wrong at all. They are wrong. They didn’t do anything right with raising me. They are delusional. (I believe that they do not have the same story as I do. I don’t believe they have the mental capacity to remember it the way that it actually happened. I don’t think that anyone has the capacity to live with themselves if they accepted the truth as it really happened. I don’t think that them not recalling my childhood as bad as it really was is malicious on their part–I think it’s the way they cope and live with themselves.)


And then I thought more about Leigh, than about them.

First I thought I hate her. But…then I think that I don’t really know what that word really means. I thought about that concept and then moved on to the next one. It consists of compassion for her. She was so abusive. She was so hurtful. Intentionally. She WANTED to hurt Tony and I, just like Mom did. She went out of her way to try to do anything to bring either him or I to tears—using her hands or her words. She didn’t care as long as we were crushed or hurt.

Where does that COME from? How do kids BECOME like that?? What happens to them that it gets to that point?

How much do you have to do to your SOUL to want to satisfy your mentally ill mother by bringing your siblings to tears? How much would you break down if you realized that the monsters in the mirror were part of your past? They don’t have to consume you or your future anymore….but they were definitely in your past.

How scared must she be to do everything in her power to avoid facing the demons of her past? How horrifying must it be to work so intently hard at keeping them at bay? How scary looking at them, facing them, realizing their existence, bidding them farewell must be. And all that—all that hard and scary work—is necessary to actually be able to allow yourself to love. And allow yourself to BE loved. All that is necessary to be able to move on from the past, stop living in it, and create a future that’s TRULY desired.

I used to hate my older sister because of how vicious she was, how cruel she could be, how cold and callous she is. Now I realized that the reason she is so cold is because she HAS to be. She HAS to be that cold and callous to be able to sleep with herself at night. She also has to be cold and callous so that she doesn’t get love (because she doesn’t “deserve” it you know). And if she’s cold and callous and hurtful and still people try to love her….she has to be more cold, more callous, more hurtful. Those people who still love her will be in constant battle if they openly dislike her actions.

I wish I knew a way to break the cycle. I think that part of her…the part that thinks that she really truly doesn’t deserve love ‘won’ when I walked away.


I don’t know what to do about all that….but it’s a lot more….loving to address her (even the thought of her) with compassion instead of hate.

A letter to Mother

As I’ve made it clear, my mom, the woman who raised me, and I are not close. I believe, in my heart of hearts, that that relationship is a toxic, completely ingenuine, inauthentic relationship. I have never been permitted to be the real, true me, without being ridiculed, belittled, criticized, and berated anyway. This mirrors the relationship with my dad. I grew up being told and thinking that everything that I did, believed in, valued, and liked was stupid, worthless, not good enough, etc. I recently remembered an incident when I was young…maybe around 5 (I was young enough to be getting ready for a nap)…where I made myself bleed. I let blood drip into the toilet after I ‘went number 2’ (haha…as someone in the medical field, I’m tempted to write ‘had a bowel movement’ but that seems far too formal…..whatever….you know what I mean). I remember calling for my mom (because, I guess, that’s what all kids do when they’re little… their moms to have them peer over the side of the commode). I vividly remember trying to instill some amount of concern….get some sort of reaction to demonstrate that she cared. I have no idea how I knew that blood in a toilet with poo was a bad sign for your insides, but I wanted to see her care about me. I remember her reaction so clearly. “Oh well. I really don’t care. It’s nap time. If you’re bleeding, you’re bleeding. I can’t do anything to fix it. It’s not like it matters if something happens to you.” I remember laying down for a nap and thinking that I should never have been born, that my family would actually be happy if I were no longer alive. Recalling that memory has caused the flood gates of similar memories to come back to me where I would try and instill some amount of motherly concern from my mom. It never worked. I remember always feeling so unworthy of life after she would repeatedly demonstrate that she didn’t give a rat’s ass.


I have been fortunate enough to know the opposite….and I want this post to reflect just that.

I’ve been quiet in my blog, but have been doing immense work to grow and overcome all of the insecurities and problems that I have relating to people as a result of my fears in growing up. I have been working on finishing the grieving process of Mother, my mother, the woman who raised me from the time I was 21 until she died when I was almost 29. It happens to be that four years ago today is the day she made her transition. I struggled with that. I wanted her to fight her cancer more than she wanted to. I wanted her to continue fighting long after she started her process of becoming ready to pass on to whatever awaits us next. It’s only been in the past couple days that I’ve been able to accept that she was ready to go, that I regrettably wasn’t ready to support her departure. And in light of that, this is my letter to the strongest woman I have ever met, a woman I strive to become more like, not in a self-loathing way…rather….she was so strong, admirable, respectable, amazing that, if I’m half the woman she was, I will be a success as a human being.


My dearest Mother-in-love,

It’s been four years since you were in your human body, breathing ever so slowly, preparing to go. It’s been four years and 6 days since I last heard your voice. It’s been that long since I heard you say “I love you too”. Four years and three days ago, I touched your hand and told you how much I needed you, how much I love you. I don’t know if you heard me. I hope so. I didn’t tell you thank you. I was too mad at you to thank you. I thought you gave up. I thought you quit. I never knew you to quit. I always knew you to fight until you won. I thought that’s what you would do with cancer. I thought you had it in you to be the one ‘five year statistic’. Because you’re Mother. And that’s just what you do. You keep on fighting. You keep on giving everything your everything. I was so mad at you because you were only my mother for far less time than I was ready. I was so angry when you didn’t do your treatment schedule ‘as you should’ because I didn’t have my mother for long enough. I was only your daughter(-in-love) for eight short years. You were leaving me too soon. I was so angry at you! I was so selfishly angry at you.

But now, I see that you were ready. You finished your work here. You finished giving ‘the fruits of your womb’ all the gifts that we all needed. Your legacy had been complete. Amazing and complete. And I thank you.

Thank you for teaching me love. Thank you for showing me joy and happiness and peace. Thank you for showing me what mothers do to fight for their children. And they just do it. Because they do. And they do it out of love. Everything that they do may not be right, but from the deepest place in the heart, out of the most intense love ever known makes it ‘good enough’.

Thank you for allowing me to be the daughter you never had. Thank you for being a constant demonstration of unconditional love that I wished for in my younger years.

Thank you for teaching me how to be a Mother, if I ever decide to have fruits of my own womb. Thank you for sharing so many stories of times of pure motherly bliss from when you were raising your boys. Thank you for so many gifts that you have blessed me so generously with, without even thinking twice. Thank you for loving me anyway. Thank you for loving me as if you had birthed me. Thank you for such deep and genuine and compassionate and unconditional love. Thank you for letting me be me while you be you and we learned to love each other through all the times of trials and laugh heartily through all of the good times. We learned to just be. And sometimes we butted heads, sometimes far uglier than it maybe should have been, just as mothers and daughters tend to do. But I loved you and you loved me.

Thank you for allowing me the gift of a relationship with you separate from mine with your son and yours with your son. Thank you for teaching me what an adult motherly relationship feels like. Thank you for teaching me how to ask for advice…even if sometimes I don’t know I’m asking 🙂

Thank you for welcoming me into your family to teach me what it looks like to BE a family, to be respectful, to be loved, and to be allowed to love.

Thank you for being so honest and true and genuine. Thank you for telling me when you did like something just as readily as when you didn’t like something.

Thank you for showing me and challenging me to be strong with love rather than fear. Thank you for trying to teach me balance. That’s something I am much better at…I think anyway….Thank you for being you and being there. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for everything. Thank you for being a bitch sometimes. Thank you for putting up with me being a bitch. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for being someone to miss so intensely; someone to love so deeply; someone so willingly teach to live, laugh, love; someone to model my personal aspirations after. I wish I could remember what your voice sounds like. I will just have to hold so intently to what your motherly love feels like. And I thank you so deeply for giving me that to hold on to for the rest of my years.

I will always love, appreciate, and honor you.

Forever your daughter-in-love

Learning, not whining

Over the past couple days, I’ve spent a number of hours at work and in my car listening to Shaun T (the fitness guru from Insanity, etc) on his podcasts. One thing that he and his husband address in a podcast makes me want to address something in my life.


I realize that I write of all of these things from my childhood—the way my parents and sister treated me, the way I acted in school—and I could be perceived as whining. I don’t intend it to be whining and complaining in any way. I am finally taking a good, long, deep, hard look at myself, my attitude, my perspectives, my reactions, my feelings, my emotions and understanding exactly WHY certain things are so natural to me. Or were….all of those things that I would easily resort to are starting to unravel as ‘wow….that’s REALLY not natural. Those are REALLY dysfunctional things’. In certain ways…well…in MOST ways, I consider my past as a necessary part of forming and molding my character. I wouldn’t be really looking at certain things, like learning to BE HAPPY and JOYFUL, if I didn’t have the past that I did.

If I had a healthy relationship with my parents, I might not be as appreciative of the strongest woman I’ve ever known. If I grew up in a loving and peaceful and genuine home, I don’t know that I would really be so appreciative and work so hard to have that in my adult years.


I write the blogs that I do and tell the stories that I do because they’re being revealed to me as certain reasons and the backbone of the way I learned to do things. In sharing them and picking them apart, I might help someone realize that they have a bad habit now (that they may or may not realize) because of something that shaped them in their influential years. In my influential years, I learned a lot of anger and hatred and LOUD ‘love’. My better half pointed out that that’s the only language that I’ve understood, up until this point where I’m starting to learn a new language.


I’m grateful for the past that I have because it’s helped to make me as strong, persistent, independent, and strong-willed as I am today. I’m also grateful for the unwinding of those things that used to seem to serve such a functional purpose….and the support of my better half as I deconstruct the only foundation that I’ve ever known and build anew.

The graduating class of ‘We Made It’

“How can you stand your ground when everyone around you wants to bury you in it? You have to BELIEVE that they were wrong. They have to be wrong. Why else would we still be here? …We’re graduating members of the class of ‘We made it’.” (Shane Koyczan)


I find that it’s extremely easy to hate myself, everything I do, everything I stand for. It’s really easy to think that I’m not good enough, smart enough, funny enough, nice enough, sweet enough, thin enough, pretty enough. It’s really easy to think that I shouldn’t be allowed to continue living. But. I am. I’m here still. I tried to change that in the past. But I didn’t. I didn’t follow through. I didn’t do anything about it, even if I wanted to with most of my heart (fear stopped me numerous times). But something in the universe made it so that I didn’t. So that I have survived to this day. So that I’ve lived this life to this point. It’s really easy to hate all that about me.

But it’s so much more beneficial to look at it with a different spin.

“I will love myself despite the ease with which I lean toward the opposite” (from the ted talk with Shane Koyczan)

It’s so much more pleasant to realize all of the obstacles I conquered, all of the things that I’ve learned along the way, all of the chinks I’ve earned in my armor—that used to serve me well and give myself a kudos for a job well done. It’s not easy to dodge normal every day arsenal thrown at us through school—I managed to come out in pretty good form receiving it at home. I will love myself and respect myself for doing the best that I can. Because that really is all that I can expect from myself.


So so so so many times growing up, I heard that I shouldn’t fool myself into thinking that I’ll ever do anything worthwhile, that I shouldn’t be alive, that I don’t deserve to live. Well…I did…and I still am….so how right were they? And…I’m doing a pretty damn good job at learning new things—like having fun and loving.


I’m part of the graduating class of ‘We made it’—thankfully!

Recovering from bullying 

This post is stimulated because of the quote from a Ted Talk (by Shane Koyczan) “I will love myself despite the ease with which I lean toward the opposite”

What I’m about to write isn’t being stated as an excuse; rather an understanding, a reason for why, a moment for change and something new.

I grew up being told that everything that all of my hobbies are stupid, that I’m stupid for liking them. I grew up believing that my parents thought I was one of the dumbest people in the world and that, no matter how hard I worked and tried, they told me that I would never amount to anything.

I loved reading and writing. “That’s stupid. The things you write are stupid. You’re such a bookworm—don’t you do anything ENJOYABLE? Why don’t you do something WORTHWHILE?” When I started reading avidly, I would get excited and share whatever interesting thing I was reading—usually a silly (stupid) little kids’ book. When I was repeatedly made fun of for getting fat because all I do is read and come down from my room for meals, I started to hide how much I was reading. When I started to realize that I was a fat kid, I started to try and learn different ways to work out and lose weight. When my family found out about the desire to lose weight, I was berated “You’ll never lose weight, Thunder Thighs. You’re a failure. Stop wasting your time.” I started to try and learn different exercises that I could secretly do in my room. I also started to hide my snacking. They were right that I wouldn’t lose weight in that part of my life. My weight was a security blanket. Truthfully, I’m not even sure how overweight I actually was as a kid. I hated the camera so most pictures that exist of me are skewed images of my body trying to escape the range of the camera. When I was in my 20’s I realized that I was overweight and I wanted to change it—I was successful……and they made fun of my weight loss.

I grew up not knowing what I really wanted to do ‘when I grew up’ because everything I liked was ‘stupid’ and ‘useless’ and ‘worthless.’

In school, I tried to blend in with the walls, trying to avoid having the teacher call on me. When they did, I would usually know the answer but refuse to give it. I hid my grades. I didn’t really get picked on in school because I was always buried in my books, trying not to be noticed. I was mostly successful.

A lot of kids get bullied at school and their safe haven is home, where, I guess, their parents lift them up and show them love.

My situation was getting abused by my mom (or busting my butt to stay out of her line of fire) and getting bullied at home by my dad and my sister, constantly ridiculed and picked on. I was always told “Oh we’re just teasing” after I was brought to tears and sought solace in my room….but it never felt like teasing. It was always so hurtful and hateful.

EVERY little thing that I did and enjoyed was fair game for attack. I didn’t want to take a chance and stand out in school, risking being a punching bag there too.

It really is no wonder why I hide my passion, apologize for my intelligence, scold myself mercilessly for honest mistakes.


The BENEFIT is that now….Now….It’s nothing like that. I have a loving and supportive relationship where hobbies are encouraged, weaknesses are worked on to become strengths, where mistakes are evidence of room for improvement. I don’t have to defend my love of writing, my passion for learning, my desire to workout. I don’t have to apologize for wanting to try to be creative and not having it turn out JUST RIGHT. I don’t have to apologize for trying and not succeeding. I can be silly and not fear being called stupid. I can laugh and not fear ending up in the line of fire. I can make mistakes, I can be me. I’m free to be me. I’m free to be fun. I don’t have to hide from life anymore.

That’s scary and exciting all at the same time. It’s tough to keep that in mind….It’s something I will have to keep reminding myself.

Comfort is uncomfortable to someone more aquaint with pain.

I listened to her vows. They are a little more Christian-focused than I believe on a spiritual level, but it remains that I felt…..not alone….understood….a little less crazy. I didn’t realize that other people gave up the fight to prove that the other person really would walk away….just like everyone else. 

I enjoy thinking of these parts of her vows:

Comfort is uncomfortable to someone more aquaint with pain than love.

I was a relentless unpredictable storm

So after getting tired of the fight, I decided to give it a try, just to prove to you that you, too, would leave just like my seed and die.

I lost my footing and I kept asking myself ‘who are you?’  While climbing the attractive mount Everest of your mind, I attempted to hike a little higher, to take a peek at your soul. I lost my footing on that trail, dangled off the cliff of the condition of your unconditional, and there is where I fell…in love, skydiving on the wings of your patience. Thank you for catching me with this love—it’s too much. This love is just way too much because you’re a smoldering volcano, erupting upon my arrival…sputtering lava, I mean hot lava, chasing me down, burning the pain of my past, scorching heat on the back of my heels. A fire that just screams ‘let me love you.’ I fell. I am consumed. I am overwhelmed. Did you know that I’m crazy?….It’s hard to breathe when anyone gets close. Stand close and just let me inhale your exhale. Stay close, even when I punch you with my words. Stay close, even when I cut you with my fears. Stay close. Look into my chilling eyes and remember; look at my bleeding knees and remember that I fell for you and it took me 33 years to let that pain die, so that new hope and new life could resurrect. You caught my tears like wilted, warn Bible pages, stored them up in bottles as a reminder that as long as I stay close to him, I will never thirst again….I was so comfortable cocooning

And I know they told you ‘good luck with her’….but your consistent love will make Ella stop having fits and put down her dukes.

I vow that at times I will fail you. I vow that at times I will fall short, but in failures and shortcomings I won’t tap out. I won’t give up….I vow not to buy into false romanticism, saying things like ‘you complete me’ because you don’t. To you and only you, today I give in. To you and only you, I submit


I have a long commute–one I’ve grown to appreciate. It allows for a huge variety of different things: self-reflection in a sort of meditative state, chatting on the phone, catching up on the news or letting the universe pick your songs for you (that’s actually fun: I’ll put pandora on and think “what message do I need to pay attention for today?” It’s usually something amazing). 

This morning, I put on ‘skyscraper’ radio on pandora. It’s my ‘I’m strong and I’ll push through’ station. Last night when I put it on, the first song that played was ‘Let Me Love You’–how perfect for my current situation. Today was a playlist of songs that reminded me ‘you’re human. It’s ok. It really is. It’s ok to have flaws and BE human’ which led me on an interesting journey of emotions. 

A thought popped into my head: oh my god. What, though, if my facade is blown?! What if people I really care about see the real me that I was always told I am? What if my loved ones and friends, who think I’m smart or strong or loving, find out that it’s all just a facade?? What if they think I’m stupid?! What if they see that I’m weak and fragile and afraid?! What if they see that I’m so unloving and undeserving?! What if they realize all that they believed to be true about me is false and they see ‘the truth’?!?! These are people who’s opinions DO matter to me! And what if their current opinions change and they realize just how wrong they were about me???

I remember when I was younger, my mom insisted that my brother and I were stupid. So she poured money into sylvan learning center. I know one part of it was that she liked to feel good that she paid for something ‘good’ for he and I, plus she was convinced that neither of us were smart enough. For my brother, school just wasn’t his thing. He was smart through school but it was boring to him, so he took up being the class clown. I was a pretty much straight A student in the highest level classes. The teachers and tutors couldn’t figure out why my mom made me go to sylvan. I remember one asked me what more she expected and I remember telling him ‘I don’t know–I’m just not good enough and need to be better.’ This teacher reminded me of that four years later when I coordinated with him to shadow him for an education (my then major) requirement. What if my loved ones catch on to how stupid I am?!

What if my better half, my dearest friends realize ‘she’s NOT a beautiful soul! She is ugly! And mean! She is NOT lovable!’

I realize that the journey is a long one, because I ask those questions genuinely. I can step outside myself and realize what I would tell a dear friend with the same questions….but embracing, living it out is a whole different ball game. 

Inch by inch, everything is a cinch………