Their Acceptance Is Not Worth Your Freedom

I spent much of my life trying to hide who I was, convinced I wasn’t worthy of being loved. After all, if I had been worthy of love, then people who said they loved me wouldn’t have left. Wouldn’t have betrayed me. Wouldn’t have hurt me. It became clear that to be loved I would have to hide my true self; this girl with the fierce mind, wild spirit and poet’s heart.

I learned to hide these things and instead be whatever I needed to be to fit in and gain acceptance. I learned how to make myself the same, how to make myself small, how to make myself submissive. I learned how to make myself silent. I learned how to conform.

I learned these things will actually gain you the acceptance you’re looking for.

I also learned the cost of that acceptance is freedom.

Their acceptance is not worth your freedom.

There is nothing lonelier than existing separated from who we really are, than spending each day in captivity to the expectations of others, than denying the true heart within us that aches to be set free.

The road to self-acceptance has been a hard one; to finally have arrived at this place where I believe I am worthy of love exactly as I am. Where I will never again settle for anything less. Where I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of all that I am. It has taken me so long to be at peace with both the light and dark in me. To see my scars as victory stripes earned by overcoming every goddamn battle I’ve faced, and not just ugly reminders of how unworthy I am; how unloveable.

Freedom comes when we learn to accept and love who we are, exactly as we are. Including the regrets, the mistakes, the choices we made when we had no other choice. Including the bad days and the messy days and the godforsaken days where darkness wraps itself around us and we take comfort in the bleak heaviness that falls upon our souls. We cannot choose to love only the parts of ourselves we think are acceptable and not the rest, we cannot love ourselves only in pieces and expect to be complete. And if we cannot love ourselves completely, we will never be able to love another that way either.

Becoming our true selves in a conformist world is an act of rebellion. I have lost many people from my life who don’t like that I no longer fit inside their boxes. How dare we be different. How dare we make people uncomfortable. How dare we be so defiant. Fuck the haters. People will rarely tolerate the freedom they see in others that they choose to deny for themselves. And if others are not capable of love without conditions then we are better off without their love. Because once we have truly learned to love ourselves with the kind of love we deserve, we soon realise that anything less than that will never be enough for us anyway.

~ ©️ Kathy Parker ~

And Sometimes This Is Healing

And sometimes healing is oceans upon shorelines; tides that crash upon the thirst of empty sands, replenishing all the midday sun has scorched from our dry bones, made full once more until the moon calls the tide back again and suddenly we, too, feel pulled back to where we once came from. We clench our toes into sand that crumbles beneath our feet, powerless to fight against the grip of the tide; once again at the mercy of waves we can no longer find the strength to keep our head above anymore.

But here’s the thing about the ocean. She is forever a contradiction; wild yet gentle, fierce yet calm, rising yet falling, taking; yet always giving back. A coming together and pulling apart; the universe as it dances to the music of the night sky.

This, too, is how we heal; forward, then back again.

Such is the ebb and flow of our existence.

There is no right way to heal. We will rise, and fall. We will triumph, and fail. One day we will stand on shorelines, soaking saltwater healing into our pores; the next, we will find ourselves pulled below by our pain once more.

We must allow ourselves these undulations; forgive ourselves for the frailty of which we cling to at times. For it’s when we resist these laws of nature we struggle the most; yet is this not what the ocean comes to teach us, whispering her secrets to our parched souls: healing comes the moment we surrender to grace.

~ ©️ Kathy Parker ~

Thank You for Teaching Me I Was Worth More Than You: An Open Letter to the One Who Nearly Broke Me, But Not Quite

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“You didn’t love her. You just didn’t want to be alone. Or maybe, maybe she was good for your ego. Or maybe she made you feel better about your miserable life. But you didn’t love her, because you don’t destroy the person that you love” (Grey’s Anatomy)

When I look back now, it’s hard to believe I ever thought you loved me. How desperate I must have been to call that love when in your hands I became so small; crushed by the heaviness of your fingers as they pressed into my skin, the imprint faded but still visible after all this time. How eroded my worth became with each crash of furious words that washed against the already worn breakwaters of my heart. How afraid I became of not just you, but of everything I once was that I no longer trusted myself to be, for fear I would take a wrong step and set off another landmine beneath the surface of your skin.

You left that day, stopping only to push the knife in a little deeper on your way out the door. The pain was so great I hoped to bleed out, right there on the floor where you left me. I wondered if I could survive what you had done to me; if I even wanted to. But resilience has always coursed through my veins faster than sorrow and though weak, I found the courage to pick myself up from the floor that day.

It all seems so long ago now. How far I have come since these pale scars were once open wounds. How distant the taste of bitterness upon my tongue now seems. I’ve long since stopped wanting to call, to write, to tell you of all the ways you nearly broke me, but not quite. Instead, I have come to realise should I ever pass by you on the street, there is only two words I would need to say.

Thank you.

Thank you for teaching me I will never again settle for someone who can destroy a woman and call that love; who can not only justify their abuse through victim-blaming, but make a woman believe they actually deserved such abuse.

Thank you for teaching me I will never again be controlled by another in a relationship; that I am the keeper of my own life, my own choices and my own relationships and I’m entitled to live my life with freedom, and not be imprisoned by another person’s power over me.

Thank you for teaching me I need not compromise who I am and all I believe in order to be loved; that I do not need to scrape my knees on the ground of another’s approval, nor ever apologise for who I am to those who choose not to accept me regardless.

Thank you for teaching me I do not need another to complete me; that I am better off being alone than ever being with someone who does not love me with respect, kindness, thoughtfulness, gentleness, acceptance.

Thank you for teaching me never to look back; for all the apologies that didn’t reach your eyes, for all the promises spoken through lying teeth, for all the times I did come back only to end up more shattered by you each time.

Thank you for helping me understand men like you never change.

Thank you for teaching me I deserve more than you.

Thank you for teaching me about love.

The kind of love you could never give.

The kind of love I am worth.

The kind of love I will only ever accept from another so long as they can love me the way I have finally learned to love myself.

To the Mother who Struggles, I Promise You: This Too Shall Pass

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I was twenty-one years-old when my first son entered the world. He came early; two weeks before his expected date, and with such haste the midwife delivered him before the doctor made an appearance. After him, there were three more – my second son and two daughters, all within six years, all with their own birth stories, their own personalities, their own idiosyncrasies that make them unmistakably who they are; vastly different from one another despite being raised so symmetrically.

I hadn’t planned on having my first child so soon; life had chosen otherwise. Though married, I was young. In hindsight, too young. But, I was determined to be prepared. I read pregnancy books, birthing books, parenting books. I was prepared for the ways my body would change. I was prepared for the ways my life would change.

But I wasn’t prepared for the ways I would change.

I can say now that being a mother has been the best thing I have ever done; the best part of who I am. But I couldn’t always have said that. I glance back to those early days and my fingers slip through the faded recollection of how difficult they actually were; a decade that passed me by through a filter of exhaustion and loneliness. There were so many days I struggled for air, so many days I wept for the village that was nowhere to be found; moreover, wept for the woman I once was, also nowhere to be found. I grieved for her – the responsibilities and obligations of motherhood had taken her from me and in her place stood a foreigner, a woman I no longer recognised or wanted to be.

I hadn’t expected to feel such a loss of my own identity, to become so desolate in the abyss of who I used to be and who I had yet to become. I hadn’t expected to feel so unanchored, so adrift, so alone. Once extroverted, confident and capable, I soon found myself flailing helplessly in an ocean of my own inadequacies.

We lived on a 2500-acre farm in rural South Australia, aka the middle of nowhere, or so it seemed. I had no family close by, no support network to turn to. While my friends undertook university courses, careers, travel, I no longer even seemed capable to leave the house without deteriorating into a mire of irrational anxiety. Exhausted, burnt out, worn out, I lost my confidence, my capabilities, my ambition, my passion, and most days it appeared, my mind, too.

It wasn’t an issue of love; a woman’s heart will never beat with such fierceness as for that which she has created within herself. It was the belief that because I loved my children, I should love being a mother. But I didn’t. All I felt was the loneliness, the isolation, the invisibility, the loss of self, the ambivalence, the exhaustion, the guilt, the shame of all I lacked. Every night I would collapse into bed, overcome with guilt that I couldn’t be what they needed me to be, that I wasn’t as capable as other mothers, that I wasn’t enough. I would lie awake, despondent, reciting promises in my head – tomorrow I will try harder, tomorrow I will do better. But always, they fell short. Always, I fell short.

I wasn’t prepared for those feelings, for the mental and emotional upheaval that came with being a mother. These were the things not written in books, the things nobody speaks of because we’re all too busy being ashamed of our scarcity, too worried everything we feel is wrong, too afraid of being judged by those we compare ourselves to. When little do we know, they too stand inside the valley of their own inadequacies and break apart for how short they believe they fall in their comparison to us.

This year I will celebrate my sixteenth Mother’s Day. It has taken me this long to find the joy in being a mother. To no longer wake each morning to the words – this too shall pass – scrawled on sticky-notes on my bathroom mirror. To love and appreciate all my children bring to my life. To understand what it means to hold, first in my womb and now in my arms, the next generation – a generation I have been given the privilege to teach of compassion, tolerance, respect, kindness, goodness, love. A generation of world-changers.

It’s taken sixteen years to understand that being a mother is not something we are, but something we become. As we watch our children grow and learn from us, likewise, we grow and learn from them. They awaken us; force us to pay attention as we tread upon unsure ground, help us find our footing and become decided in our steps even when we walk in darkness. They soften our hard edges as they teach us of patience, sacrifice, unconditional love. They help us forgive our own humanity through the grace we offer theirs. They show us what it means to love as a result of the love they give to us, even when we are undeserving of such a profuse gift – especially when we are undeserving of such a profuse gift – and because of that, we are found better.

There is no way, sixteen years ago, I could have been prepared for the ways being a mother would change me. But nor could I have ever been prepared for the way my children would become the most beautiful part of everything I am today.

Original article published at SA Life Magazine

Leave Me Here In The Wilderness

Leave me here in the wilderness,

let me wander upon lost paths

where fallen limbs and bracken

cause my feet to stumble astray,

deeper down the unknown roads

that lead me further into myself.

Let my soul become entangled

with ivy and creeper and vine

as it twines through damp forest

and twists around my sad anguish.

Let moss grow upon my shadows

until sunlight warms my bitter grief.

Let me grope through darkness,

and my heart taste its sour wrath

as it unleashes, wild and savage,

upon the fury of its torn injustice,

until there is only hushed silence

broken by the weep of surrender.

Let my spirit be found crushed

in valleys of dust and drought.

Let me be consumed with thirst

as I wait upon winds of the earth

to breathe life into my dry bones

and mend me back to abundance.

Do not take my hand and lead me

from this journey I choose to abide,

but leave me here in the wilderness

where for now, I must live untamed,

for I am young, and so very broken,

and there is still much to be learned.

~ © Kathy Parker ~

The Unravelled Heart, a profoundly true reflection on trauma, abuse, love, loss and healing, now available worldwide on Amazon http://amzn.to/2BIvFhp

Your Story is What the World is Waiting For

And don’t ever be afraid to tell your story.

Don’t ever feel it is too small, too insignificant, too humble.

Don’t ever feel your voice is too faint to be heard. That your words are too shaky to hold their own ground.

The world is already over-crowded with voices of self-importance; voices that make noise but not change. Tired of people telling us what to believe, we put our earphones in and tune them out. We are no longer interested in the ideas and opinions of others; our hearts ache for something more. For connection. For relationship. For something that parallels what we understand about our own lives. To be part of something bigger than ourselves.

Our hearts ache to hear stories.

Stories of those who have fallen, but who withstood all odds to hold steady on their feet once more. Who have shed blood to overcome an adversity of which we still falter in the wake of our mistakes. Whose knees are scraped from the crawl and who have earned every battle scar etched on their triumphant faces and who no longer raise the flag of a victim or a survivor, but instead, a goddamn warrior.

We long to hear stories of those who have gone before and paved the way for us, who have endured transformation to become a catalyst for a new uprising of which our hearts are drawn to. We long to know we are not alone in our suffering, that our pain is validated, that our struggle is understood.

We long to know we are human.

Our stories are what makes us human.

They are the thread that weaves us together, words that collapse from our tongues and carry down through the generations. Our history, our legacy.

I know you feel inadequate, unqualified. I know you feel your voice will never be heard amongst those who shout from the rooftops and mountains. But, my love, your quiet and gentle voice will be what makes the world stop still, and listen. There is power in your story; in the truth you speak to the world; so vulnerable yet so unashamed.

Courage: to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.

Find courage, dear one.

For just as it only takes one stone to create a ripple, so it only takes one voice to create a revolution.

~ ©️ Kathy Parker ~

Day Eight #poemadayfeb: Escape

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For years my hands have been wrapped
around a glass but I’m three days sober
and there is nothing pretty about that as
I turn up to his doorstep; weather-beaten
and covered in flaxen dust from the many

roads I have taken to find my way there.
He takes a damp cloth and with careful
hands wipes away the years that sweat
from the empty cracks between my skin.
Our words are superseded with kisses;
his lips become a barricade that keeps
my
fear from spilling onto the ground.
There is a part of me (the part that was
brave enough to tip my last bottle down
the drain) that tells me I should go kneel
before an alt
ar and pray hail mary’s to
God, but religion could never calm the
destruction inside me the way he can,
and even though I made a promise to
him that last time would be the last, we
come together, flesh on flesh; desperate.
Again and again I lose myself in him until
the thirst is no longer a lion clawing at my
throat, until my darkness is hushed by the
constellations mapped inside of his eyes.
Our bodies stay wrapped in the seclusion
of one another and I tell him this time will
be the last, for we are lovers whose hands
are too splintered from the cross we both
carry to hold each other safe, but we have
always been the same, trading addictions
for one other instead; grasping not for our
satisfaction, but our escape.

~ ©️ Kathy Parker // My Sweetest Downfall ~

Day Six #poemadayfeb: Escape

Day Three #poemadayfeb: Haiku

Tears were not enough
To wash away my sadness
I wept an ocean.

 

~ ©️Kathy Parker // Haiku ~

Day Three #poemadayfeb: Haiku (A Japanese poem that consists of three lines – 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables, often mentioning nature)

Their Forgiveness Isn’t Your Responsibility

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There are times we hurt others. Whether purposefully or inadvertently, it makes little difference. We have still damaged another through our own actions, and so we seek to make that right. It hurts us to know we have hurt another; we ask forgiveness and seek restoration in the hope to receive grace from those we have wronged.

We hope for the best outcome. We hope for what we perceive as fair.

Sometimes though, we don’t receive forgiveness, no matter how sorry we are. No matter how much we try and make it right. And it’s hard to accept, it’s hard to let go of the injustice we feel at not being granted the forgiveness we had so hoped for.

But this is what we need to remember.

Their forgiveness isn’t your responsibility.

Your responsibility is this: To admit your mistakes. To own your actions. To seek forgiveness. To make right the things you can. To let go of the things you can’t. To learn, to grow, to recognise behaviours in you that have hurt others and change them. To mindfully choose to be a better person, and take necessary action required for that to happen.

But their forgiveness isn’t your responsibility.

We don’t get to control the way others think of us or what they choose to believe about us. We can stand before them with our heart in our hands and ask them to see it – to see us ­– for who we are and not for what we’ve done. But we can’t make someone forgive us who is determined to only believe the worst of us. Who is determined to hold tight to their judgement, their bitterness, their animosity.

This is a hard lesson for people like us to learn.

People like us, who believe in forgiveness. Who give second chances. Who understand the human condition, the way we fail and fall. Who choose to believe people are good, and that until we have walked a mile in their shoes, we will never fully understand the choices they have made. Nor the mistakes they have made, and why they have made them.

We are people who believe mercy triumphs over judgement, and we choose to love others with grace and with second chances, understanding the frailty of our own humanity. And it can be hard to accept there are people who don’t live like this, who don’t love like this.

But what matters is these people aren’t our judges, nor are they our jury. We don’t belong in their courtroom.

What they choose to believe about us is their choice, and who we are isn’t dictated by who they try and make us believe we are.

When we have taken responsibility for our actions, when we have owned our wrongs and sought to make them right, when we have asked forgiveness and reached for reconciliation, then we have done all we need to do. We are no longer bound by their unforgiveness but can walk away knowing we are worthy of our own grace, even when they are unwilling to extend theirs.

What others choose to believe of us is not the truth. It is only their opinion. Only their judgement. Only the evidence of their unenlightened heart.

Their forgiveness isn’t your responsibility.

We don’t always get the outcome we hope for.

But when we have done all we can do, it’s no longer our burden to carry. Just because someone isn’t willing to forgive us, doesn’t make us unforgivable.

Unshackled from the chains of their unforgiveness, we can now run free under skies of grace and redemption.

We can now rise strong.

The Unravelled Heart, a profoundly true reflection on trauma, abuse, love, loss and healing, now available worldwide on Amazon http://amzn.to/2BIvFhp

Image courtesy weheartit.com

To The Mother Who is Struggling

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Dear Mother Who is Struggling,

I know you haven’t been yourself lately.

I see it in the way your eyes no longer carry the light the way they used to, their colour faded; like an old photograph that once held a cherished memory, now lost.

Your frown lines have deepened, they outnumber the lines of laughter that once etched the sides of your face, back when your joyful smile would reach that far, back when your shoulders were straight and the weight of your tiredness didn’t pull you down.

You love your babies, I know you do.

But this is hard.

And you are tired. So damn tired.

And maybe this is what adds to the tiredness; the guilt that you shouldn’t feel this way. You wonder if you’re the only mother out there who feels so isolated, so alone, so exhausted. Or do they all have these villages you hear of; support networks of family and friends who share the burden of raising a family, while you wake up each morning and wonder how you will get through another day on your own?

There was a world you used to belong to, and you grieve it. It’s there in front of you, every day, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – there, in the radiant faces of other women as they go about their social lives, their holidays, gym classes, dates, promotions. You wonder how, in a world so connected by social media, you are left feeling so goddamn disconnected from it all.

Surrounded by little people, noise, clutter, you find yourself lonelier than ever. But it’s not a loneliness from being alone. It’s a loneliness that comes from being so far from yourself, so far from who you once were. You don’t even know who that is anymore. You feel as though you’ve traded your whole identity to be a mother. Sacrificed your entire life to care for those around you. This is all you know now. This is all your life has become.

And you miss the woman you once were, and the life you once had.

You long for your independence, your spontaneity, your carefree. For road trips and dinner dates and live music and nights out in the city. For beach days and lazy Sundays in bed and to read a book, uninterrupted. Drained, you yearn for the things that bring nurture to your tired body and soul as you force yourself through another day on the scarce remnants of what you have left to give.

Around you, other mothers appear cool, unflustered; they’ve got this. You wonder if they catch a glimpse of the defeat in your eyes before you look the other way, if they can sense the effort it takes to simply place one foot in front of the other.

I know this is hard. But take heart, dear one.

It won’t always be this way. It won’t always be so hard. Days will get easier. There will be more moments to be still, to breathe, more moments to laugh again. There will be more moments where you can reach inside and find the misplaced pieces of the woman you used to be, and the days will begin to feel less lonely as you journey back to your own heart.

I know you think the way you struggle makes you a failure. That because of this, you fall short and aren’t enough. Don’t believe these lies. Be gentle on your heart, for every day you face the hardest job, alone, and you make it through. No matter how hard, you don’t give up. You show up, and continue to do the best with what you have. And some days that may not seem like enough.

But every day, you continue to love.

And that will always be more than enough.

I know this is hard. But for now, this is all you need to know.

This too shall pass.  

And when you close your eyes tonight, write those words on the back of your eyelids, and watch as they fall away beneath your skin and seep into your bloodstream where they will reach your heart and kiss it with the hope that will get you through your tomorrows.

You may not feel it today, but I promise you, my love – you’ve got this.

Image courtesy The Winged Woman