What defines you?
There are these huge moments in our lives that shape who we are and what we might become. We experience moments of inspiration, moments of change, moments of weakness and moments that shift the very core of our being.
These moments grow to define us, we look back on them as forks in the road, events that shaped our outlook or life trajectory. Sometimes these moments are positive- the birth of a child; and sometimes they’re negative- the death of a loved one.
For a long time I’ve been avoiding a narrative, an event that certainly shaped my outlook on life and affected the kind of person I want to be. It shaped the way I approach relationships, the way I interact with others, my deepest fears in life and the way I feel about addiction.
Before I was two years old my mother abandoned me.
She didn’t leave me in a trash can, or put me at a fire station, but she did make a series of decisions that led her to choose a life outside of our family.
It’s been a struggle for me to reconcile why she would have done that, because I have ping ponged between an approach of love and an approach of hate (I find that it’s easier to hate in this instance). But, as I’ve grown as a person I’ve tried to reason with myself on why she did it: she was overwhelmed, she didn’t want a third child, she was unhappy in her marriage, she wanted to follow her dreams, she felt trapped, etc. The truth of the matter is, over the years the narrative has been subtly painted for me through others opinions, comments and the lines I’ve been able to read between. The truth of the matter is, she couldn’t handle it (her life that happened to her), didn’t want to, and used alcohol as a tool to deal with it.
She preferred the alcohol over her responsibility to me.
It’s taken me so much time to cope with that. I’m still coping. I’ll be coping forever.
But I’ve found peace and resolve and strength in her choices.
Her choices set my life on a very distinct path. Her actions shaped the lives of all of her children, and my father- who became a single dad at that time. She caused us such hardship, especially him. She left behind two children that loved her, but also a baby that would never ever have a single positive memory to attach to her. She left me with years of negative impressions and suppressed memories and the smell of alcohol on her breath and virgins slims cigarettes. She left me with years of questions about my inadequacies, fear of rejection and a hole in my heart where feminine wisdom should have lived.
But most importantly, she left me with empathy. She left me with a sense of emotional connection and awareness to other people all around me. Even as a child, I have always put the feelings of others ahead of my anger, joy or hopes. I constantly worried how my actions might affect my dad or my sister, and I saw other people as fragile.
Because they were. She made others fragile with her choices, but she only made me stronger.
Her abandonment made me independent.
Her abandonment made me reevaluate what I want out of life, and the choices I make – because I want to get it right.
Her abandonment made me thoughtful about every decision I made towards my future.
Her abandonment made me critical.
Her abandonment made me want to be a mom, so I could do it better; the way I wished I’d had a mom.
Her abandonment made me self aware, and hungry to know myself.
Her abandonment made me dream about and plan for my future.
Her mistakes will not be my own, and her guilt will not belong to me.
Members of my family have tried to make me feel guilty for not creating a relationship with her. They’ve insisted I should be the “bigger person” and connect with her, to know her now that we’re both adults. This used to make me angry; make me furious.
Not now. Now I know me better. Now I can calmly explain that it’s not what I want, and that I have a vision for my life. I have standards of how I spend my time, and who is invited to share it with me.
Okay, but let’s be real, it also still makes me a little angry.
My life is short, and full of love and strength- because she abandoned me.
So, own your stories. Happy, or sad, they have shaped you. Own what makes you brilliant or broken, and be the Phoenix you want to be. Spin your story, change your heart, make your life.
Because, you’ve only got one.
Morgan Messick is a Pop-Culture fanatic, Podcast Host, Booktuber & total #BookBabe living in Austin, TX with her Husband and two dogs — Scoop & Eleanor. She aspires to grow her #TBR pile, do all of the hiking, travel as often as possible and make a joke at every turn. She utilizes laughter and yoga for daily medicine, thinks that Harry Potter is magic for all ages, and truly believes Die Hard is a great Christmas movie (SO DEAL WITH IT.)
Catch her musings here, and around the web — links in the “about” page!