I wanted to share three things from my brief visit home a few weeks ago.
I didn't tell my parents I was coming. I needed to protect my mental health by setting boundaries: the purpose of the trip was not about them and I would not stay overnight at their house. I am often subject to negative comments about my life, my appearance and all my "shortcomings" whenever I interact with them. It has become more severe in the past few years after moving away. The quick visit shut down any opportunity to create a negative impact.
I didn't take my coat off for nearly 3 hours because the size of my arms is always a comment my mother insists on making. I finally took off my coat for a few minutes and she immediately commented how big they had gotten, bigger than hers.
My mother asked me to look at a few of my old things in the basement to donate. I came across my portfolio from art school. One photography project I had done were close ups of my family's eyes. I titled it “I Hate I Try.” My mother saw a print of herself, snatched it and immediately tore it to pieces. I exclaimed that those prints were mine and she couldn't stop saying how embarrassed she was of all the imperfections in her skin.
These are moments I have been reflecting on and learning to acknowledge trauma on so many levels. I was asked a few months ago and again recently if I would ever confront my mother about these things but it will take some time. I don't know how long. But I know one day I will be able to sit in front of her and not feel like a reflection, but a person. More importantly, a daughter that wants to be seen.