I’m sleeping on my mom’s couch. It’s not an ideal living situation, but the couch is comfortable, and the view is amazing. I get gently trampled by her two cats at odd times in the night, and my mom has to keep quiet as she leaves for work. It has also forced my mom to smoke her cigarettes outside, in -20°C. I decided to write about it because I’m not sure how to process the shame I feel right now.
I’ve been through university, and gotten a degree. I used to have a job that paid well, and could probably find another one. Then I lost that job, and a lot of things I kept sweeping under the rug came rushing back into my life. My family has dealt with alcoholism, and we didn’t really talk about it or process it after my parents’ divorce. It seemed like everyone went their own way, and the sense of family was lost. I was not eager to revisit the site of so much trauma. Now, it’s clear to me that I was more affected by it than I thought, and I can’t just process it all on my own.
In my culture, family is very important. It’s part of our identity. And I’m especially sensitive to that. I have a terrible time letting go of people, and my family is probably going to be in my life forever. Rather than try to change that, I decided to give my all when my mom suggested family therapy. Before then, I was trying to distance myself from family, out of frustration and a feeling of abandonment. I wasn’t doing well, and I felt like they could have done more to help me. Really, I wanted for them to insist on helping me, and open their homes to give me a place to grieve and process the years of trauma that we never talked about. But I didn’t want to ask, because I was ashamed, and that shame kept me quiet.
So, a few weeks after we started family therapy, my mom made some changes in her life and welcomed me in her home. I was so touched that I cried. I hadn’t lived with her since my parents’ divorce. I missed her, and I missed being taken care of by someone who cares about me unconditionally. It still feels weird, and tricky. There’s a lot of history that we share, and a good part of it is very unpleasant. Getting over that and the fact that I’m 31 and sleeping on my mom’s couch is going to take some time. Maybe it’ll never make sense, and maybe the shame won’t go away. But I feel some healing happening in this awkward in-between space, and it’s worth dealing with the shame. I’m not weak. I’m strong for going through this, and talking about it. And I love my mom.