By Sarit Z. Rogers
“I was the one who was forgotten,” she said.
I had just received another disturbing, gaslighting message from my mom. More shaming, lies and delusion tossed at me like a baseball lobbed toward a player with his back turned.
I am tired.
It’s exhausting to process this much hate thrust upon me by someone who is “supposed” to love me, care about me and be kind to me. By someone who is supposed to be someone I can lean on in times of trouble. Of course, those are merely things I assume to be the norm. In my case, and in my family of origin, this is not the norm.
Parenting is a difficult job: it requires unrequited love and compassion, patience, sacrifice, dedication and care. When my son was born, I made a promise not to repeat the experiences I had with my mother.
Despite my promise, I found myself stuck as most abused kids are: hoping for love and care, stuck hoping for a parent to—well, parent me. I was perpetually under stress, both because my mom was overbearing and creating drama and because of the abusive relationship with my ex. Still, I did everything I could to protect my son.
I loved him so completely that I finally got away.
I asked for help from my father, who told me that I had “asked for it,” and “probably pissed him off” when I relayed the story of the abuse I was dealing with. I was truly alone but I was determined to get out.
To get free.
To protect my son.
I was diagnosed with PTSD. It explained the debilitating panic attacks, the night terrors, the flashbacks and my shot-out nervous system. It all started to make sense. And once that happened, I was able to get help.
I started to meditate, I got back on my mat and found safety in my yoga practice again. I learned to lean in. I learned that compassion was not only for others, but also for myself. I learned that in order for me to care for my son, I had to touch the dark, sticky spaces in my heart and hold my wounded self with compassion and care.
That was eight years ago.
I have since dedicated my life to helping others. Compassion has become a practice that I do every single day. My relationship with my son is one of the most precious aspects of my life.
My relationship with myself is on par.
I have a husband that sees me and supports me; loves all of me—even the messy parts. I teach yoga to adolescents; I teach to those whose suffering is unimaginable; I volunteer and help others who have far less than I do.
I remember what it was like to be the “other.” I intimately know the hurt. To be able to hold space for those who continue to be seen as “other” is an honor.
But back my mom. I often ask myself what makes it so hard for me to send her the same compassion and care I would to the sick and dying, or the traumatized?
I was the one forgotten when you called me a cunt at 5 because of your untended anger and trauma.
I was the one forgotten when you allowed a homeless man to live with us and chose him over me.
I was the one forgotten when you brought different men home, many of whom hated children.
I was the one forgotten when your friends told you they didn’t like children and you chose to spend time with them anyway.
I was the one forgotten when your homeless “boyfriend” tried to strangle me and you defended him.
I was the one forgotten when you repeatedly told me of all of your abortions as though I was the one who should support YOU.
I was the one forgotten when you went behind my back and told my friends I was a horrible person.
I was the one forgotten when you blamed me for my ex-husband’s sexual abuse, telling him how awful I was.
I was the one forgotten when you sabotaged my relationship with my step-daughter for your own gain.
I was the one forgotten when you showed up at my son’s school and told them you didn’t think I would pick him up, even when I had never failed to do so.
I was the one forgotten when you would have sex at the same time I was leaving for school, forcing me to walk by you on my way out.
I was the one forgotten when I was suffering from anxiety and depression because of your neglect and untended mental illness.
I think I know now. I think I understand. With each interaction, I am retraumatized. She places blame where it doesn’t belong. When I see her, I am kind—I am non reactive, but I feel sick inside. My heart hurts; the tears burn as they slide down my face.
She does too, but not from me. That is the truth. It hurts and I sometimes forget that I am not invincible.
Sarit Z Rogers is a Los Angeles based photographer, writer, yoga teacher, body image advocate, activist, and co-founder of the LoveMore Movement. She has photographed the covers of 21st Century Yoga, Yoga PhD, and Yoga and Body Image. Her images have been featured in several magazines including Mantra, Yoga Journal, Lira, Sweat Equity, Revolver, and more. Her writing has appeared at Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, Elephant Journal and the Yoga and Body Image Coalition’s blog.
Sarit’s writing is from the heart, raw, and stems from a life of recovery and survival. She writes from a place of resilience, cracking her heart open one word at a time. With over 20 years in recovery, Sarit appreciates the reparative nature of a consistent yoga and meditation practice. Yoga is like medicine—it is a modality that allows the practitioner to move through their difficulties with pause and sensitivity, applying what is necessary to heal the wounds within.
Sarit teaches a trauma sensitive vinyasa flow to high-schoolers, middle schoolers, private clients, and small groups. She can be found online on her photography site, www.lovemoremovement.com, and her yoga website. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.
Editor: Dana Gornall