There were scars before my scars
Love written on the hands that hung the stars



I have a routine for my medical marijuana appointments. A bit of a script. My receptionist-slash-friend I’m sure gets sick of hearing a muffled version of it through the door a dozen times a day. I was back in the office today for the first time in two weeks and I fell right back into it. It concludes with a brief education on the different forms of marijuana offered at the dispensary (… the third form is a tincture. It’s a liquid form that sprays or drops into your mouth under your tongue and absorbs in through the inside lining of your mouth. It takes fifteen minutes to kick in and lasts about 3-4 hours. It’s a discrete form to use if you’re in a situation where you wouldn’t want to be vaping and it’s easy to get small, tightly controlled doses…). There are visual aids. I am very attached to them. As I was going through them today I noticed with embarrassment that my nails are covered in sloppy, chipped pink nail polish. I tried to kind of fold in the top of my finger at the knuckle but it looked awkward so I told myself patients really aren’t focused on nail cosmetics in such a moment and I moved on.

I let my daughter paint my nails New Year’s Eve after I finished painting hers. I offered to paint hers to help her calm down. I don’t remember what she was upset about but painting her nails did the trick. Letting her paint mine took her from okay to happy. She’s in a flare of her autoimmune condition right now, so it was a gift to see her smile.

I’m in a time of transition right now and life is not easy. Transition isn’t supposed to be easy. I’m kind of sick of recurrent transitions at this point to be honest with you, but it is what it is.

I find myself in a situation I have never been in in the forty years I’ve been alive: I am not living with anyone who is constantly gaslighting me. Stop and consider that. I am not walking on eggshells and neither are my kids. Which means I’m not walking on eggshells to keep the gaslighter happy but I’m also not walking on eggshells trying to protect my kids from the gaslighter. There’s no eggs, folks. Just hardwood and recently installed shag carpeting that is really quite nice and soft. We all walk around the house, run even, and there isn’t a yolk in sight. No little bits of shell sticking to the side of the bowl or hiding in our scrambled eggs. Nada.

We are light. We are safe. Even when we are tired and stressed and hangry, we are free. Free to feel whatever it is we’re feeling and talk about it and draw about it and write about it. Safe in knowing we can lose our temper and then feel bad and apologize and we will forgive each other and talk about it and things will be okay. We will still love each other. We can be vulnerable. We can say what it is we want and know we won’t be shamed for it. (We might not get it, but we won’t be judged for wanting it and asking for it). We can try out different looks and hobbies and foods and goals and dreams and then change our minds and no one gets upset. We have privacy and boundaries.

I have never had this and neither have my kids and that’s incredibly fucked up. Period. I literally didn’t realize it was possible to live this way. For forty years. It’s like being trapped in a one woman cult. At least in a cult you have someone with you.

The center of our family is no longer a gaslighter that we must keep balanced. We are the center of our family, all of us. Each of us gets to be our own person.

I need to tell you the difference this has made.

Our immune systems function better. Our anxiety has plummeted. The picky eaters are much less picky. The anger levels are down. We sleep better. All four of the kids have noticeably matured. Things flow like they’ve never flowed.

We have people back in our lives we couldn’t have before. Good people. We are not an isolated cult anymore.

I’ve found myself listening to the same music I did ten years ago, during the time I met my most recent gaslighter. During our courtship. Songs about being broken. Songs about love saving you. About struggling ultimately making you better. It reminds me of who I was then. I was sad and struggling to hold myself together enough to graduate medical school. Surviving. Two sons with a horrible disorder no one was diagnosing or treating correctly. Me with my own severe PTSD no one was diagnosing or treating correctly. Living with my original gaslighter, the source of me. Wanting so badly to get away but so afraid to at the same time. So ashamed of myself. Wanting redemption so badly. To be saved in some many ways. Into the lion’s den she went. A decade she survived.

And I have emerged, my children in tow. Blinking back the bright sun.

I’m glad my kids didn’t have to wait forty years for this. I’m glad I did this. It was hard. It is hard. But most things worth doing are.

That’s one of those things I always tell my kids.  And it is not a script.

The cut is deep, but never deep enough for me
It doesn’t hurt enough to make me forget
One moment of relief is never long enough
To keep the voices in my head
From stealing my peace
Oh, control
It’s time, time to let you go
Perfection has a price
But I cannot afford to live that life
It always ends the same; a fight I never win
Oh, control
It’s time, time to let you go
I’m letting go of the illusion
I’m letting go of the confusion
I can’t carry it another step
I close my eyes and take a breath
I’m letting go, letting go
There were scars before my scars
Love written on the hands that hung the stars
Hope living in the blood that was spilled for me
Oh, control
It’s time, time to let you go
It’s time, time to let you go