The Free Motion Quilting Project: A Turning Point

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Turning Point

I have to apologize again for the weird week. This is not a usual occurrence for me to get sucked into a quilt so completely I leave the world behind. But this needed to happen, so please bear with me as I share the experience and the revelations that have come to me over the last two days.

Of course, I need to start with another warning that I will discuss things in this post you may not want to know, particularly issues with my mother, verbal abuse, and finally finding the turning point to my life.

On Tuesday I spent most of the day preparing the pattern pieces for Sinkhole. This quilt really is a two step process - first prepare a double layered, thick piece of freezer paper, mark the individual pieces on top and cut it out.

The second step is to iron the freezer paper onto the fabric, turn the raw, outer edge using spray starch against the edge of the freezer paper, then layer the new piece with the others.

This is a highly modified version of Sharon Shamber's Piecelique technique, but instead of popping open the pieces and seaming them together, I've just been removing the freezer paper and machine appliqueing over the top to secure the layers together.

So Tuesday was largely spent drawing and cutting, and of course thinking.

It's easy to think while doing rather mindless tasks like tracing shapes and cutting them out carefully. I didn't try to distract my brain with an audiobook or even music and simply allowed my mind to wander freely, dealing with the thoughts and issues that surfaced.

Since my son was born in 2007, I have made enormous leaps in understanding, not just about myself, but also the people around me. I guess you could say I've become a student of psychology because the books that fascinate me the most are the ones that explain WHY we act the way we do in certain situations.

For years I've sought understanding of not just why my parents were bad parents (the endless cycles of abuse and dysfunction, depression, and alcoholism were probably the most significant reasons), but also why I would sometimes take their behavior (anger and verbal abuse) to the playground with me.

Even into my early 20s, I didn't understand why I would be fine 90% of the time, but then, very rarely, I would lash out at another child or friend in the exact same manner my mother or sisters would at me. I could never fully understand my actions as a child, and often assumed that I was intrinsically very bad, selfish, and even evil.

Even as an adult, certain episodes stick out in my mind like flashing lights because my behavior was so completely different from who I was. I could never make sense of how I could suddenly mutate into that terrible person, and for most of my life this colored my self image of being intrinsically bad, defective, potentially dangerous, and absolutely unworthy of love.

What I've come to realize now is that this was an absolutely normal reaction to be the lowest member of a dysfunctional family. In "Playful Parenting" by Lawrence Cohen I learned families have a hierarchical system where abuse, feelings of powerlessness, and isolation trickles down.

Basically this explains why my mom would get home from a long day at work, tired and irritated, and take out her frustration by criticizing my dad. My dad would in turn retreat into silence, only speaking to yell at my oldest sister to shut up, even though she wasn't being that loud.

My oldest sister would then roll that hurt down to my middle sister by hitting or verbally abusing her and then my middle sister would roll it down to me with a similar action.

So as the youngest of three girls, I had no one to take my aggression out on, so I would take it with me to school. That I was able to bottle up this hurt for years between periods of lashing out now makes me see that I was the very opposite of a bad person. Instead of releasing all that pent up negative energy daily, I would store it inside until it reached the absolute boiling point.

Stored up, this negativity slowly ate away at my self esteem and sense of self worth, until by the time I was 12, I truly believed I was an ugly, terrible person, totally unworthy of love or compassion.

So extreme was this conviction that I felt a near splitting of my identity. I was divided into my mental self - the person inside my body which was intrinsically bad and ugly and my physical body which was obviously pretty, talented, and smart.

When designing Shadow Self, the Yin Yang over the goddess symbolizes both the darker side of my mind and this duality of self. By creating that quilt, I began to chip away at my personal divide and find the answers that would explain my childhood behavior in a different light.

But there were still large issues left to work through after Shadow Self. I knew, even halfway through that quilt, that I would need to create another, specifically on the issues I've had my entire life with my mother.

For years I've tried to understand my mother, to put her words and actions into a context that would make them make sense or even sane. Coming from a background of abuse, neglect, and alcoholism, I now believe my mother has been a closet alcoholic and severely depressed for most of my childhood.

This knowledge helps in a very small way to explain how verbally abusive and destructive she was. The house I grew up in was tainted with her negative, angry energy. She was critical of everything and everyone, but did nothing, absolutely nothing, to change the situations she didn't like.

At an early age I found that the easiest place to be was out of sight, out from under her radar, so I wouldn't be a target for her endless complaints and criticisms. From the age of three, I can remember playing for hours each day behind a chair because that was the only place in our small house that I could have all to myself.

What is awful to realize now is that my love for all things creative: knitting, crochet, beadwork, sewing, and, of course, quilting, came to me as a reaction to her abuse. I found ways to "go away" in my mind through these activities so I would not have to listen to my mother complain. It was the only way I could relax and find peace in that house.

When I realized this on Tuesday, that my talent - the way my hands work, how well I can cut following a line, how small my hand stitches are - these are all abilities I have because my mother was abusive, I literally screamed in rage at her.

In the book "Outliers", Malcolm Gladwell explores the true source of talent. We all like to think people are born particularly talented, that world famous musicians like the Beatles became world famous because they were intrinsically different from everyone else. Like there is a special gene just for talented people.

But this is not actually true. The Beatles became the Beatles because they had the opportunity to preform more than any other band at the time, amassing more than 10,000 hours of performance time before they even became popular.

The same is true for world class soloists. What sets one music student apart from another is not intrinsic skill, it's the number of hours they spend practicing each day from the time they start playing the instrument at 7 years old until they're 20.

There's a big difference between the kid that practices 5 hours a week verses the kid that practices 15 hours, and that difference compounds until, at the age of 20, the professional musicians are always the kids who amassed 10,000 hours of practice time through their childhood.

I'm the kid with 10,000 hours of crafty play under her belt.

While I certainly wasn't free motion quilting at 5 years old, I believe the general skills I developed, and mostly especially the fine tuned control I have over my hands and fingers, most definitely affect how quickly I was able to pick up quilting at 21.

It just really sucks that my skill is largely a product of my rotten childhood and abusive mother.

This realization has hit me like a ton of bricks in the face. It makes me angry and it also makes me feel that my talent is somehow tainted, somehow twisted because of its origin.

But the more I think about it, and through yesterday I did almost nothing but think about it, the more I realize that this is the one, single positive thing I have from my childhood.

When I was cutting paper, stitching, or sewing, I was able to find peace in house full of negative energy. I was able to find a place of quiet and solitude even when people were yelling.

I was even able to produce beautiful things - origami boxes, knitted socks, crocheted sweaters, beaded jewelry and tailored garments. While impossible to counteract the blows to my self esteem and image that I received on a daily basis, I now believe that these small items, produced by my hands, gave me hope.

Hope that one day those beautiful things would carry me away from all that ugliness. Hope that I would one day have a home full of positive energy, smiles, and laughter.

Hope that I would have the strength to overcome the limitations of my childhood, put the past where the past belongs, and raise my child outside of the endless cycle of dysfunction and abuse.

Before piecing Sinkhole, I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff. To jump off the cliff and dive into Sinkhole was to stir everything up, to rip through years of politeness, to explore and finally make decisions about my life and who was invited to be a part of it.

I stood at the edge of this cliff and avoided thinking about it through August and September until it just couldn't wait anymore. I had to jump off and just hope that I would land on two feet.

And I have.

I have landed on two feet with a better understanding of myself: of who I am, who I was, and now a complete acceptance of both.

It's not that I'm no longer the little girl behind the chair because she will always be a part of me. Instead I'm the adult that has forgiven her for her weakness, surrounded her with love, and brought her out into the light of day.

Looking into the depths of Sinkhole, I see where I have been in my life, the rings of dysfunction and abuse I have overcome. I feel strong enough to move mountains, smart enough to have confidence in myself and my abilities, and courageous enough to confront any and all obstacles head on.

One such obstacle is still my mother. Over the last year her anger and depression have escalated until even my dad could no longer take it. She left him only after he made it clear he was no longer willing to endure her endless complaints.

I really wish there was a way to help her and I have tried for many years at the expense of myself and my family to make her happy.

But now I know with absolute certainty that people will not change unless they want to. I cannot make her happy, any more than I can go back and change her childhood or mine. She has made the decision to be mean, spiteful, and selfish, and I refuse to continue this cycle of abuse.

I have made the decision to cut off my mother completely. It may be hard to see what a positive decision this is. Many people have very positive relationships with their mothers, or are able to find it eventually as an adult.

For me, though, I now know that 90% of my negative voice was her voice, insidiously cutting me down and destroying my self esteem. In our last telephone conversation, my mother openly questioned my ability as a business owner, fueling my anxiety about Josh and me working together full time.

I simply do not want or need this type of person in my life. Being a mother does not grant a person a lifelong "get out of jail free" card.

She would say over and over during my childhood that "It will all even out" as an excuse for her behavior. As if at some golden moment in time every unfair, unjustified action would be suddenly made right.

I realize now that life will not "even out" on its own. We must choose, and choose, and choose to right the wrongs that have been done to us, to say "no!" to the labels that have been applied to us, and to find the different paths, out of the cycle of abuse and dysfunction, even if this is harder and more painful than simply maintaining the status quo.

The status quo would tell me that I'm being horrible and selfish to make this decision, that it is an unthinkable choice to cut off one's mother, even if she is a hurtful person who sucks the very joy out of life.

But this is MY choice and just like I'm free to choose what I eat for dinner tonight, what clothes I wear in the morning, and what quilt I work on this afternoon, I am also absolutely free to decide who is allowed in my life, who is allowed to know me, to be close to me, and ultimately who I will be willing to allow to hurt me.

People hurt one another; it's as simple and uncomplicated as that, but I've decided that my mother's brand of hurt is no longer something I will endure for even a moment longer.

This is me evening my life out. This is my turning point.

That I am still sad and angry is no surprise to me. These feelings are strong emotions and I'm finally allowing myself to feel them fully and allow them to pass naturally. I've stopped constantly yelling at myself to "Get over it already! Just grow up!" because that obviously doesn't work.

Feelings are strong because they need to be FELT, and I'm allowing myself to feel fully until the feeling passes. Even this morning I woke up feeling more content and stable than I had in years because I'd finally made the decision I'd been avoiding for so long.

And this is not the end of Sinkhole. To finish this quilt, it must be layered and quilted.

I've already decided how I will quilt this quilt using a design I will share in a few weeks. To describe it simply, I'm going to fill every dark ring with the darkest, most hateful words that have ever hurt me. By quilting them in, I believe I will be quilting them out of my body and mind.

On the lighter rings I'm going to quilt every positive, truthful phrase I can think of to counteract the dark. I want to heal all that darkness with positive, loving words.

I believe words are an extremely powerful thing. They have the power to hurt, to humble, to crush, and destroy. But words can also heal, empower, uplift, and enlighten.

Now the hardest part will just be picking the right thread colors!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. I don't know what to say, except that I admire your strength and courage and I wish you all good things from now on. Hugs!

  2. Ouch! and WOW!
    That are some big revelations you have experienced... I admire you for your strenght to face this insight.
    And want to thank you for your ability to hide in your creativeness, that makes it possible for me and many others around the world to really enjoy your creations now.

  3. I had to do the same thing with my mother in law, to make the decision to not ever let her into my life anymore. And it was difficult because her son was tied to her by apron strings the never let go until the day she died.

    I understand also the way alcoholism affects a family. My father was a bitter, mean spirited man who controlled everything and was only partially decent when he was halfway though a bottle of jim beam.

    I think we have all been at your crossroads at some point in our lives. I to was standing on that cliff, and it took something from deep inside me to understand that it was not me but my father who was the problem.

    Go find the book Change your thought, change your life, by Dr. Wayne Dyer. It changed my life.


  4. I'm so glad you shared this with us. You are an amazing person. Take care of yourself.

  5. Leah - thank you for sharing. I'm going through something similar, but I'm a lot older than you. It was so good to read your words and hear an echo with what is happening with me. It is so so hard, and yet it is vital and ultimately liberating to get to the truth of who we are - to clean out the muck and reach a core of strength and peace and understanding. I'm finding so many things falling into place, but it continues to be a journey. Well worth it. Good on you and again, thanks for your honesty and openness.

  6. Leah, you have done a LOT of work in a few days. Be thankful that you are able to do this at such a young age. Now you can move on and love your life. I took 35 years to realize my broken childhood and it has taken several crisis and hospitalizations and years of therapy to come to the point where you are. It is a testament to just how strong and wonderfully made you are. Live strong.

  7. I started quilting when I had two young babies at home that were 11 months apart. When people asked me how I had time for quilting, I told them that quilting was therapy. You are very talented and we thank you for sharing 365 days of Free Motion Quilting with us. I am glad that you are finding your way out of your past into a better future. You are beautiful and talented and hug your husband and child and don't forget that!

  8. I cut my mom out of my life almost two years ago and haven't regretted it. She has a borderline personality and acts like a mean alcoholic without the benefit of alcohol. Repeat after me, I didn't cause it and I can't fix it. It is great that you are working out these issues but be careful about dwelling on them too much. Don't rob yourself of the joy of now. The present is the best present.

  9. Good for you Leah! Life is too short to allow a toxic person to use up your time and energy and you have a child to protect from that kind of influence. We all have life experiences that are less than ideal, what is important to remember is that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you do with what happens to you. It sounds to me like you are well on your way to leaving the past behind and choosing a fully lived life. Congratulations!

  10. Leah, I commend you for sharing a story that is filled with pain and for recognizing the source of that pain. I too have cut people out of my life because of how negative they were. Life is short you do not need to endure them if you choose not to, you need to do what is best for you, your son and husband. Peace and prayers to you on this journey.

  11. Tank you Leah for sharing a part of your growth process. I so enjoy your blog and the way you share your creative talents with all of us. Life can be a struggle. My sister has a mother-in-law that sounds alot like your mom only she doesn't drink. It's sad that there are people like that, but you are so right. We have choices to make about who we allow to be in our lives. You are well on your road to a better life. I'm looking forward to Sinkhole. I hope it is as healing as it needs to be for you. Hugs.

  12. Leah, I am also a parallel to your life. One of the things I realized is that the people in our lives have helped us be who we are. They have agreed, on one level or another, to play a part in our existence. Sometimes this part is painful to us, or even them, and it makes little sense why it has to be. Even almost destroying who we are. Leah your idea for the rings on the sinkhole is beautiful. You truly are an amazing artist who has grasped the essence of symbolic healing. When we heal ourselves, we heal others. Just hearing about your life helps me in so many ways. Thank you.

  13. You're not alone. I agree that quilting (and music, art, writing, etc) are very therapeutic. You're quilts remind me very much of hidden oil pastel drawings I found that my mom had drawn while coming to terms with her abusive past... right about your age too. She never abused me, and I know it was hard for her to change, but she did, you have and you can teach your son to love art with no strings attached, as my mom did. You're wise beyond your years!!

  14. Dear Leah, thankyou, this post was like reading about my life.It would be nice to have a positive relationship with our mothers/fathers but I think it is more common to have situations such as yours, which is so sad.
    Good for you doing what you know feels right for you.

  15. Leah, You are strong and brave and true. In my opinion, the pain is not the only catalyst for your creativity. The drive to create and to play a poor hand well was part of you. You are a survivor. You could have made other choices, but you did not. You choose to fly and not to sink. Now you are the sunshine for all to see. You generously share to help us all. Thank you

  16. It seems there are many of us who are walking or have already walked down the path you are on. I hope you find it a comfort as I did reading this day's blog and comments that you're not alone. For all of us I pray for continued healing and a bright future.

  17. How exciting to have gone through the pain of understanding and dealing with such ugliness, and turning it around and literally creating beauty in its place! I am uplifted by your beautiful realizations that YOU ARE GOOD and your decision to keep all the negativity far away from you and your family. You are strong, you are talented, and you are generous. You are amazing! And without the pain that made up your life, you wouldn't be the fabulous person that you are today. Good job!

  18. You are a brave, strong woman, and I admire you. Hope we can all learn from you how to face and overcome our "dragons"

  19. You have done a brave and wonderful thing in sharing your story and your journey toward healing on your blog.
    You have absolutely made the correct decision in cutting your mother our of our life. Just because she gave birth to you doesn't give her the right to negatively affect your entire life. Parents have to earn a place in their adult children's lives.
    Keep creating beauty.

  20. Your mum and mine were/are twins.
    Thankfully, mine was 4000 kilometers away most of my adult life, but I still had/have a journey similar to yours.
    I am MOST interested in The Sinkhole as it progresses to its finish.

  21. I'm crafting at times of the last few years has kept me sane - I'm sharing it with a friend who's staying with us at present as our home is her 'safe house' until she's strong enough and it's safe for her to take the next step and I hope she finds the joy in escaping and loosing oneself in a craft as it helps build our inner strength
    And, I fully understand about decisions about 'cutting' loose family members my DH has been through some really tough, nasty times with his Mother, sister, brother and son in recent years that he's had to make a similar decision - it's hard and hurtful but necessary!

  22. I'm breathless...well done on finding a way through. I so hate all the comments like "you've only one mother, you must cherish". Being a mother doesn't equal automatic nice person. Its only recently that I've learned "you are allowed to feel what you feel" that we are only responsible for ourselves, we can't make others be what we want them to be. Some people are just toxic, and if they weren't blood, they'd have gone from our lives long ago.
    What you've realised and discovered, you don't need to keep going over... that can hold you in a dark place. It is... its enough you know, it doesn't need to speak louder than the good stuff. Every good wish to you.

  23. You are truly brave to share your story with us and I am so grateful for it. I belive in doing what is right and leaving any negativity behind and I have had to do that 2 times in my life also, although my situations were no-where near what yours have been.
    Congratulations on being a strong independant person who is willing to put herself and her family's wellbeing first.

  24. Leah, your mom's horrid abuse may have been the source for all of your hours of craft-related practice--but it was you, who even at that very young age, chose to channel the negative energy of your household into something positive. That's all you, sweetie. You should be proud of that.

    I don't know what made your mom the unhappy, selfish, abusive person she is, but regardless, she's just plain toxic. It's not your responsibility to try to change or help her--especially given the fact that she shows no inclination to change. The best thing to do is to cut toxic people from your life. I know it's a hard decision when that person is your mother, but really you have no choice. You have to protect yourself (and your family) from her toxic thoughts and actions.

    It's apparent you're making huge leaps in understanding. It takes courage to do this, and you've got plenty of courage.

  25. I'm glad for you that you made your decision. I think it's hard for people to go against their parents, because they've been taught to always do as their parents say. So to cut them out is huge. But you're right to do so. I've more or less done the same thing with my family, though I haven't cut them out completely. You are not alone in what you do. Make a strong bond within your immediate family, and be sure to nurture good friendships and you'll be happier in the end.

  26. Leah, i haven't read the other comments (like i usually do) because i want... no i *need* to talk to you first from my heart.

    You have brought tears to my eyes. The only reason i'm not crying right now is because i refuse to. Maybe later. I don't know.

    But if i were there right now, i would hold you. You may not be the "touchy-feely" type, but i definitely think you need a hug.

    I was raised in a loving home, but because of things i've seen and heard, i truly believe that sometimes we NEED to *choose* our own families instead of "keeping" the ones we were born with.
    I applaud you for having the courage and the strength to be able to see this for yourself. To be able to "walk away" from an abusive family is the most "selfish" and yet totally self-preserving thing an abused person can do.

    At this point, you are responsible for yourself and for your child, and i applaud you for thinking of you and of him and his future.

    I am so proud of you!
    I am dealing with a one-time incident of sexual abuse by a family member, and i KNOW it takes a TON of courage to deal with difficulties in our past.

    May i have half as much courage as you.

    Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

  27. God bless you dear for turning your life to something positive and good. Thank God for the choices you have made. You are an inspiration!

  28. I had a very similar family growing up. I can't tell you how much your story sounds like my story. I won't go into it here.

    I think a lot of people raised in that type of enviroment tend to continue the cycle like you talked about. Be proud of yourself for breaking it! Be proud that you recongnized that it wasn't how you wanted to be and that you used the experience to become a better person than the persons who raised you. *hugs*

  29. Congratulations for claiming the first day of the rest of your life! May God bless you on this new journey - a life full of peace and contentment.

  30. I am truly sorry for the type of abuse you have had to endure for years. But I must congratulate you; you are in your 20s (yes?) and you have already figured these things out; it takes some folks (like me) MUCH longer.

    I do not know if I had to endure it to the same degree of intensity that you did, but I can tell you that my family was emotionally abusive and overly critical, as well. I endured unfair, unsolicited criticism from my mom, grandmother and aunt for YEARS from everything to my choice in a husband, my career choice, my parenting choices, home decor, etc. etc.--the list goes on.

    I have personally found some relief from this in recent years because of a couple of reasons: First, I am now at a point where I have finally made clear to them that I will not tolerate their criticism any longer. If it means that we don't talk to or see each other for weeks, or months, or longer, then so be it.

    Second, my mom and aunt are finally mellowing out with age, bad health, etc., and my grandmother is deceased. Oh, dear; that may sound depressing and hopeless to you. But please don't let it be. I would strongly advocate employing some of the techniques I mentioned in the first reason--you make clear that there will be no real relationship unless something changes.

    I really and truly hope and pray that things get better, whether it happens quickly or slowly.

  31. Congratulations for learning to use your free will. You are choosing to not be abused. You are choosing your own path. The only life we can live is our own.
    Not only are you taking what is rightfully yours, but you are teaching your child by example that we each have free will. I send you love and good will.

  32. Hi well reading this I found that it brought back some bad memories of my mother. My friend gave me some really good advice and I would love to share them with you. If you could email me your phone number I would love to talk with you. My mother has passed away I think 6 years ago ( noticed I said I think) but as I feel in my heart she passed away many more years they that. I just didn't go threw this with my mother but my step mothercame into my life and was more a mother just my own mother but she did the same thing to me as my mother did. So I went threw it twice and not again. so I hope we can talk one day. I'm not as good as writing it like you are.

  33. Anyone who takes time to read and understand "Outliers" is one smart cookie! Good for you for attacking your weaknesses and making them strengths. You can be who you want to be, one action at a time.

    P.S. I listen to all Gladwell's books on my mp3 so I can still quilt. Try it!

  34. I love the idea of quilting both the hurtful words and the positive words. Sometimes things just need to be written down to purge them from your mind, body, and spirit. I am glad I recently found your blog and at the same time you are clearing out the cobwebs from your past.
    Be healthy, and go quilt!

  35. Leah, just recognizing what happened and learning to see clearly is a huge first step. Your rage will pass as you process the dysfunction you lived through, and good therapists and good friends will help with that. Pace yourself and let the healing come. And as other posters have said: the artistic talent you honed during this time is not a product of abuse, it was a refuge during the abuse; an expression of the best of Leah, the bedrock, the part of you that you were able to keep whole and alive. A big hug and a big sugar cookie to that little girl behind the chair. It is safe to come out now, honey.

  36. Leah, I am thrilled to know you are planning on quilting Sinkhole with words. I am working on my first challenge quilt and plan to quilt the entire background with words. This quilt has been very challenging for me, first, because we must use RED and I NEVER use red, second because it is supposed to be of a childhood memory and I have few memories of being young and third because I have never done an artsy quilt will be my first applique. I am excited about it. I can't wait to see how you blend everything together! Ready to quilt NOW---SonJa

  37. My thoughts and prayers are with you. You have been to hell and back. It is good that you have reached a point in your life where you can identify why people close to you have done what they have done. It is even better that you have a great positvie that has come out of all of this. You and your quilting are an inspiration to us all - and - for that I thank you. Always remember your husband and child. They love you and are there for you. Warm hugs to you and your family - Dianne

  38. My family was much the same...toxic and abusive father and a multiple personality mother. Even when I was very young I realized that they had problems and I was not the cause of it. At 5 I was a seasoned observer instead of a participant. I took great refuge in my crafts, sewing, and painting. As long as I was busy, everyone left me alone. That's how I survived. I'm now 56 with two wonderful grown children and a sweet husband of 38 years. It was my choice to choose my destiny. Yeah, I inherited DNA from both parents, but that's OK. Not everyone is all bad or all good. I'm super happy to have gotten creative and smart DNA! Your talents are uniquely yours and are not tainted!

    Everything that happens before combines to make us who we are now. Had I not had those countless hours of creating, well, I wouldn't be me. I count my blessings every day and revel in how things are now: Happy family, happy home, and happy quilting. My heart overflows with appreciation for my life now.

    Good luck my dear. When you are ready make yourself a "Happy" Quilt...whatever colors, design, or stitching. Just for you. Just because you can. Just because it's your choice!

  39. Leah, you are not only a beautiful and talented artist,you are so brave to be this amazingly, wonderfully, open on your blog. I know in my heart that you will reach and touch, and hopefully inspire thousands of readers along the way as they read about your beautifully expressed journey to understand yourself and others. I am honored to read and to connect with your words and feel deeply humbled by your experiences. We all feel such pain as we learn along our own life paths and at some level each of us knows she is not alone. What you have shared will mean more to others than even you can realize now. But as a reader who is reading back posts in your blog, I just want you to know that there will be many, many more readers who feel honored to have you share your honesty with us.

  40. Dear Leah,
    I am not a regular reader of your blog. Your blog has been on my list of blogs to visit, because of the buzz I have heard. In the quest to create a bibliography of quilting resources for an upcoming show, I finally made it over here. I also listened to your interview with Pat Sloan. I am in awe of your work.

    Sinkhole is a masterpiece and I hope you enter it into some show so other people can see it. You have done really well on this quilt. I think hiding the bad words from your life in the quilting in order to get them out of your body is a great one.

    You are correct that you cannot make people change. Only they can make the choice to change. You are in control of how you behave and you can only change yourself. You have the power within yourself to change the past dynamics of your family and create new dynamics for your family by your own actions and modeling positive behavior. Go for it! You can do it.

    You can be a great small business owner. This doesn't mean that you won't make mistakes. Of course, you will, everyone does. That is how we learn. Your mother told you would not be successful as a small business owner, because she wants to continue to exert control over your life and she is jealous. She sees you slipping away from her control and she doesn't like it. Continue to move away. You can do it!

    Thank you for your 365 Days of FMQ. You have done a great service to the quiltmaking community.

  41. Leah, as many others have said, I also had a very dysfunctional childhood. I had a mean-spirited alcoholic father and a seriously co-dependent alcoholic mother. I still deal with those inner voices and also feel split. I can totally relate and you are NOT alone. I feel you've done exactly the right thing by letting go of your mother. I've done the same thing in my family with various members. There comes a time when enough is enough. When you realize that is when the adult takes over and the hurt child falls in the background...they are still there, just less intrusive. It's amazing to me that people have no problem letting go of a simple thing like a blender that doesn't work, but they'll hang on to an abusive relationship that doesn't work. You've done the right thing by saying enough is enough.


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