Last night, I called my mother to see how she was doing and recovering after her mastectomy and radiation treatments for her recent journey with breast cancer. It’s been around a month since the radiation ended and she said she is doing much better.
Then the conversation took me to a place I didn’t expect it to go. She’s always been a master at button pushing with me, most likely because she sewed all the buttons on with unbreakable threads herself long ago. She asked me what was going on in my life. Well, she didn’t actually “ask” so much as accuse me of never telling her anything. I’m sorry to say that I took the bait and said “well, you’ve never asked, so tell me what would you like to know?”
She didn’t have anything specific to ask, so I gave her the mundane rundown…”wake up, meditate, yoga, shower, work, home, cook, read, sleep…lather, rinse, repeat.” “I travel when I can…hike where I can…hang out with likeminded people when I can.” etc…
Then she said I never told her anything personal, like if I have a boyfriend…(I have to admit, at 47 the word boyfriend sounds absolutely foreign to me…and funny).
So, I told her that I didn’t share a lot of myself with her because I didn’t really trust her and didn’t feel safe with her. I said this all very calmly because it was/is my truth. She seemed surprised and said “why??”.
My reply was simple and in two words, “My childhood”.
Her counter reply puzzled me as she said “I’m sorry”.
I said “Thank you, do you know what you are sorry for?”
Her: “No. I don’t know. What was so bad about your childhood?”
Me: “You don’t remember?”
Her: “I remember some things, but what are YOU talking about?”
Note, this is where I should have stopped the conversation.
Me, as calmly as I could “well, you kinda used to beat the hell out of me, Mama”
Her: “I did not!! I never beat you..that NEVER happened!!!”
Me: ~crickets~ gulp…I have to admit, she sounded so convinced that for just a moment, I actually questioned my own sanity. Don’t worry, I recovered and said “Umm, yes ma’am, you did. With belts and flyswatters and switches and the back of your hand when you bloodied my nose…not to mention calling me awful names like bitch, slut, whore…things I couldn’t fathom as a little girl”
Her: “That. Never. Happened!! I never bloodied your nose. I never beat you. I never called you those things!! That is just some story you made up about yourself.”
Me: (still quite calmly while thinking ‘right, because that is the fairy tale every little girl dreams of’) “Yes, you did. And I’m sorry, but that is why I don’t trust you and don’t feel safe with you.”
Her: “You’re lying. That never happened. Maybe we should just agree to say goodbye for good, now”
Me: “Actually, I think I did that a long time ago.”
Her: “Goodbye, Michele”
Me: “Goodbye, Pat.” (the word or name “Mama” just didn’t and couldn’t come to my lips)
Damn. I think I was in shock for a few minutes and poured myself a glass of wine, which just didn’t appeal to me at the moment, so I decided to crawl into bed instead. I was instantly exhausted and my body wanted to rest, so I listened. (I’m learning, ya’ll). Sleep took me to some lovely healing dreams. I’ve been having a lot of those lately. Very vivid, very kind, very beautiful and very healing. Must be going through a spiritual growth spurt :)…How marvelous!
After years of trying to make sense of it all and to reach a place of healing and self love, I realize I am already there and have been for some time now…and that’s when I realized that the only thing I can and do feel is compassion for her and for whatever she has gone through in her life to make her who she is. I know she suffered tremendously as a child herself. My grandmother took all 6 of her children to an orphanage for awhile when she couldn’t feed them in order to work and save enough money to go and bring them home- which she did within a few months. I don’t know what happened in that orphanage, but I know that my mother never forgave her mother. I’m sure she felt completely abandoned and that sort of experience at such a young age is beyond traumatic for anyone. For Grandma, it was an act of love and the only way she could be sure her children were safe, had a bed to sleep in and could have food to eat.
I have no idea what else happened to my mother, but she went on to meet and marry my father who was a physically and verbally abusive alcoholic. She was 22 when I was born and had already lost my infant brother and sister, Paul and Paige, so she must have married at around 18 or 19. After I was born, she had another daughter named Heather who also died as an infant. Those experiences alone had to be very dark and soul crushing for her…how very sad her life must have been with all this tragedy and pain on her shoulders.
Today, this morning, all I can think about her is that she never “wanted” to hurt me, she just didn’t know any other way. She was a child herself in many ways. Maybe she still is. I am sure that those times that she did hurt me were very traumatic for her as well. Maybe that is why she doesn’t remember. A human being cannot cause that kind of harm to another without feeling the trauma themselves unless they are psychopaths. And I truly don’t believe she is a psychopath. I believe she is just still a very wounded little girl who never learned to love, to trust, to heal. And for that I am so very sorry.
I’m so grateful, through it all, that she did give birth to me and that I have been gifted with this gorgeous life of mine. I wish her love and healing. And peace. It sure sounds like she could use it. I can’t give it to her, and I know her well enough to know she won’t pick up the phone if I call again. And she’s never called me, so no worries there. Honestly, I don’t want to call again. I’m relieved to know that I don’t need to feel obligated to do it anymore. Not that I ever needed to feel that way. I just did. And now I am giving myself permission to let that shit go. Sweet release!!
I AM going to write her a letter today. The good old fashioned handwritten kind and thank her for bringing me in to the world. And tell her that I forgive her. And that I love her and whatever else feels right in the moment. I’m guessing no one has ever really SEEN her and that she has never really felt HEARD. That’s so critical in this world. To be seen and heard. To be accepted. To be ENOUGH. I want her to know that I have seen her and she HAS been heard. And that I am ok. Golden, actually.
If you read this far, thank you. I hope this experience helps you heal or forgive in some way if that is what you need. It really seems such a shame that in school, they teach us science, math, history, grammar, foreign languages, economics, etc, but they don’t teach us much about self love, empathy, compassion, unity, connection, love for others, acceptance…all the things that really make the journey worthwhile.
I’ve noticed many schools are starting to teach meditation now, and I sincerely hope that is a movement that goes “viral” as they say in this worldwide webby connected planet. What a wonderful world that will be…I think the Dalai Lama said it best when he said “if every 8 year old is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world in one generation.”
Ma’salaama, ya’ll. Be good to one another. And remember, another person’s pain isn’t your own. When people lash out, they are hurting. They aren’t meaning to “hurt”. Give them love if you can.
And if you can’t, then give yourself love. Same thing.