Spring and summer is a festive and celebratory time of the year. Everyone’s inviting others over for outside barbeque parties; loved ones are connecting at family reunions and grandparents are flying across the country to attend graduation ceremonies. We are all excited about the sunny skies, warm weather and the camaraderie. Everyone it seems except me. May and June is the special time of the year we set aside to pay homage to our extraordinarily, wonderful and near perfect parents. Mother’s Day comes first and how can anyone not possibly notice with all the gleeful commercials. A few weeks later, but with less fanfare, we honor fathers who have been those strong providers, leaders and role models. So I wonder why this time of the year is so painful for me. I am a wonderful mother, I’ve been nominated by the best committee around – and believe me they’ve put a lot of thought into their selection. I love the gifts and hugs and kisses I receive on Mother’s Day. I treasure and save all my gifts from the creative poems and homemade pictures. Nonetheless, these holidays are not all laughs and smiles for this adult Survivor – and I spend a little bit more time than I’d like on these days trying to put together the pieces of my broken heart.
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time contemplating if my pain is an issue of unforgiveness and I have concluded that it is not. I forgive my mother. I understand now that she was and still is a victim of domestic violence. Though in different ways, she has been attacked and abused by her perpetrator. She is experiencing a very sick from of imprisonment that doesn’t even allow her to fully grasp the severity of her situation. She remains tied to her perpetrator day in and day out and as a result, her soul dies a little bit more each day. Honestly, I don’t know how much longer she can take the mental abuse. She is getting older.
Recently, I found solace in my church’s newsletter, although I’ll describe later how the article also brings forth a bittersweet emotion, which explains as we get older our roles are sure to change and as adults we often find ourselves our parent’s caretakers. Middle aged or grown children are now the ones taking care of their elderly parents. The newsletter explains that adult child will probably find themselves doing the exact same things their parents did for and to them when they were younger. Taking them to the doctor, organizing entertaining outings and finding time in their busy schedules just to be near each other. If only it were this simple for me.
I understand that my father is deceased and therefore of course there is no opportunity to share with him and I don’t have any memories of him as he died when I was fairly young. But as for my mother, well I do have memories and they are not so fond. She was not a positive part of my life growing up nor is she now. Which brings me to the point I mentioned earlier – I fight off feelings of bitterness and jealousy for those adults that have their parents in their lives. And I know that we all may have a sad story or two about our parents because no one is perfect. We all probably wish to some degree or other that our parents could have done a little better job at loving us unconditionally. But this isn’t my situation at all. My childhood was filled with abuse and neglect.
So during Mother’s Day and Father’s Day I am usually happy and sad. Happy because I love my role as a mother but sad because I am grieving the loss of a mother I wish I had. I long for the conversations we could have today about marriage, careers, love, family, menopause and growing older. But she’s not around – she doesn’t want a relationship with me. And that hurts. On Mother’s Day, for those that know me, I would love to get a hug for the grief I experience for the mother I never had.
The question becomes – how do I survive the heartache? Well, I’ve learned to reach out to my mother in spite of her attempts to push me away and completely out of her life. I endure the pain of rejection as she responds each time that she is comfortable with the ways things are. I shed my tears and then I pray and ask God to help me deal with my feelings of anger and jealousy. And like the loving Heavenly Father that He is – He always responds. I know that God cares about me and how I feel about what is happening to my family. He speaks to me and shows me how I have been blessed and that these blessings have been provided to me as a source of comfort. And He also lets me know that I am truly special because I am free from any form of family violence. He lets me know that I am truly blessed to have escaped from the hell I was in and guides me so that I will never experience it again. So I survive Mother’s Day and Father’s Day by counting my blessings. I praise God for the three beautiful children that I have. I praise Him for all of my family and friends. I thank God that I am safe and healthy and happy. And that I am able to look to Him as my provider and source and that I have a sound mind and discernment to let go of those people that are not good for me. Most of all I thank God that I broke the cycle. I know that it is a miracle that I don’t inflict the same sort of emotional terror and torture on my children that I experienced. I thank God that I renewed my mind and that He healed my heart so that I am able to receive His glorious love and able to pass it on to my children. Lastly, I survive because I pray for my mother to recover and escape the hell she is experiencing emotionally and physically. I pray that I never forget her – and to honor her I put a picture of her in my bathroom by the light switch so that each time I leave out, and this is frequently, I remember to praise God for healing her. I pray that I never become so wrapped up in my own personal pain that I forget that I am blessed to be a blessing. In the church newsletter article I read I am reminded that it is now my turn – my turn to assume the role as nurturer and caregiver and the one that shows unconditional love and patience. And so although hurt, I do just this – albeit from a distance. I know that this is what my Heavenly Father has strengthened me to do and I also know that if I was in the same position as my mother, that He would send an angel to watch over me and others that would do the same for me too.