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Posts Tagged ‘Healing’

The fact The past few years have taken a toll. Life is like that, not ‘funny that way’, just like that. But I feel myself slowly emerging, like when a bullfrog first peers from the waters brim before rising up. Though comparing myself to a bullfrog is not what I was going for here.

The past few years have seen tests to my spirit and identity with the heart wrenching placement of my father into a “memory care center”, because we were not allowed to use the word Alzheimer’s per our mother, though this had been diagnosed years before. His placement was premature, but my mother was “done” and ready to go on with her life. Then suffering through his slow horrible decline and 4 relocations as he fought being confined, and then his death this past year. The previously written about divisive unraveling of my family. The two rounds of treatment my husband endured for Hep C as the first one failed. The change in my relationships with my precious daughters as they grew into the appreciation of the lifestyle their father’s (my first husband) money could bring them and slowly being relegated to a corner spot. The past few years tested me.

But I am not without the resolve of enduring testing. My father instilled that in me, taught us the differences between ‘mountains and molehills’.  Quitting was never an option with my father, it was always “if there’s a will there’s a way”.  The challenge is not to lose the will. And for me, it was redefining the will. 

My will was no longer about being the best mother, holding on to my father, having my husband back to his former self. Even as I write this I realize anew the common thread of accepting a new me in the midst of new relations with old relationships. No, my will fluctuated, redefined, focused in and out like those automatic occular testing devices.  First I focused on getting through each day. I focused on not snapping at people, on my moods, on not crying, on not thinking, on  not over engaging in difficult conversations.  It was The Will of Not! The Will of Not is the story of defense.

This shifted into  a will to understand why my mother would/could seem to so easily dismiss my father, two of her four daughters, grandchildren, great grandchildren, the community my parents had lived in for 30+ years and close friends…to just walk away and start over.  To understand how my husband’s treatment changed who he was and live with this at times cold man it created which is a stated side effect and how long it would last. To try and wrap my head around how my daughters were so pulled into a lifestyle I could not begin to appreciate, relate to or respect with the private jets, fancy vacations and materialism that came with their fathers wealth. And how this pushed all of the other grandparents to a corner in the square and out of the inner circle.  This is not to say they are not loving. If something was wrong and I called they would certainly be available to lend an ear. But their lives are busy and I do not have much to offer but babysitting services, which is my greatest joy.  This is the part you think will never happen to you when your children are growing up and depend so much on your love and guidance. Then have their own busy families and you realize you are now a spare part. I can not fault them for the power I gave them. But it is a power they are probably bewildered by me taking back. Yes, this was the period of The Will to Understand, because understanding is knowledge and knowledge is power and I was desperately seeking power in my life. Understanding allows acceptance.

I have forgotten to skip.  Who did not learn the joyous movement of skipping as a child!? Just thinking about it creates a sense of freedom and abandonment. Why do we teach these things to children when we don’t practice them as adults?  To move our bodies, which moves our minds, in abandoned freedom.  To focus so purely on the here and now and allow the worry of tomorrow to slip away, to relearn how to skip. This emerging process is a cherishingly slow process. I am stunned when I reflect back on how hard I worked for my daughters approval and acceptance, in a constant state of anxiety if I had irritated them. I’m afraid that pendulum has swung, without my even realizing it except in reflective comparison.  Only today did I realize I have this past month forgotten both of my son-in-laws birthdays! Not where I want to be! And yet after 10 solid seconds of panic I moved quickly to ‘oh well’, done now. And added the dates back to my calendar as they evidently dropped off with the last update. Another sip of coffee.  I am learning. Learning finally to shrug, skip, forgive ME, hold onto what my father taught me above all ‘live fearless, live honest’, to keep my eyes open. “Was blind but now I see”.  I am willing to learn! Yes, this is the period of The Will to Learn!

Learning my limitations, embracing my limitations! Both limitations that are natural to my humanity and limitations I choose, and understanding the difference. Not allowing one to be an excuse for the other. Staying the path of being open to fearlessly looking forward, there lies the peace. Knowing I’m allowed to take care of me and not apologize for it. 

~peace~

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Let me just make a recommendation right off the bat, if you adore your mother, if you love mother’s day, this may not be the blog for you…or it might. Personally, every year I struggle with mother’s day, can’t even bring myself to capitalize it. It is by far my least favorite holiday/celebratory day of the whole year. I prefer Groundhogs Day, Presidents Day, Humiliation Day (Jan. 3rd), National Bubba Day (June 2nd), Yellow Pig Day (July 17th) and Marooned Without a Compass Day (November 6th), all to mother’s day.

I no longer struggle (much) with this day, I mainly just quietly ignore and wait for it to pass. And just so you know, I am a mother of two adorable grown daughters, who do not know I do not like mother’s day to the extent I dislike it, because what they do know is I LOVE being their mother.

See, I have learned over the years, many years, that there is a huge difference between being a mother and a parent, a father and a parent. My ‘mother’ is still living, so I do not speak of this unknowingly or lightly. As you may be aware from previous posts, my father is still living also and in an Alzheimer’s facility.

When I was blogging in my head earlier today I knew I had to write about it. I do that, blog in my head. A past acquaintance referred to it as ‘mind %#$@ing’. He didn’t get it, and it was before blogging.

My mother/parent, gave it what she had. She simply was not equipped to be a mother to me, but was able to parent me, and for that I am grateful. She met all of my basic needs wonderfully, faultlessly. But she wasn’t able to mother me. This was not unique to my mother, it was the relationship she had with her mother, her mother had with her mother, and I don’t know beyond that but probably went back more generations. It took therapy to get to a point of first recognizing it, accepting it, forgiving it and letting go of it…except on mother’s day. This was complicated early on by the fact that growing up my father had very high expectations of myself and my siblings on just how mother’s day would go, and it required excellent behavior and big displays of love and affection from us. I couldn’t muster either so I remember mother’s day as always being a struggle.

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Then I became a mother, a young mother, and my husband was determined to override my mother’s day wiring by spoiling me, having the girls spoil me and doing his damnedest to make me feel loved and appreciated. And it helped for a while, but always those feelings of “will this day never end?!” hung on. You see, when you know you didn’t get to have a mother and you watch everywhere around you and see what it is like to have a mother, even in your own home as you are mothering, you have a hard time embracing the celebration of it. My mother made it very clear very young that she did not want me, confirmed this to me when I was a young adult and saw no problem with it. Again, she parented well, and provided for me. But there have been so many, many times in my life that I have struggled with how to react to something because it was never modeled for me. It was not only up to me to figure out, she resented my ability to figure it out. My mother was emotionally abusive from the time she found out she was pregnant, details don’t matter here. I learned to mother myself, and from that learned to mother my children. My children were my saving grace as I was able to feel the love of a mother by being a mother. I was also able to feel the pain of what I missed by what they received. I feel mainly just pity for her at this point, long gone are the days of anger or need.

At some point many of us, for various reasons have to make a decision between leaving our past and choosing our future. Sometimes that choice is forced on us, sometimes it is a long slow process and if you are lucky, it never happens, you are able to mesh the two. For me, it became clearer and clearer that to own my life and live forward, I could not stay engaged with her. It was the final step in truly letting go and accepting that ours was a relationship not made of choice, not wanted and not necessary. I learned that I needed peace in my life more than I needed a ‘mother’ and that ship had sailed. I felt free for the first time when I came to that realization and realized it didn’t even matter to her.

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My greatest reward for mother’s day is watching my daughters enjoy it with their children, knowing that cycle has been broken. Watching them joke about it and detecting no stress or anxiety about it, makes it all worth it.

In 1994 President Bill Clinton signed into law the resolution unanimously adopted by the U. S. Congress establishing the fourth Sunday of every July as Parents Day. This I can get behind, because sometimes that is all that is possible. Sometimes a parent just isn’t equipped to be a father or mother, but they do their best to be a parent, to meet those basic needs.

And it isn’t about all the hugging and kissing or sitting up late at night talking through things. It’s just about being there. What makes my father, my father, is not any of that, he traveled much of the time I was growing up, he left the parenting to my mother. He was the disciplinarian. But he was also the teacher of principles, the one who though was wrongfully hard on us, was equally hard on us. I think each one of us felt we had a special relationship with him. He wanted so badly for us to be independent, strong, happy women, and it was his mission in life to accomplish that. That is what made him a father, not because he did it all right, because he did not.

Parenting is not for the weak of heart, mothering is not for everybody. And sometimes the two just don’t go together, and that is what keeps therapists employed! I hope that if you struggle with mother’ss day, that you are able to find peace in the ability to mother yourself, and know, it was never about you not deserving a mother.

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Twenty years ago I was divorced from my high school, no, junior high school sweetheart, after 23 years together.
At the time I wrote a book about how women grieve to help me through it all (the ‘all’ part being another woman). Then I forgot about it as I moved on piece by peace.

Then a couple of weeks ago I rediscovered it! I didn’t even have a copy if you can imagine that. Fortunately I had given a hard copy to my best friend. Over the years and move from one computer to the next it just disappeared.

When a recent conversation with my sister made me remember it I decided to try to find it. When I couldn’t locate a copy of any type in my possession I asked my friend if she still had it, and she did. She mailed me a copy…seems we came full circle.

It is so incredibly strange to be reading through this! I feel like I am reading it as written by a stranger. The pain is so raw in places. It makes me appreciate my journey of the past twenty years, my current life and husband of 13 years. Mostly it makes me proud of the work, focus and determination to have a ‘healthy’ (for the most part) divorce and heartbreak.

But I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge how it pulls on me too. Mainly I just want to hug that woman and tell her I admire her and comfort her. My first husband, I won’t say ‘ex’, he wasn’t crossed off a list, and myself enjoy a nice relationship. Too many ‘what ifs’ and regrets for him to let himself trust himself around me, so he stays tightly wound. It’s actually his wife and I who get along great. Our children enjoy being able to have family gatherings with us all together, with our little grandchildren, as it should be.

And each time at some point we catch each other’s eye and for a moment, we both know and share what we lost. And I feel at peace.

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