As I’ve made it clear, my mom, the woman who raised me, and I are not close. I believe, in my heart of hearts, that that relationship is a toxic, completely ingenuine, inauthentic relationship. I have never been permitted to be the real, true me, without being ridiculed, belittled, criticized, and berated anyway. This mirrors the relationship with my dad. I grew up being told and thinking that everything that I did, believed in, valued, and liked was stupid, worthless, not good enough, etc. I recently remembered an incident when I was young…maybe around 5 (I was young enough to be getting ready for a nap)…where I made myself bleed. I let blood drip into the toilet after I ‘went number 2’ (haha…as someone in the medical field, I’m tempted to write ‘had a bowel movement’ but that seems far too formal…..whatever….you know what I mean). I remember calling for my mom (because, I guess, that’s what all kids do when they’re little…..call their moms to have them peer over the side of the commode). I vividly remember trying to instill some amount of concern….get some sort of reaction to demonstrate that she cared. I have no idea how I knew that blood in a toilet with poo was a bad sign for your insides, but I wanted to see her care about me. I remember her reaction so clearly. “Oh well. I really don’t care. It’s nap time. If you’re bleeding, you’re bleeding. I can’t do anything to fix it. It’s not like it matters if something happens to you.” I remember laying down for a nap and thinking that I should never have been born, that my family would actually be happy if I were no longer alive. Recalling that memory has caused the flood gates of similar memories to come back to me where I would try and instill some amount of motherly concern from my mom. It never worked. I remember always feeling so unworthy of life after she would repeatedly demonstrate that she didn’t give a rat’s ass.
I have been fortunate enough to know the opposite….and I want this post to reflect just that.
I’ve been quiet in my blog, but have been doing immense work to grow and overcome all of the insecurities and problems that I have relating to people as a result of my fears in growing up. I have been working on finishing the grieving process of Mother, my mother, the woman who raised me from the time I was 21 until she died when I was almost 29. It happens to be that four years ago today is the day she made her transition. I struggled with that. I wanted her to fight her cancer more than she wanted to. I wanted her to continue fighting long after she started her process of becoming ready to pass on to whatever awaits us next. It’s only been in the past couple days that I’ve been able to accept that she was ready to go, that I regrettably wasn’t ready to support her departure. And in light of that, this is my letter to the strongest woman I have ever met, a woman I strive to become more like, not in a self-loathing way…rather….she was so strong, admirable, respectable, amazing that, if I’m half the woman she was, I will be a success as a human being.
My dearest Mother-in-love,
It’s been four years since you were in your human body, breathing ever so slowly, preparing to go. It’s been four years and 6 days since I last heard your voice. It’s been that long since I heard you say “I love you too”. Four years and three days ago, I touched your hand and told you how much I needed you, how much I love you. I don’t know if you heard me. I hope so. I didn’t tell you thank you. I was too mad at you to thank you. I thought you gave up. I thought you quit. I never knew you to quit. I always knew you to fight until you won. I thought that’s what you would do with cancer. I thought you had it in you to be the one ‘five year statistic’. Because you’re Mother. And that’s just what you do. You keep on fighting. You keep on giving everything your everything. I was so mad at you because you were only my mother for far less time than I was ready. I was so angry when you didn’t do your treatment schedule ‘as you should’ because I didn’t have my mother for long enough. I was only your daughter(-in-love) for eight short years. You were leaving me too soon. I was so angry at you! I was so selfishly angry at you.
But now, I see that you were ready. You finished your work here. You finished giving ‘the fruits of your womb’ all the gifts that we all needed. Your legacy had been complete. Amazing and complete. And I thank you.
Thank you for teaching me love. Thank you for showing me joy and happiness and peace. Thank you for showing me what mothers do to fight for their children. And they just do it. Because they do. And they do it out of love. Everything that they do may not be right, but from the deepest place in the heart, out of the most intense love ever known makes it ‘good enough’.
Thank you for allowing me to be the daughter you never had. Thank you for being a constant demonstration of unconditional love that I wished for in my younger years.
Thank you for teaching me how to be a Mother, if I ever decide to have fruits of my own womb. Thank you for sharing so many stories of times of pure motherly bliss from when you were raising your boys. Thank you for so many gifts that you have blessed me so generously with, without even thinking twice. Thank you for loving me anyway. Thank you for loving me as if you had birthed me. Thank you for such deep and genuine and compassionate and unconditional love. Thank you for letting me be me while you be you and we learned to love each other through all the times of trials and laugh heartily through all of the good times. We learned to just be. And sometimes we butted heads, sometimes far uglier than it maybe should have been, just as mothers and daughters tend to do. But I loved you and you loved me.
Thank you for allowing me the gift of a relationship with you separate from mine with your son and yours with your son. Thank you for teaching me what an adult motherly relationship feels like. Thank you for teaching me how to ask for advice…even if sometimes I don’t know I’m asking 🙂
Thank you for welcoming me into your family to teach me what it looks like to BE a family, to be respectful, to be loved, and to be allowed to love.
Thank you for being so honest and true and genuine. Thank you for telling me when you did like something just as readily as when you didn’t like something.
Thank you for showing me and challenging me to be strong with love rather than fear. Thank you for trying to teach me balance. That’s something I am much better at…I think anyway….Thank you for being you and being there. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for everything. Thank you for being a bitch sometimes. Thank you for putting up with me being a bitch. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for being someone to miss so intensely; someone to love so deeply; someone so willingly teach to live, laugh, love; someone to model my personal aspirations after. I wish I could remember what your voice sounds like. I will just have to hold so intently to what your motherly love feels like. And I thank you so deeply for giving me that to hold on to for the rest of my years.
I will always love, appreciate, and honor you.
Forever your daughter-in-love