I’ve been trying to write this blog for days, but words have seemed lacking and out of reach. I’ve tried a multitude of practices that usually get me back on good spiritual ground, enabling me to widen my perspective to a point at which I can honestly and authentically see, feel and appreciate my life and life circumstances, whatever they may be.
A few of the practices I have engaged in so far include gratitude, prayer, meditation, reflection and simply being still. However, the silence continues, and the sorrow and loneliness prevail. A palpable ache persists in my heart and my body remains weighted by the intensity of the sadness I feel.
I am preparing for the possibility that these will be the feelings I carry with me through tomorrow, Mother’s Day.
Tomorrow won’t be the first Mother’s Day that I experience this type of soul consuming anguish. Rather than celebrate the incredible joy, blessing, honor, privilege and miracle of being a mother, Mother's Day conjures up a multitude of emotions—all far and apart from those it is meant to.
How will it be this year? I don't yet know.
I am working hard to stay in the present and to draw from past experience, remembering that the feelings I feel captive to now will dissipate. I know that I can and will eventually step back into a feeling of wholeness. I will feel gratitude again for God’s gift of motherhood. And, I will be restored within my community, escaping the loneliness of these past few days.
But, in the meantime, it is what it is, I am where I am, and I feel what I feel.
Hope for a different perspective began this morning. Not long after I awoke, I read a blog post by my dear friend Kathy Escobar. In her blog, I saw these precious, life-giving words:
“You’re not alone in the pain; there are a lot of others experiencing the same thing, even if you might not know them.”
Wow! I needed to hear that. Thank you my sweet friend. And, her entire blog post is beautiful. I am confident that it will bless and comfort you if you are grieving. If it's not your story this year, it may fill you with empathy for the women who are struggling this Mother's Day.
Understanding The Grief And Other Challenging Emotions
I can’t put a finger on when or why I begin to feel so out of sorts about this weekend. I know I have felt it brewing for several days now, yet I’ve been busy with work and other commitments and obligations, which I let consume me. I often do this so I don't have to feel, acknowledge or address my grief and other difficult emotions.
However, time and experience are teaching me that these feelings don’t go away. They may be pushed aside, stuffed down or moved around, but they don’t go away.
My emotions are not to be ignored. They demand attention, and I have learned that my emotions are mine—to be dealt with by me. I don't like this. But, the fact remains that when I don’t take the time to acknowledge them, to sit with them and feel them, I pass them on to others. I make others responsible for me, my discomfort, my pain and my sorrow.
For me that manifests in the following ways:
Lack of gratitude - Being dissatisfied with everything my sweet husband says, does or doesn’t do.
Self-righteousness - Yelling or raging at fellow drivers whom I have determined are idiots because they hinder my ability to drive as I desire. Or rolling my eyes and sighing at another’s woes or concerns because I feel they don't match the magnitude of mine.
Selfish and self-centered - Avoiding phone calls so I won’t have to listen to a friend’s concerns because I’m too overwhelmed with my own. Or, even worse, not sharing in their joy because I feel envious and don’t want to hear it.
Stuffing emotions/self-sabotage - Binging on TV or food—often both—in an attempt to numb or dull my inner turmoil.
Since I do not desire to engage in these behaviors this Mother's Day, I am committed to taking responsibility for myself. Writing this blog is my gift to myself this holiday weekend. It is helping me to become aware and to be present to myself and my feelings.
I won’t see or hear from my daughter this year. That’s a fact. And I feel sad about it.
Once again, addiction and its consequences have robbed me of my daughter and time with her. I cannot change that. No amount of tears, sadness, anger, rage, self-pity, self-righteousness, self-centeredness, self-sabotaging, nor stuffing will change the void I feel about this.
Cultivating Acceptance, Trust And Appreciation
So, maybe trying to change how I feel should not be my goal this Mother’s Day.
Instead, I think I will:
Lean in and feel my feelings.
Accept life on life’s terms.
Trust that I will come through.
Know that in time I will be allowed visits with my daughter.
Acknowledge that I am my daughter’s mother—EVERYDAY—despite addiction and the miles and walls and guards and razors that separate us today.
Express appreciation - God saw fit to grant me the privilege of being a mom – HER MOM!!
Accept that my Mother’s Day doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It will not be captured in the writings of a Hallmark card. (I suspect most don’t anyway.)
Realize that I am not alone. My story, my weekend will not be unique. Although I wish it were, time and experience have taught me that thousands of other mothers will feel pain this weekend. Either from addiction or the many reasons Kathy listed in her blog.
I will not get to celebrate with my daughter this year, BUT I will celebrate BECAUSE OF MY DAUGHTER. She is the reason I am a Mother. Whatever the circumstances.
I will not force myself to pretend great joy, overwhelming gratitude or boundless thankfulness if I am not feeling it. Neither, though, will I allow my feelings to spill onto others in selfish, self-centered or self-righteous ways.
Rather, I will ponder the gratitude and joy I have known by simply being a mother.
Of being blessed to experience the sacred, holy, all-consuming love that exists between a mother and her precious child(ren).
Of having had the miraculous feeling of carrying life inside me.
Of knowing the full range of human emotions in a way that only mothers can.
Of feeling a love that is as boundless, I imagine, that my God has for me.
Of trusting that my God has the same boundless love for my beautiful, silky-haired daughter.
Of believing that my God is with my daughter every minute of every day, wherever she may be, especially when I am not.
And knowing that despite addiction, separation, disappointment, fear, sorrow, anger and loss my daughter knows she is LOVED completely, entirely and wholly, without exception.
I will celebrate this Mother’s Day’s knowing I have learned to love her Well. Honestly. Purely.
Being In Celebration
I will celebrate tomorrow by:
Acknowledging that her addiction is not a personal attack against my motherhood.
It is not a result or reflection of my parenting. I did not cause it. I cannot control it. I cannot cure it.
Knowing that despite her addiction and the behaviors that accompany the disease SHE LOVES ME. If she could be with me tomorrow, she would. But she can’t, so she won’t—at least not physically.
Recognizing the TRUTH. She IS WITH ME. Always. I carry her in my heart, my thoughts, my mannerisms and colloquialisms. I am never really without her. She is my child, my DAUGHTER. And I am her MOTHER. Always.
Those truths are a blessing beyond measure! I will celebrate these blessings this Mother’s Day weekend...and every day!
Today, at this moment, I accept that, all this is enough. I may want more and I may wish for more, but this year, I embrace the idea that simply being a mother is enough.
I will cling to this fact, to this this truth: I AM A MOTHER. And, I will not allow addiction to rob me of this joy.
Whether my daughter is present in the flesh or not, my relationship, my love and my status as her mother continues. No one, no disease and no condition can ever rob me of that position or title.
I AM MY DAUGHTER'S MOTHER.
SHE will be why I celebrate tomorrow. Despite the circumstances, despite the disease, despite the conditions of her life. SHE IS WORTH CELEBRATING, BECAUSE SHE IS MINE AND I AM HERS.
Mother and daughter.
Pooh and Piglet.
Frick and Frack.
Hand and glove.
I love you sweet girl of mine.
"Promise me you'll always remember that you're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than thank you think."