“Give me your email and I will send you a video of her during activities today.”
“Okay. I’d like that,” I replied to the woman on the other end of the phone.
Why did I just say that?
What is happening.
What is happening.
I felt my throat closing.
I wasn’t really ready for this, but it was happening. I was going to receive a video of my mom.
My mom, who I haven’t seen for ten years.
I felt like I’d imagine a first-time skydiver would feel as they found themselves standing at that jump off point right before exiting the plane…asking, “How did I get here? I’m not ready for this. But I wanted to be here. But I’m still not ready.”
Yes. I am a daughter who has not seen or spoken to my mom for ten years.
How does that happen?
How does ten years get behind a person?
I really can’t answer that.
I guess I could blame it on addiction, but that’s not entirely the truth.
I did spend almost a decade in various stages of addiction, but it’s not like I wasn’t coherent during these past ten years.
I guess the best explanation I have is that I just wasn’t ready until I got completely sober.
I have lived in active recovery for the past 2 1/2 years and something inside me has been desiring a relationship with my mom.
Not just a check up to see if she is alive (I used to check Michigan obituaries about once every six months).
I mean, I know she is no longer the woman I grew up with, but something inside me remains connected to her and I want to see her.
I want to touch her hand.
I want to look into her eyes.
I can’t explain it, yet I know it makes perfect sense.
Something happened to me after almost 900 days of continuous sobriety. I’ve had a lot of time to sit with the things that were too painful to face.
Last night, after I saw her picture on my computer, I closed my eyes and I was there in the basement. During the summer I used to beg her to sleep on that bed in the middle of the basement. I don’t know why. I guess I felt less alone when I was near her.
My mom’s bedroom was in the basement for as long as I can remember. She used to smoke and paint her nails…and pluck her eyebrows…and watch TV…and sleep.
Those are the only things I really remember her doing. Oh, and crossword puzzles.
I needed a mom. My gut used to ache because of how I needed her.
The nurturing, loving parent who would talk with me about my dreams, and encourage me about life, and goals, was non-existent.
Christmas stopped when I was around seven or eight.
No tree. No gifts. No dinner.
We didn’t do Thanksgiving.
Well, maybe we did once or twice.
Nothing was ever predictable or consistent.
I never even knew from one day to the next if my mom was going to talk to me.
Sometimes she’d be in the kitchen when I woke up. I’d walk in and say hello.
“Mom…Why won’t you answer me.”
She wouldn’t even look at me. It’s like I was a bother.
She made me feel hard to love.
I Am A Child. I Am Hard to Love.
Today, I have a hard time talking to people who even hint at treating me like I am hard to love. It brings up this hot hurt in my chest that quickly rises to just behind my eyes where it sits and burns.
There are people in my life today who sometimes bring up these old feelings. My initial thought is to run from them. And then sometimes I want to run from everyone.
“But we don’t live like that anymore.” Thank you, Glenn, for reminding me of this when we were driving across the state together a couple of weeks ago. Talking to you was the therapy session I desperately needed (but didn’t know it at the time). God always knows what we need.
How I Got Here
The last time my heart tried to reconcile with my mom, I was just a baby. Probably 21. I went over to her house and laid it all out. “I need a mom. I really need to have a relationship with you. Whatever I’ve done, I’m sorry.”
I sat on the floor at her feet. I was crying, pleading for our relationship. Holding onto her legs like some desperate rag of a person.
“Robin, what are you doing? Why are you acting like this?”
That was her reply.
She looked at me blankly.
Confused by my words…She dismissed me.
I left feeling dramatic. Manic. Insane.
Like I was searching for this make-believe thing that didn’t exist.
I remember telling myself I wasn’t crazy.
A few weeks later I called her. I had been drinking. I told her I wanted to die. That was the first time I ever remember saying anything like that. I think I believed if I could make my pain serious to her, if she could see how much I hurt, she would try to build something with me.
That did not happen.
And thankfully, I didn’t actually want to die, so I tried to just block it all out. I had become quite good (or so I thought) at pretending things didn’t happen.
Fast forward about 25 years and here we are.
I could go over, in exhausting detail, all the times I tried to reconnect. The anger. The memories of childhood abuse that would creep up on me from time to time, but it doesn’t matter. If I went over all the details of my childhood trauma, it would only serve to accomplish two things:
1. It would dishonor her as a person. She doesn’t deserve ill words written about her. This woman has lived through her own trauma, I am quite sure. What is past is past.
2. It would make me feel somehow justified or like a good person for attempting to reconnect with her today. The truth is, I am frail and flawed emotionally and I really don’t know what I’m doing. All I know is that I’ve been changed during these past two years and I think I am ready to follow my heart and love the woman who brought me into this world. She is, after all, the reason my children are here, and they are my greatest joy.
So, my ticket is for February 7. It’s a Tuesday. I have no preconceived ideas of what our visit will be like. I am not foolish enough to believe some magical renewal will take place in her heart for me. She may not even know who I am. She is 88, and they say she has dementia.
All I know is that I have this part of me that is still in love with her. And God has healed me. And I want to extend my love toward her…no strings attached.
Isn’t that just the way He chooses to love me?
…to be continued.