If You See My Mother

If you see my mother today, be kind.

She has gone through the worst kind of hell you see, the unimaginable heartbreak of losing a child. Two children, actually.

In addition, she has suffered the shame and shunning that comes from people who don’t understand, people who think it is her fault. People who think she must not deserve her children. Don’t be one of those people.

If you find my mother hiding, be kind. If you notice her heart is shielded, be kind.

Know that things are not always as they seem. Know that a parent without her child may be good and are now broken, and undeserving of such cruelty.

You may see my mother in the grocery store, on the street, in the school or at work. She may be in the face of a dad, without his children, of a young mother, childless. You may be his friend, neighbor, brother, acquaintance.

Know that you may not know. You may not know the truth, her heart, his heart, the tragedy that may have unfolded. You may not know the heartbreak and the horror of what they have gone through. Know that you may not know.

Be kind.

When you see my mother, even if she has downcast eyes or a protected heart, be kind.

If she is hiding or alone or hesitant to see you, see her anyway.

Know that you may not know. Consider that she has been broken in the worst possible way.

Consider that she may never heal from what has been taken from her.

She may not be able to love again with a full heart, because her heart has been shattered.

Love her anyway.

Be kind.

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19 thoughts on “If You See My Mother

  1. I’m one of those mothers who gets up every morning & gives everyone a smile & proceeds with her day as if her life is rosey. I’m one of those mothers who puts on an academy award winning performance in front of neighbors, co-workers, family & friends during the holidays. I’m one of those mothers that lives in a dark tunnel waiting to see the light at the other end. I’m one of those mothers who wishes there were no Mother’s Day. I’m one of those mothers who drenches her pillow at night from a broken heart & a shattered soul. I’m one of those mothers whose arms ache to hug her 4 children again. I’m one of those mothers who longs to kiss the cheeks of her children & to hear their voices even if just on the phone. I’m one of those mothers who has a void in her life as big as the Grand Canyon. I’m one of those mothers who prayers twice a day for her children to be healthy & safe. I’m one of those mothers who finds it hard to be truthful when asked, “how are your kids, what are your plans for the holidays, who’s coming to visit, will you travel to see your kids?” I’m one of those mothers that when she does find someone she can speak to about her kids it’s with a lump in her throat & eyes brimming with tears. I’m one of those mothers who never takes a vacation because she has no one to see or place she cares to go, so she rather work to keep busy & her mind off her life. I’m one of those mothers who wonders what will happen in my old age. I’m one of those mothers who fears she will never see her children again & she will be all alone in the end.
    Thanks for your writing & your empathy. I hope you find a way back to your mother.

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    1. Tammy, this breaks my hardened heart. Often I am so disassociated from my heart, my past, my dreams, that I don’t feel, or I am unaware. I think I try to trick my heart into choosing to keep beating. Because I am numb, and, fortunately, blessed by the love of others and the shared stories that at least help release me from some shame and disconnection, I forget how much I, too, still love and hurt because of my ex’s alienation/maternal deprivation and my stepdad’s role in supporting this abuse that not only harms me but my children and all who care for us. I pray for a miracle for you.

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  2. Thank you for this beautiful post. I only hope that my lost daughter found a way to heal even as I feel like I am only a cut rose resting in a broken vase barely glued back together and ever so tentatively trying to contain my bloom and beauty in it. I try shining despite my thorns, but I feel plucked and used and tossed away to wither in the broken vase.

    I no longer believe she will find her way back to me and even though we tried so hard to be family with her. We were not perfect nor was she. However, she is unable to forgive and I have huge doubts that she loved us before or loves us now or even misses us.

    As I type this to a stranger on the Internet, all I want to do is to forget that I even had a daughter, a child, because some days, the water bursts from the fractured vase, as if it had never been glued together, and other days, it’s glued but bits of water seep out. Some days, I can feel the flower in me try to bloom and flourish despite the broken vase, but other days, I’m just wilted and tired of faking it.

    Maybe I will be more than that, but as you write…be kind to me today because not only do I blame myself too much, she blames me too, and the world does too, and I am weary of facing those judgmental people who make me feel even more worthless and I’m weary of my own guilty feelings driving me under. Though I guess I am worthless to the lost child anyways, so maybe they are right and I deserve their condemnation.

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    1. My thought is that you need to take steps to take care of yourself- physically, emotionally, mentally. Keep making once choice after the other that will strengthen you. Meditate or take up yoga, eat healthy food, exercise, journal, simplify, declutter in mind, body, spirit and surroundings. There IS a strong and healthy and amazing Self under all your pain and regret. One healthy choice at a time will uncover that Self, bit by bit.

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      1. Thank you for the portions of your story you put out there. I know for you, as the lost daughter, there must be days where you need the same tender care. Alienation of families isn’t just a minor deal; it hurts everyone involved, especially the ones who have been pushed out. (I suppose if you are the person promoting the alienation then you are relieved to just cut people off but whenever a person encourages alienation and cutting off people, they have no idea of the hurt they are giving others and I assume that hurt will return to the person who did the cutting off later).

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    2. I am an alienated mom reading Dr Brene Brown’s extensive research on the harmful effects of shaming and how it interferes with people’s ability to heal, reconcile, forgive, give and receive empathy, etc. The judgment and shaming I have endured has created even more harm and I fear I can never have a relationship with my daughter that is not full of hurt. I love her so much and want her to feel loved and safe, but I do not want to be anywhere near her because she rejects me, blames me and uses me.

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  3. Yes, self care has absolutely been important to me. I literally have needed to mother myself. Though my father does not take any responsibility for the “cutting ties” with my mother, and in fact (as is classic w/ alienating parents), he has justified his actions to himself, I agree this causes suffering to himself as well. His actions stemmed from his own suffering (abused child, etc) and surely continue to hurt his spirit. My memoir is in no way a form of retaliation, and after its publication I am sure my father will likely “feel hurt” over my truth being written, but it could also be an opportunity for him for healing. Whether he will ever see it that way or not is out of my control though. I am certainly not counting on it. I am writing it because it is my story to write. I write it w/ forgiveness to all involved, including myself (for not being brave enough to speak out sooner, etc).

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  4. Thank you for this for I am a broken father. Sometimes the pain is unbearable and sometimes I can hide it but it has broken my heart. It has broken me and I don’t know how I can ever be whole again.

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    1. I sincerely hope you reconnect with your child(ren) some day. Have hope. If they are still children, visit Dr. Craig Childress’s blog and see his new book, Foundations. If they are adults, know that in a moment, they could reconsider all of what they thought they knew.

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