Until I recently posted about it on my blog, I’ve been ashamed to admit estrangement from my mom. I blamed myself for the lack of relationship and struggled with thoughts that no one would like me since it seemed I wasn’t liked by Mom.
I’ve been unable to pinpoint the exact cause of our missing bond, but the best I can figure is Mom liked quiet and thought it best to ignore anything unpleasant, to pretend it didn’t happen in hopes it’d go away if we didn’t mention it.
I, on the other hand, am a talker. I believe it’s wise to converse about whatever is going on as a way to get to the other side of an issue.
It was sad hearing about Mom’s death on July 11th. The news put an end to any possibility that we’d talk our way through this one. However, in the midst of a tearful conversation with my daughter, she made an amusing observation that perfectly characterized my mom.
“Granny wasn’t hanging around if you were going to start talking about her on your blog,” she said.
Mom was not online, so she had no way of knowing about my blog posts. Still, the timing of her death seemed uncanny. I thought, “Maybe there is something to her leaving now.”
I wondered how her physical absence would affect my willingness to tell our story. Not that I’m wanting to air our family’s dirty laundry – I don’t see any need for others to know much of what happened. After all, all of us have been hurt and our stories are more similar than not.
Also similar is that many of us have been told, “Don’t talk about what happened.”
Oh, maybe no one voiced these words, but we got the message to sit in silence with our pain. Mom’s way was to cry for three days (according to my dad, the length of time was always the same) each time I brought up a memory she thought better left unspoken. An elderly friend confirmed what I suspected when she told me she also cried at her daughter and the tears were more about control than sadness.
Whatever Mom’s reason, I stopped talking.
Silencing my feelings led to the worst depression I’ve experienced. I knew better than to shut up, but I hoped to wrangle my emotions to the ground and get over the ones I was told I shouldn’t talk about, then we could restore our relationship.
Instead of overcoming my feelings, I ended up the one on the ground. There I stayed for years, beaten and bruised and sort of pathetic because I wouldn’t speak up.
I did what I hated seeing Mom do; I blamed her (and anyone like her) for my silence, for my depression, and for not being able to get past my past.
Turns out, Mom wasn’t the problem. My silence was the problem.
I could keep blaming her because she encouraged the silence or I could get up off the ground, show up at my laptop, and share posts like the most difficult I’ve written to date, one about my daughter and granddaughter-to-be, Girls Aren’t Safe Here.
Is there something you need to say? Maybe the time is now.
WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – I want our family to live out loud for the sake of healing and happiness and helping others to do the same, and I’m willing to go first. Here’s to speaking up (respectfully, of course).
On the side: Our family’s relationship with Mom was complicated and painful, but we never stopped loving and I’m guessing she didn’t either. In light of this quote, I’m hoping Mom’s death reunites us, “Death doesn’t end a relationship – it changes it.”
Thank you to family and friends who encouraged us throughout this season and who expressly showed up the past week with flowers, messages, sympathy cards, phone calls, visits and much love.