This may be the single most difficult post for me to write. Even as I begin, I'm hesitating and I'm frustrated by that.
When it comes to speaking of my own sins and past behavior, I'm much more comfortable. I can take the judgement. I've encountered spiritual battles that make random commenter's/blogger's indictments of me seem sophomoric and petty.
But when it comes to talking about someone who is no longer alive and unable to defend themselves, rationalize their behavior, or explain their decisions, I cower. I've been shamed into silence for twenty-one years. Sometimes by individuals close to my mother but most of the time by my own guilt. No matter the pain I experienced, no matter the loneliness, the longing for a normal, stable home, the mourning of innocence lost, the mourning of loved ones ripped away from me...don't speak of it. She suffered. She was ill. It wasn't her fault. She didn't know any better. You'll be okay.
She did as much as she could.
As a child of a parent who made many decisions with careless disregard of their outcomes, I vacillate between preserving her honor and helping others who may be living an experience close to my own. I vacillate between "Fuck that, she failed!" and "My life turned out good, all is okay."
I got to spend some time with a young woman whose mother also died very early. Her story has haunted me since. Her mother, the woman who was charged to be her guardian, her nurturer...her mom, was anything but. This woman left a legacy of pain and anguish. She abandoned her family, was addicted to drugs and a self absorbed life, and died all alone - her corpse was decomposed when she was finally found. No more truer example of "Fuck that, she failed!"
I asked this young woman to try and recall something good. Something she could go on that at least her mother did ____... Nothing but the fact she wasn't aborted. She was given a chance to live life. I have many memories of good times with my mother. It is those memories I've clung to in order to justify the painful memories. Though, I'll admit, being a mother of a teenage daughter who is a virgin, who has never given into peer pressure, who is on fire for the Lord...it makes it more difficult to accept the life I lived, knowing my mother abdicated her role, for whatever reason, at my expense. When I analyze what it has taken for me to mother the way I've chosen to and the results I see of that, I struggle with the anger that comes over me - why was this too hard for my own mother?
My struggle always brings me back to the Word. And the Word says to forgive.
Should I forgive and not speak of it? How then can I help another? How can I give comfort to this young woman who had it far worse? How do I give her hope if I don't tell my testimony of overcoming, of grace, of perseverance...of knowing the protection of a loving Savior, who, in my darkest times, surrounded me in His loving embrace and told me "You are worthy."
It honestly isn't the way she lived that troubles me the most. It's sensing that it was best that she died that haunts me.
God only gives you as much as you can handle. Right?
That's what we're told. That is what gave me comfort in the days after her death, days that I was supposed to be elated that I was graduating high school, instead I was helping to plan a funeral. When I was planning my wedding, again it pained me to write a memorial for my mother in the program instead of having her there to help me plan. When I was pregnant with my first child and clueless, again I was overwhelmed with a longing to have my own mom there with me.
What would her advice to me have been when I was struggling early on in my marriage? When I was failing miserably fourteen years into my marriage? When I was pulled in the direction she chose so flippantly - twice...to divorce.
What would she think of our adherence to biblical instruction on parenting and marriage? When she was the one who had dropped me off at a church she refused to attend?
What would she think of my anti-feminst views? That my children have never seen the inside of a daycare, yet she dropped me off as an infant of four weeks. I remember it being a liberal badge of honor, "you've been in school since you were four weeks old." - Yes, I'm brilliant. Unattached, lacking empathy, without discretion or a sense of right or wrong... but I'm SMART!!! And isn't that all that matters?
What would she think of my foregoing a "you go grrrl" career in exchange for being my husband's helpmeet? For making his vocation the priority and under-girding his ship in every way I possibly could?
Would any of this have happened...if she was still alive?
Would I have sought marriage at age nineteen? Would I have cleaved to my husband? Would I have accepted mentor-ship from my mother-in-law? Would I have returned to my Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ?
And still, I have not mentioned what was so terrible. Yes, she was a feminist - a liberal democrat. She voted against Reagan but failed to monitor my television time...I saw all the speeches. I remember Reagan fondly. She forgot to tell me to hate him.
She lost control completely once when I was fourteen. She resorted to dealing with me physically. I don't remember the details of the argument but I know she had lost it in an irrational rage. She began beating me over the head with a cordless phone. I used all the strength I had left in my body to push her off after about the tenth blow, I ran to my bedroom, dazed with welts growing on my head, and escaped out my bedroom window.
I had nowhere to go. I walked aimlessly around town for hours. It would have been shameful to go to the authorities, so I returned home. I accepted full responsibility for the beating. It was my fault. I deserved it. I hated her. But I felt such pity for her.
I didn't regain much more for her than pity for the last three years of her life. I had no respect for her. I stayed away from her as much as I could. I worked as many hours as I could. When I finally had my drivers license I was able to stay away even more.
The last months of her life were awful. She was confined to a hospital bed. Her brain tumors had rendered most of her brain non-functioning. I fought horrible thoughts every.single.day. "God, please just take her." She had a bell she would ring when she needed something. I dreaded hearing the bell. Every morning I would go to her bed with hope that she'd be gone. It wasn't just the long, drawn out death from cancer, it was the crazy shit she'd say, the guilt trips, the indignation she verbalized. She was void of compassion and full of self pity. She seemed to desire for us to suffer as she was suffering.
This sounds awful as I read it back. These were the thoughts of a seventeen year old, messed up, angry girl. Or maybe that's just the guilt talking. Maybe I want to believe these are the thoughts of a seventeen year old girl when they are the reality of watching someone die who lived a life of entitled selfishness - and again, I feel wrong writing that.
Here's what I've learned. This is for any of you who have lived anything similar. Whatever your parent wasn't...You Can Be!
For the young woman I spoke to recently, you can be the mother you were denied. You can make it all right. It takes an acute awareness, faith, forgiveness, and likely a strong example/mentor in your life.
Any of you who came from the selfishness and destruction of feminism...you too can make it right, you can turn the tide. For all the lies you've been told and lies you've lived, you can bring forth the truth and the hope.
I have been immensely blessed in having a mother-in-law who has been for me all that I was missing. Her unfailing love, support, and encouragement has replenished in my life all that I had longed for. She is married to a mighty strong man and provided me a mighty strong man who married me. Their patience with me has been overwhelming. They embody all I had heard whispered in my heart of God's provision. That He can make things good. And that He did.
The young woman I spoke to will also have this all available to her. It's possible she'll be asked to marry into our family.
If you are reading this, darling, I encourage you to do all you must do to receive this honor.
I know your life has been broken. Through no fault of your own you have been broken. It can all be made whole.
You must forgive. You must release the pain and poison of unforgiveness. This in no way erases it, but it does release you from its burden. There will be times you will have to forgive daily, hourly even. But you keep at it. Praying for His help and guidance. Release the bitterness, release the injustice. Give it all to Him.