“When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else. - Iyanla Vanzant
Truth. I haven't had a relationship with my mother in almost 15 years. Why? Sometimes I don't even know why. In an act of transparency I am coming out with it. It's not always easy to talk about challenging situations, especially when it comes to family. Life is messy, and doesn't always come in pretty little boxes like we may want to portray. For as long as I can remember my relationship with my mother has been strained. I never understood her even as a young child. No deep closeness. It's one of those things where karmically there wasn't a deep bond. I can't explain exactly why it was like this only that it was.
I think in many ways I came into this life strong willed. I seemed to have clear idea of things. I was creative and boisterous, definitely curious. Especially curious in regards to God, religion and philosophy. Strange, I know. At the same time I could be lost in my imagination. My dreams were relentless. I also struggled with thoughts on death. Contemplating what would happen to me when I died. Blackness was all I could feel. Nothingness. I could scare myself just thinking about. These things I never talked to my parents about. At the same time I felt a strong presence around me at times. Because of a certain amount of sensitivity I held, I could take on the heaviness of others. I could easily absorb it. Especially from my parents. Somehow I felt responsible for everything.
I never had a teenage rebellion. Maybe I should have. There was no room for it, truthfully. I was a good kid (yawn). Years of perfect attendance, a cheerleader, an honor student on and off. I was funny about school. Often I didn't have the drive to make the grades and then I would easily turn it around and make it, even when taking A.P. courses. It didn't seem to matter. For the most part learning in the traditional sense was boring. I didn't like playing the game. Soon, I learned I had to, and at the same time I learned the difference between book smarts and intuitive common sense. They didn't always go hand in hand. I always thought it interesting that book smarts seemed to take precedence in the eyes of many, especially my mother who didn't approve of my lack of motivation at times. When I was inspired I excelled often to the adulation of my teachers. I new how to work it, garnering my teachers' praises on numerous occasions. Then I'd ask myself is this all there is?
You see, even though I never made waves somehow I was often met with my Mother's disapproval for whatever reason. I still to this day don't fully understand it. One of life's great mysteries. I managed to graduate highschool never drinking a drop of alcohol, never smoking cigarettes, never experimenting with illegal drugs and/or having sex. Yes, bor-ring. I never started arguments because most discussions were established on a one way street and often an interrogation would ensue on the most intense level. She talked, I listened, and often for many hours. It was drilled into me that I must at all costs respect because she was an elder and of course my mother. There was never room for discussion beyond that and I wasn't allowed to question it.
I was groomed to live in fear of her ramifications, punishments, and mood swings. Even to the point where teachers reported signs of those ramifications to authorities. A part of me died then and through the years I have done my best to bring the young girl who has laid dormant since then back to life. But would I change the experience looking back on it? I really can't say that I would. Through the challenges it only quickened me to find an authenticity and truth that maybe if my life would have been more comfortable I might not have so hungrily searched for. I can't deny or judge the complexity that is called my life, or better yet, my story, because it is simply that. I can stand at a point where somehow it was what needed to take place.
However, there came a point where I had to finally admit the nature of my relationship with my mother was simply toxic, with most phone conversations leaving me in a puddle of tears, filled with self doubt. I seemed to be the object of her provocation that I never understood at the time. I felt as if it wasn't enough that I hurt; I needed to be crushed and shattered before any form of satisfaction took place. When my mother gave me back a pile of childhood photos that used to hang on the wall in the home of my upbringing as a sign of her distaste I gave up. I needed to pick up the pieces one by one and build myself anew. So I did, as I allowed the healing to take place.
Through the years many have asked why at certain times am I withdrawn or quiet, and I can honestly say my default can easily slide into that young girl who wanted to fall apart and let go, and couldn't, because keeping some type of stability in tact was the only thing she could rely on. Through it all, even the times I have felt completely lost, with no chance of certainty, God's grace would prevail somehow, someway. This is how I came to believe on a experiential level. To know that everything is grace, even pain and confusion.
Grace is everywhere. There is learning in everything. I think when brought face to face with the challenges of life or feeling like your experience is so different from those around you can bring one to live in grace and/or to become graceful. It's a practice of sorts. Why share this now? In the end this is simply a story I have experienced and doesn't have to cause me to live in bitterness or doubt. People do the best they can with what they know or with the awareness they hold at any given time. My life has been far from perfect and in that I can then lean on the perfection that connects us all.