Stuck at the Gate

I arrived home, realizing I’d been avoiding my mailbox like the plague. My life has been busy lately, and busy tends to be translated as anxious x10 to my worrisome mind.

I killed our lawn mower. My husband killed our SUV and my van nearly died. All in that order over a three week period. While I’d like to say I handled this and the heating element of my dryer also dying with grace and patience…I did not. (But I sure thought I did!) It’s was all well and good until I showered a few nights ago. Then the tears fell – over my inability to use the soap dispenser with my ‘write’ hand. I sat down and sobbed, which made it worse, which made me sadder still. (Holy shit it’s been a ride. So glad I can’t repeat the past.)

Air drying towels and jeans should be a sin. There’s nothing I hate more than crispy towels and crunchy jeans. I can only compare it to stale cereal. Just yuck.

Anyway. That’s not what this is about.

In my mailbox was a letter…from my mother. Her cursive writing that spelled out my name and address made me feel heavy, like a laundry basket full of wet towels. I just placed it under my arm, walking inside feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders…

As I opened the envelope and pulled out the card I could see through the light blue background more cursive, more wordy thoughts, more glaring, dead references about my life, because judging is what she has always seemed to do best when it came to me. There wasn’t a bit of space left. Words were everywhere.

Not now I thought. I just can’t. I put the baby to sleep. I did dishes, folded clothes. I could not forget I’d gotten it.

Mom wrote…

Dear Bits, I was in a car accident in December in Portland. I was on my way to see my friend, my best friend since preschool. She took her own life. I didn’t know. It happened in October, but her husband hadn’t told anyone. He sent my Christmas card back, writing on the back that she’d passed. I called him and he told me everything. Just so sad.

I felt like the world had swallowed me up. 

I felt like an asshole.

I felt like a selfish asshole.

I read the rest. Out of guilt, out of remorse, and because my shame compelled me to.

Deep breath. It’s just words right?

My mothers parting lines – 

I want to ask your forgiveness and begin the restoration of our mother/daughter relationship. Let us cross over the bridge together that has kept our relationship apart, and move forward.

In my 35 years of life, not once has she said ‘I’m sorry’ for the things she’s done. Though she raised me to say it, believe it, bleed that forgiveness from every sorry pore.

I’m not ready

Deep breath

I don’t want to put away that list

The one filled with pain

Of abuse and manipulation

That one that keeps me here

Standing at the gate

My mother, filled with religion, with blame

The abyss I see just before the bridge she asks me to cross with her

I can’t

I know I should. I know that. Everything I have ever been taught, by her no less, has shown me it’s better, easier, right to cross that bridge. Everything , every Thing she’s ever done has only led me to a road void of love, and laden with the pot holes of her heavy hand, my burden to lay bare here.

Here is where I admit I hate the things she did/didn’t do. My own seething anger for all the times she beat the shit out of us because she wasn’t stable, able, willing to love – it leaves a taste of bitter fruit. The thought of letting go is at first so enticing, until a bite is taken and the drip of reality hits my palette. I can’t…

…But I will.

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24 thoughts on “Stuck at the Gate

  1. Bits, Don’t have the talk for her, do it for you. If you don’t, these unresolved feelings will weigh you down for the rest of your life when she’s gone and you can’t ask the tough questions. Mom and I are going through the process and it’s tough on her but she doesn’t want to leave me with questions. Oddly there are some I still can’t ask though.

    Crappy luck about all the break downs and I’m not talking about you.🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, **big sigh** I know I need to ask, but given her mental illness there’s not a lot I can get from asking. She gets very frustrated, almost like a cat that is in its crate for the first time. She panics, lashes out, stutters then shuts down. It’s been weighing heavy on my mind the last few days too. I want to reach out, but I want it to be healthy for me…**double big sigh**

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  2. Clearly I’m catching up on my reading, too, now, and I hope you and your mom, Bits, are able to have some restorative moments. For years, I didn’t speak to my father. Now that I do, sometimes I wish for that silence back…but not the guilt that filled it, or the sense of loss and longing that accompanied it.

    He will never be the father I need him to be. But he’s the only one I’ve been dealt, and dammit, with a child’s faith and all, I do love him, even when who he is hurts me.

    May you find your peace about your mother, whether it ends up being with her or without her. And may there be some love there that no one’s bad behavior can break!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you💜
      It is VERY hard to let go of things. I don’t know why it was so much easier with my father. Perhaps the alcohol abuse made it easier to excuse away his lacking fatherly ways.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh honey {{{{HUGS}}}}. It was a big step for her to apologize – especially if she never has before. Losing her close friend must have had a huge life changing impact on her. I understand your feelings on the flip side as well. Remember to be kind and gentle, and patient with yourself and your fragile feelings. Don’t beat yourself up and go at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Only you know what is right for you. Life is short, no guarantees – and I don’t think she could hurt you anymore if she tried to because you are much stronger and confident now. Remember that. You are whole on your own with God at your side. Nobody can take that away from you now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am whole on my own – and it’s only taken me 35 years to FEEL that. Today is my moms birthday and if she had email or a phone that accepted texts I tell her happy day and I love you, but I’m just not ready to call her. It seems like it would be more out of familial obligation and somewhat ‘fake’ given my lack of relationship with her. And, I don’t want to talk about it all out issues on her birthday-because I still feel anger. I read her apology and I know it was something she really REALLY had to break through a lot of walls to do, and my being angry would just cause her to build them up again.
      In my mind I just feel like this:
      Of all the things you told me mom, it is better to forgive, but of all the things you taught me, it is better to walk away.’
      I know in time I will contact her. I know that. I just feel like I’m stuck in a box of that makes sense. *sigh*

      Liked by 1 person

  4. OK, girl — you have me hooting out-loud and I’m barely started on this one! Crunchy jeans and crispy towels = stale cereal = totally original!

    And that is where my laughter ends. Your post stirs me to offer this story from Anna Deavere Smith, on Grace: from a Rawanda woman who survived the genocide.

    “I can’t really forgive those who violated my family and me.  I can give them grace.  To forgive someone, they have to ask me for forgiveness, and I will give it.  However, when they are oblivious to my hurt, I can’t forgive them, but I can give them grace:  I can release them, not hold onto it (pain) in my heart.”

    Powerful message. Yours, and hers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seriously though, I’ve been wearing these hand-dry-jeans all day and they still crunch at the knees! I’m sure strangers get a laugh at it.
      Lindy you’re story is right where I want to be. Forgiveness isn’t always attainable in the ways we hope it would be, but grace, oh grace is a wonderful step in the right direction.
      I feel that living so physically far from my mom (1700 miles) has allowed me to be more distant than I ever imagined o could be from her. There is that part deep inside that finds comfort in it, and yet, there are those moments I wish she was so close I could smell her vanilla scented hand cream.
      Thank you for this sweet lady💜

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    1. Now there’s a song that will linger forever in my ears. I’m going to tell myself that all weekend! 2116 here I come💜I’m feeling much better. The outpouring of support here has been just wonderful. Thank you!

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  5. Oh dear friend, this is a hard time. I have gone thru any times where I disconnect from my mother too. I usually find my way back to then remember why I’d disconnected and the cycle starts again. But, in the end I usually DO go back and try. I’ve found that keeping it simple works best. I try to keep it somewhat superficial. I try not to engage in her drama, preferring to listen without giving input. Knowing whatever I say will be given a twist and passed along to others to incite more drama. I’ve learned I can enjoy her as long gone as I keep myself on guard and don’t expect too much. I try. Sometimes it’s OK, and sometimes I am left feeling angry.
    Take your time and do what is good for you and yours. If you aren’t ready, rushing it will cause more disruption.
    Good luck.

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    1. That’s how I feel! My guard is always up. I can’t say anything about anything or everything falls apart-in my lap-and it just is not healthy! When you haven’t spoken to her in a while-how do even begin to approach her after this long? I don’t want to reclaim her point of view and take blame for her destruction, which to put it simply would just be history repeating itself. She is retired now, and since she has nothing to do everything I say and do becomes her business. She canceled her email without forwarding a new one to me, has no home phone. My heart just breaks when I think of all the ‘I’m so sorry’ emails I sent her the first weeks into this separation. My brother told me what she’d done. I’m not ready. Just reading this comment tells me as much. Thank you for your kind words. I’ve taken them to heart💜

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      1. I know this will weigh on you…even sometimes subconsciously. You’ve dealt with so much this week…I hope you can find a few moments to do something good for you to recoup. Sigh. It’s hard to do…

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  6. I agree with Ally. Now may not be the time and I love your analogy of being tossed in the dryer (although it sounds like you currently would not be at risk of shrinking).

    Wanting to care for yourself does not make you selfish. That care is what is going to keep you around (and present) longer for your family. It would be far more selfish to check out, to burn out, or to otherwise give of yourself too much and too often until you have nothing left like a field that is over harvested instead of retaining seeds for next year.

    And WHY are all of our of big expensive items breaking at the same time!

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    1. Caring for myself-that’s a great perspective. Since not having any contact with my mom, who I do love, my anxiety has been less. I don’t feel the need to call her, and then wonder which of her will answer. That is healing.
      And about all my spend-orific repairs…I know right! You should see my deck this morning! It is Covered in wet hung clothes, towels. The hubby put new spark plugs in the SUV. My van is sitting in our driveway, because it can wait for the nearly $1500 repair. Hubby fixed the mower too! Apparently I, the self reliant one, put in waaaaaaay to much oil in it. ***big cheesy grin over here***

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        1. Lady I feel your pain! And that hubby of mine is pretty great isn’t he. My dryer is in pieces down stairs, bolts strewn across the floor…but he will get to it eventually! If we were close to you he’d probably bring your hubby beer, and watch too many mr fixit YouTube videos. But they’d get it done…eventually! Lol
          I hate having stove problems! It always seems to happen when I’m really in a cooking mood too. Good excuse to go out for dinner??? Maybe?

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  7. Powerful stuff here. My thought is that you do things in your own time, in your own way. Don’t let yourself feel pushed into connecting before you’re ready. Personal experience has taught me that if I’m around people who have the power to drive me crazy, they will drive me crazy IF I’m not mentally and spiritually ready for them. FWIW.

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    1. FWIW, I take your words to heart Ally.
      I feel, because the past has taught me, that her starting her letter with something so heartbreaking was intended to be ‘so heart-breaking. I feel like I’m being tossed in a dryer on high heat, shrinking. I think your advice is right. I’m not ready. If I can’t let go, it will only cause more strife. Thank you friend💜

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