It's Mother's day, I'm 33 years old, and it's still not perfect. It's not the adorable mother-daughter-best-friend-talk-on-the-phone-everyday, nor is it the cool confidence of detached with love. I thought I would have it handled by now. But as I sit here reflecting on my relationship with my mother, my failings, my frustration, I am realizing the obvious; I am not alone. I have read several articles over the past few days written by daughters of alcoholics and of mothers suffering from mental illness, and it gave me comfort. So I thought I would share something from my mother-daughter story. I dug up a letter I wrote a few years ago when I was working on an amends for my mother. I never gave her this letter, but the exercise was powerful. Reading it again, I am reminded of my commitment to being different, as well as my ability to love and forgive. It brought me back to the spirit of my amends work. I am sharing it here, maybe some people can relate. Either way, much love to all the mothers, and daughters, and sons.
Remember how you used to write letters every time you argued with us. Because you couldn't say you were sorry, so you had to put it in a letter. I get that. I have been wrong, and finally, I am sorry. And I am putting it in a letter, and now, I am like you.
It feels heavy to write this. Like the keypad is made of stone, like this letter has been a long time coming. I know you have been waiting for me. You have been waiting for me to break for years. My icy demeanor has not thawed, as you might have hoped. Sometimes you were patient with me, sometimes angry, sometimes scared. Mostly scared, I think. I was too. I think we might have both been scared of the same thing. That it would always be like this.
I must admit, it was exhausting to be so distant. And painful to be so miserly with my care and affection. I'm sure it was painful for you. Like a knife through a wound. You were always so afraid I would leave you, and it became an easy hand to play. I was always so insulted, had I not been there in the past? But that's the thing about fear, it's our own enemy, and it doesn't have to make sense. So, I pretended that you didn't love me, so it wouldn't be so wrong for me to turn away. And then the tests began, do you love me if, do you love me when, how much? How little? It was wrong to test you. I realize that now. And you couldn't win, because it was all in my head so I could fail you whenever I needed to, in order to satisfy my own self-pitying designs.
I miss you. I almost forgot what it used to feel like to be close to you. But I didn't. It was nice. It seems strange to tell you that I have forgiven you, since I'm not sure that you ever asked me for forgiveness. But I don't think I can go back there anymore. I treated you poorly because of my own fears and inadequacies. I was so powerless. I am so powerless. I really had believed that we would never get better, that our cuts would never heal, and I would always be afraid of you, and make you afraid of me. But God is everything. And God is in this. And I can feel the scabs on all the tears with my fingertips. Soon there will be scar tissue there.
"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. "
Your favorite. Camus. I always think of you with that quote. I think of your ups and your downs, your failures and triumphs and that there is always, within a light that never goes out completely. I remember it now, your intoxicating charisma. The feeling of victory when I feel close to you. Our summer, surely its invincible.