If ever there was a day for journaling, this is it. For I can’t think of another day in the year that brings up as many conflicting emotions as Mother’s Day. Talking greeting cards, flowers, and breakfast in bed are all nice gestures to acknowledge our mothers. But the truth is, for many of us–whether we’re the child or the mother–there’s an aching pain below the surface.
Let me list some possible reasons:
- You’ve lost a mother you adored
- Your mother left you
- Your mother was/is a terrible mother
- Your child died
- You terminated a child
- You can’t have children
- You gave a child up for adoption
- Your children have abandoned you
The list could go on and on, but I’ll stop because my intention is not to depress everyone on Mother’s Day. Quite the opposite. I just want the healing to begin.
The mother/child relationship is a sacred one but often fraught with turmoil and heartache. What can give us the greatest joy can also cause the greatest pain. We humans have monumental expectations of others and of ourselves. And when these expectations don’t turn out as planned we start stuffing our grief, anger, pain, guilt and shame down deep where we think it can’t hurt us. But it eventually rises to the surface and begs to be acknowledged.
And here’s where the light can come in. From an energetic point of view, all of the emotions I just mentioned are dark, negative energy that can wreak havoc on our mind, body and spirit. We must do everything in our power to dissipate it. Think about opposite emotions that we have a conscious choice to embrace. Happiness, joy, forgiveness, and self-love. These are light, positive energetic forces that lift us up, heal us and can make us whole again.
My own relationship with my mother was a tumultuous one. She was never cruel or abusive like some, but we always seemed to be at odds. Under the surface kind of stuff. Towards the end of her life I was finally able to see things from a different perspective and take responsibility for the role I had played in our drama. I consider it a gift that I was able to spend a great deal of time with her in her last years and heal a wound that had festered for far too long. I was alone with her when she took her final breath and in spite of the grief, I was grateful to have been by her side.
Years later when I began journaling and exploring the relationships in my life, I began to look at my relationship with my mother in a different light. She herself had lost her mother when she was eight years old and was one of eleven children growing up in Detroit in the early 1900’s. She witnessed a lot of death and sadness in her childhood, more than I can even imagine. There are always two sides to every story and we need to remember that.
I look at pictures of my mother now and see her fun-loving nature – climbing the dunes with her girls instead of sitting and watching, or riding on a jet ski for the first time in her 80′s!) I see her devotion to our family and what a proud determined woman she was. I think I inherited her resiliency, that’s for sure. I have long ago let go of the stuff that caused us to be at odds with each other. Gone.
And then there’s my relationship with my two children. They are grown now and off living their own lives. My emotion of choice was guilt for many many years. We have all worked hard to re-build any bridges that were burned in the wake of my divorce with their father. I have let go of the guilt of letting them down, of not being there for them. I was the absolute best mother I could be at every stage of their life and mine. I have sent the guilt into the ethers and only think now of the unimaginable joy that they blessed me with as young children and that they still honor me with today. I have loved them unconditionally since the day I first set eyes on them. They are both remarkable in so many ways, and I am grateful to be their mother.
If you are hurting today or any other day because of your relationship with your mother or your children, know that you have the power within to let go of the pain. Here are some suggestions that have been helpful for me:
- Journal. Writing about it or speaking aloud what needs to be said is powerfully healing. This blog is a form of healing for me, by the way.
- Having a ceremony is another way to let go. Write out what needs to be said, burn it or bury it and say goodbye to the pain and the hurt.
- Read “Truth Heals” by Deborah King. I guarantee you will learn how to release deep-seated emotions in a safe and healing way, leading to healthier and happier relationships.
- Let Mother Nature nurture and wrap you in her embrace. She is Mother to us all and is there for us whenever we need her. Go outside and be with your Mother whenever you need her.
- Know that you have the right to remove yourself from a toxic relationship. It may not be the right time now to heal the wounds if both parties are not willing or able. Just keep the door open.
- Ask or grant forgiveness. Write a letter if things are too painful to say in person.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it.”
As I was finishing up this post, I glanced over to a little glass container that holds business cards, notes, etc. A card that was sticking up out of the pile caught my eye and I pulled it out. I kid you not–it was the prayer card from my mother’s funeral. You can’t make this stuff up. I turned it over and this is what it says:
“LIFE is to live and life is to give and
talents are to use for good if you choose.
Do not pray for easy lives.
Pray to be stronger.
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers.
Pray for powers equal to your tasks –
then the doing of your work shall be no miracle
but you shall be a miracle.
Every day you shall wonder at yourself…
at the richness of life which has come
to you by the grace of God.
But everyone needs someone – knowing that
somewhere someone is thinking of you…”
– Fr. Solanus Casey, Capuchin
Be strong, be brave, and love yourself. My wish to all of you today is for a happy, healing Mother’s Day, every day.