If you ever need to hear a voice in the middle of the night
When it seems so black outside that you can’t remember
Light ever shone on you or the ones you love in this or another lifetime
A moment, and a lifetime.
On this day two years ago, my youngest two children disowned me. Their reasons are their own, and I have given up trying to understand them.
I have also let go of the guilt that their reasons are possibly all my fault, because they are not, at least not entirely.
Yes, I’ve had something to contribute to their cold indifference and righteous anger, but in the end, their refusal to acknowledge and respect me as their mother is completely on them as they are grown adults. They continue their estrangement knowing full well there are other options, and knowing I am utterly transparent in my remorse and regret for all things I did to hurt them.
What remains, however, is grief. A grief so pure, so all-consuming at times, that for the most part there are no words or reprieve.
My husband has held me countless times as I have broken down and cried without any explanation. I have sobbed alone in the car, the shower, into my pillow, and while looking at photos of them as children and young adults.
Still, I have carried on with my life to fulfill my purpose as a crafter of words, with some small success, and I remind myself each day to remain grateful for my other two children, family, and friends.
That said, what does a mother do with her grief in such circumstances?
I know I am not alone. I’ve heard from many who have read my blog and know my story that there are other moms and dads out there whose children have severed relationship. They have probably heard all the inept responses and platitudes I have experienced. No one can speak to such a situation unless they’ve been there, and that is okay. There are many situations I have no idea how to speak to as I have not gone through them. None of that matters.
What matters is that in our grief, we are able to express it in healthy ways so we can heal. While there are wounds that seemingly never heal, there are times when we can have some relief from the pain.
As a breaker of silence, I refuse to withhold all of my thoughts and feelings just to keep others comfortable. Believe me, I tried that for years, and did more harm than good.
I developed an eating disorder in my mid-teens. Stuffing my face with food, then purging it, and often denying myself food at all. A cycle I repeated over and over, until I felt numb and disconnected. Eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, compulsive overeating—they are not unlike drinking, taking drugs, gambling, sex and relationship addiction, or any other kind of mood-altering activity. The subconscious and overarching goal is not to feel. I was all at once an expert and a complete failure in that regard.
This week has been hard. While I learned that my cousin passed away after a two-year battle with liver cancer, I also held my breath, anxious and melancholy, anticipating this day. Add to that so many other complications of life such as disease in family members and friends, deaths, my own health issues that have forced me to accept some physical and emotional limitations, reality has been hard to swallow.
Rather than stuff it all down, and ultimately either restrict the food my body needs or start a binge and purge cycle that mimics how I ultimately suppress and express my feelings, I did something else.
After my tears began to subside, I began putting words to paper. At this point, bleeding on paper and on this keyboard are my only healthy alternatives. I cannot succumb to my former impulses to numb out with unhealthy eating practices, depression or anxiety. Nor can I put on my Nike’s and run, seeking isolation or another world, as I’ve been known to do.
No, here and now, I have to be present in the moment and let the pain wash through me and onto the page. I have to let others know they are not alone. I have to remind myself that despite my broken heart, I still have something of value to contribute to this world.
Rejection and abandonment used to be the mainstays of my life dynamic. I pushed people away and built massive walls to keep them out so they wouldn’t hurt me by leaving me, or realize they didn’t want me in the first place. Perhaps this is what my children are mired in right now. I really do not know. However, I do know the pain of that place, and I hope they learn faster than I did.
Meanwhile, in this moment, all I can do is love myself and remember I am loved by others. How I express that is here, in my words, as a declaration of strength in the weakest moments, and a promise that we don’t have to be disconnected and alone.
It’s our choice.
So, for anyone who may be grieving for something or someone lost, or who may be mired in anger, resentment and disconnection, here is my voice and my hand. May they speak to you, and comfort you.