During a recent message, my pastor told the church that in order to start healing, we had to go back to the origin of the pain. I thought my point of origin was when my mother left my brothers and I, and moved to Washington, DC. I thought that was when I was abandoned; but that’s not true. I tried to feel the angst that should have come with the thought, but it wasn’t there. Instead I found the real hurt of abandonment happened with my mother right there in the house with me.
One summer evening, when I was about 7 or 8, my brothers and I were outside playing with the children of one of my mother’s friends. Somehow I fell, and cut my knee pretty badly; it required 9 stitches. I still have the scar. When it came time to have the stitches removed, I was fine, until, the nurse picked up the surgical scissors; she held them in her grip as though she meant to stab, not cut. The fear in my life was unspeakable. I refused to allow the procedure to take place. I fought with everything in me not to be stabbed by this deranged looking nurse. My uncle was a college football player, and he was called in the room to lie across my chest, in an effort to keep me still. I remember lifting him up off of me. I believe I had the strength of someone on PCP. When it was all over, the nurse was a sweaty pulp, my uncle was out of breath, and I was very angry. When we went through the waiting room, little children were crying, being held by their mothers, their mothers looked afraid, as well. My mother, my uncle, nor I spoke of what we had just experienced.
When we got home, I remember asking my mother for some juice. She didn’t respond. I didn’t understand her not responding, so I repeated the request, a couple of times. My mother did not speak to me for two weeks. She spoke to my cousin, who lived with us; and she spoke to my brothers. My mother did not speak to me. That was my first encounter with rejection, abandonment and fear. I was a little girl who lived in the house with a mother who did not speak to her, ignored. I feel pain all over again, right now.
As the years went by, the feeling of rejection and abandonment would be all too familiar. I was a kid, I was messing up all the time, no matter how hard I tried not to. Many times, I didn’t mess up, I was just contrary to my mother’s way of thinking. We were never on the same page, so anything opposing her was a reason to be shut out of her world. As I grew, I would walk on eggshells, trying not to say the wrong thing, not to do the wrong thing, nothing that would cause my mother to go silent and ignore me. No longer was it just a couple of weeks, it had moved into a couple of months.
When I became pregnant with my oldest child, I told her through a letter, because she was not speaking to me. At 20 years old, I chose to go to the Superfest in Pasadena, to see Stevie Wonder, and not church. After my mother threatened to have me institutionalized for defying her, she shut down. That was through spring, in the summer I informed her that I was pregnant and she would not make me have another abortion (she took charge of my life and I had one, the previous year), if she wanted me to leave, I would. She spoke to me through written commands, finally using her vocal chords when she decided to give me a baby shower.
Throughout my marriage, there were many, many hard days. One reason, because I was being physically abused by my husband. Another, was because I was abandoned by mother. Physically abused by him and emotionally abused by them both. I had no friends, nothing. I was trying to survive in hell with two small children. It was no wonder I had not lost my mind. But thank God I didn’t!
As my children grew (I now had three), I didn’t know how to protect them from my mother’s anger. I never learned to protect myself. Because our household was different; there was nothing my kids could do to make me ignore them; they didn’t understand why I didn’t protect them, and my girls suffered worse than my son. Yet, my mother had no respect of person, so whenever she wasn’t speaking to my kids, she wouldn’t speak to me. When she wasn’t speaking to me, she wouldn’t speak to my kids. As my girls became mothers, they learned to stand on their own, and protect not only their children, but their nieces and nephews, as well. They tried to protect me, but I would not let them, in some sick way trying to not have them incur wrath on my behalf. They learned to speak up for everyone, and I cheered them on, but I did not know how to speak for myself. Whenever I would venture to protect my grandchildren, it became “you and your kids…” and she would shut out all 3 generations. Since anything could set her off, at any given time, I learned to exist on fragile ground.
When my mother told me she was moving in with me, I had been completely alone and loving it for only 2 years. All three of my children were married, living in their own homes, raising their own children and tragedy struck me. I didn’t know how to say “no” to my mother, and she had never learned to ask permission for anything. So years later, my mother is still living in my home.
During the past 6 years, there have been many instances of her abandonment. Although now, I no longer try to get her to speak to me; I have learned to go on my merry way. Yet the pain, although not acknowledged, still existed. I learned that the fear of abandonment, had worked its way into my friendships with women and relationships with men. I couldn’t understand what it was about me that others found it so easy to dismiss me. Why would they make plans with me, and then not follow through? Why was I not worthy of a phone call, or an explanation? Why did I remember their birthdays, yet mine was so easily forgotten? I wanted so badly to be wanted, that I allowed myself to be used and ignored by people that I really didn’t want to be with. I just didn’t want them to reject me!
As I explore this cavern, I understand the origin. I have gone back to the source of the pain. I have forgiven the behavior of a frightened little girl. I have given her the juice that she requested, so many years ago. I have held her in my arms, and told her that I am so sorry, that she was scared, but she was never alone. I have taken that little girl and placed her in the open arms of Jesus. He cradles her with love and whispers in her ear. She belongs to Him, He will always protect her. No one will ever again lie across her chest and try to pin her down. It’s all over. I am not rejected, I am chosen. I am not abandoned; but in the midst of angels encampeth around me.
I have never been the cause of my mother’s pain; I don’t know the source of her anger. I am good with that knowledge. There are holes in my past that will never be filled; things I will never know or understand. I don’t know how much time I have left with my mother; either of us can go any day. But if I am the one left standing, I want to remember my mother in happy way. Good morning, Heartache, pack your bags! Good bye Fear, hello Faith! There are things that I cannot change, but God is a God of evolution, and through Him, I am evolving into a bigger, better, stronger, chosen woman.