When I was struggling with my son’s radically unacceptable behavior a few years back, what was most difficult for me to remember was that what we were going through did not necessarily mean the things I thought it meant.
His decisions to do the things he did didn’t mean he didn’t love me, but I thought it did. In fact, many of our arguments were specifically about that issue, and the argument usually started with my accusation, “How could you do this TO ME if you love me?”
I could not see how a son of mine, nursed lovingly at the breast for THREE AND A HALF FREAKING YEARS, could love me and choose to run off and live on the streets of San Francisco! Of course, if he loved me he wouldn’t do that!
Makes sense, right? Didn’t he understand the pain he was causing me? Didn’t he even consider me and my feelings at all? Where was I in his decisions?
I didn’t see at that time that I had even a tiny place in his heart. From my point of view, I couldn’t see where I mattered to him at all.
And that hurt, dammit. That hurt A LOT.
I wish my mother weren’t dead. And now I don’t think I really grieved her passing until this past month. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I felt sad when she died. I cried. We had a memorial. Griefy stuff like that. But real grief? No. I don’t think so.
I didn’t really begin to grieve my mother’s passing until I realized that the only person in the entire world I really want to talk to is her, and she isn’t here for me to talk to anymore.
Despite having good friends standing at the ready, and a sister who took my hysterical–and just possibly very drunken–phone call the other night, it feels to me that no one else can truly understand me and my circumstances like my mom would have.
I imagine myself driving over to her house. She would listen to me rage. She would let me sob. And at the end she would hold my head in her lap and smooth my hair and tell me that it is all going to be okay and then she’d say something like, “You are not your circumstances. This does not define you.”
And then she would make the most inappropriate joke and we would laugh and laugh. And for a moment the storm of my circumstances wouldn’t seem so overwhelming.
Getting lost in the storm of one’s circumstances and allowing it to define who you are is so easy to do. And depending on the degree of the storm, there will likely be a time when you will be fully consumed by it. Even a time when you should be fully consumed by it.
And just like real storms, destruction lies in the wake of life’s storms; the destruction of what we had (or thought we had) and maybe even who we were (or thought we were). Somehow we have to take inventory all over again. Who are we? What is it we have?
And then comes the grieving over the losses which creates a storm all its own.
There is a point when it’s appropriate to fully grieve our losses, but then comes a time when we need to move on and let it go and allow ourselves to heal and move forward.
Knowing when that point is though is the differences between personal growth and emotional retardation. Move on too quickly and we’re bound to find ourselves revisiting the pain at some inconvenient point in the future, but allow ourselves to stay stuck too long and we’ll only become bitter.
I hope you listen to today’s song. It speaks to my heart and soul in such a profoundly deep way. I hope that you too can find a way to climb your hill after your own storm and see hope in your circumstances whatever they may be. Take my virtual hand and maybe we can find grace there.