Mom was a fighter. She was a rabble rouser. Very often, she was the loudest and crudest person in the room, and damn proud of it. She, like my father, wanted me to have kids. That was her dying wish to me. It was the last time I had the opportunity to laugh in her face. Not in a cruel way, mind you, but more at the boldness of her guilt trip. The laughter was my way of handling my surprise that even as she sat on the edge of death, she was still attempting manipulation.
I think she also knew that if I gave in, and maybe told her I would even consider it, it would have been a big step toward forgiveness. From the time I was sixteen, my mother and I battled; her guilt and my defiance would set the stage for our relationship until she died. After my step brother sexually abused me, my mother carried that around with her. She brought it up all the time; that he had written her an apology letter, that she should have known better, that she still felt bad about it. But I never could let her off the hook. But it was not about the abuse as much as it was about what made me vulnerable to it.
My mom was loved by so many. Her funeral was chock full of people wondering how they would go on without her. Some of them even said as much to me. I wasn't exactly still angry when she died, but I wasn't really upset that she had gone either. My mom had been in some form of pain for as long as I had known her. My first memories of her are of her crying in the dark. I felt that her death was a release from the pain with which she had always wrestled.
She grew into an adult having to hide who she was. She was a Jewish Lesbian at a time before it was hip. Before it was even safe. My mom had to deal with a world that would not accept her, and this must have reminded her daily of the way she was treated as a child.
But it has been ten years since she died, along with her pain, and I just had a stunning emotional episode stemming from my sexual abuse. Over the course of the last three or four gruelling, tear-filled days, I re-evaluated in a way that has exhausted me. I had new insights into why I have chosen this path for myself, why I am in an open relationship, and how I choose to love and not to love. I have had to look at all the similarities in my present relationship and the one I had with my mom. And it scares the shit out of me.
This is the darkness before the bright light of hope emerges on the horizon. This is the time where I am living in my shit, and wading through it in order to transcend. And it is, of course, Mother's Day. There is no way I can live my life without letting this holiday effect me. I know my mother loved me. I know she wanted me. I also know she was ill-equipped to raise me.
My mother could not make the requisite sacrifices necessary to raise humans. How the hell could she? She never got the message that she was astounding. No one who held any role of importance in her life ever communicated to her what a beautiful fucking genius she was. I could tell because she was clearly not aware of it. If she saw herself as the earth-shaking beautiful and brilliant change maker that she was, the pain that would eventually strangle and kill her would never have taken purchase.
This, unfortunately, is my guilt. I never told her. I was awed by my mother. I was astounded by her spirit. I see her in so many of the women I talk to; the women who were never told. The women who were not told for so long, that it became almost impossible for them to believe once it was spoken. I could never see past my own pain to let her know.
Over the last few days it has come to me that I was vulnerable to my abuser because I so desperately needed to feel love. I had for so long felt flawed, unloved, and unwanted that I came to a point where I would do anything to get it. It was also my mother's desperation for love which put me at risk. She wanted love so badly that she agreed to make her only daughter vulnerable. I hate knowing this becuase on some level, it has kept me from having kids. I never wanted to find my desperation for love at the root of the pain of my child.
I wish more than anything that I could let go of this, but as of today, I am still hanging on. I am still stuck in the place where I barely believe you when you tell me that you love me. I am still in the place that if you tell me I am beautiful, I think it is because you want something.
I have forgiven my mother. I have let all of that anger go. I am now just hoping that with the dawn and the approaching horizon, will also come some sort of release.