My dear Elizabeth –
Everyone has struggles. Everyone has a past that can follow them around like Quasimodo’s hump, if they choose to let it. As I have gotten older I have become more attuned to the fact that we get to choose if that lump is attached to us, or if we just set it down somewhere, out in a field, to be forgotten about. WE GET TO CHOOSE.
I didn’t have the best relationship with my dad. It has taken me three years after his death to forgive him for his severe lack of communication skills. It has taken me this long to forgive the fact that he taught all of us that the younger you are in the family, the less you matter. It has taken this long to forgive myself for feeling insignificant and unworthy. A relationship, even an unhealthy one, is a two way street. While you have one person who is treating someone in what one can perceive to be a negative way, the person perceiving and allowing that behavior to affect them is just as vested in that relationship.
I did have some really crappy moments growing up – humiliated daily so others could elevate their status as the funniest. However, once an adult I never learned to let that go. I expected the same treatment from anyone and believed with my whole heart that I was only worthy to be a punching bag or a stepping stone. It has taken me years to realize that no one else is responsible for those feelings except for me. While there were “moments” growing up that were not-so-good, I was the one that chose to let those moments define me and define my future relationships. What should have been a clean slate as soon as I graduated high school turned into a laundry bag, then a large capacity garbage bin, and then an all out garbage truck to hold all of the negative thoughts about myself. And I was very protective over that garbage truck. That garbage truck was my life-line, my identity. Who was I if I wasn’t the butt of every joke? Who was I if I could no longer tout the badge of most humiliated? What would I think about if I didn’t have that negative, self deprecating reel of dialogue CONSTANTLY playing in my head? What WOULD I think about?
My dad died before I could ever tell him thank you. I realized too late that he actually taught me a lot. He taught me a lot about what kind of a person I didn’t want to be, but he also taught me a lot about the kind of person I do want to be. I have my dad to thank for the transformation I have gone through in the last three years.
While cleaning out my dad’s house after his death I came across a book by Deepak Chopra called How To Know God. Well, even though I totally know the Big Guy, who wouldn’t want to know him better? So, I claimed it. That one action set me on a course to a new world and I will never, ever look back. I also took other books and journals of my dad’s. They were the absolute best present he ever gave me.
I learned about who he really was and was introduced to teachers that I still learn from every day. Thank God for free You Tube audio books and seminars! Deepak Chopra, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Abraham and Esther Hicks – so inspiring! My dad studied Deepak and also Dr. Dyer at great length and it was only after his death that I realized all the conversations we had surrounding them, he was trying to teach me, he was influencing me to THINK. I know that sounds silly, but to actually think about your actions and your thoughts and realize that you have power over them? That is a priceless education. (Dr. Dyer just passed about 10 days ago and I will miss his teachings immensely) Unfortunately, I was too busy feeling sorry for myself and playing the victim role to REALLY listen to him. I gave into the societal expectation that whatever you are as an adult is the direct result of how you grow up. People are “screwed up” because of how their parents treated them. No. Not anymore. I’m not screwed up. My parents had their issues, yes, but I was super good at claiming zero responsibility for my personality, how I react to things, how I lived my daily life. So easy to say, “Well, because my parents did this, that is why I am the way that I am”. Totally had to start calling BS on myself.
Two years ago we started on a downward spiral financially due to your father getting laid off after 12 years at his job. I will admit that some days were very dark for me. But, I was able to lean on your dad and lean on my dad, who was showing me the way, every day, through the dark. So, while our relationship wasn’t the best while he was alive, looking back now I see that I was just as responsible for that as he was. I am so grateful for my dad and what he attempted to teach me while he was alive. I am so grateful for my dad and what he has succeeded in teaching me while watching over me from a much better vantage point.
People will say they are grateful for all the things that have happened to them, both good and bad, and I never understood that before. Now I do. I am so grateful for the path my life has taken. I am so grateful for my sisters and brother and my mom. I am so grateful when my normally dependable radio won’t work and will only tune into a bluegrass station, one I have never even heard of, and I am able to say to myself – “Hey, dad! I’m doing okay! I love you and miss you!”
I am so grateful for the love my father showed me. I am so grateful for the love my husband has for me. Both have loved me differently, but fiercely.
I am truly grateful for the path my life has taken – the path I CHOSE for my life to take. It has brought me here, now, with you. And I am able to be a good mother to you and teach you things that my dad tried to teach me. You might listen and be influenced, or you might tuck away those teachings, only to remember them when I am watching you from a much better vantage point. Either way, I will do my best by you, just like my father did his absolute best by me. And that’s worth being grateful for, every day.
I love you, my dear Elizabeth. I am so grateful you chose me as your mom. I promise to always do my best by you, to listen to you, and to teach you by example.
I am honored to be your mom.