As I passed a doorway, I glanced inside. I caught a reflection in a mirror framed by the door and saw my mother’s face. I saw her eyes, the arch of her brow, the slope of her nose, the strong and determined chin.
I saw a strength radiating from the reflection that I had never noticed before. A set to the shoulders, a sense of self-pride that comes only from embracing hard truths.
On closer inspection, I realized that the woman staring back from the mirror was me.
The resemblance of the women in my family is striking. I can’t look in the mirror without seeing my mother, my grandmother, my daughter. As I grow older, it seems the comparison is only growing stronger.
Since the death of my mother last summer, I’ve learned, and come to accept some very hard truths, about our relationship, about her as a mother, and her as a person. Seeing her face every time I look in the mirror hasn’t been easy. It’s led to a lot of me trying not to look.
Finding out that someone you loved and respected wasn’t who you tried to believe they were is hard. Finding out after they are gone and unable to explain or defend themselves is even harder.
My relationship with my mother was troubled, but in spite of that, I loved her and craved her approval and love more than my next breath. I believed her to be perfection personified. Not that I believed she’d never made a mistake, but the grace and ease she seemed to move through life with left me in awe and with a desire to be like her.
In truth, my similarities to my mother end with what I see in the mirror. This used to upset me, but with the lessons I learned right after she passed, I’ve found that she wasn’t quite the role-model I believed her to be.
Learning that a parent is, indeed, nothing more than human, can be devestating, and it was for me. I spent the first few months grieving more for my lost image of her than for her as my mother. Reality can be a relentless companion.
As I look into the mirror now, I no longer see the woman that failed at everything, that was weak and never did anything right. I no longer see shame in my eyes for the times I disappointed her.
Now, I can stand tall when I catch my reflection. Shoulders back and head held high, knowing that I have not lived a perfect life, but I have lived. I have made mistakes, but I have learned. I’ve had my heart broken, but I have known love.
For all my imperfections and short-comings, I have a beautiful daughter that I love with all my heart, the love and devotion of a good man and a handful of wonderful friends that I can always count on when I need someone.
I no longer live my life by the measure of a woman that hid her impefections while expecting those in her life to live up to unrealistic standards. I have begun to set my own standards for my life. I have learned that expecting the people in my life to perform to my expectations will leave me sad and alone, a fate I am determined not to share with my mother.
I have come to realize that her expectations of me were unrealistic and that if she could have seen past them, she could have really known me as a person and been able to see that I am a good person, with a kind heart. She could have seen how much her love and acceptance would have meant to me.
I will not continue to make these same mistakes with Mini-Me. In my eyes, as well as my heart, she will find the acceptance she seeks. I will know the person she is and not be blinded by my own wishes for her. I will accept her for the beautiful individual that she is and support her in her decisions in life, even the ones I don’t agree with. I will give her what my own mother never gave me, a place of love in my life where she never feels inadequate or unworthy of my love.
I don’t want it to take her loosing me for her to find her self-worth. I want to be part of watching her blossom into the outstanding woman I know she can be.
When I am gone, I want her to see my face in her own and for it to bring her pride and joy. I don’t want her to search eyes so like my own for an acceptance she should have found in mine.
As I finally begin to heal and move past the loss of my mother, I can’t help but wonder if she left this world with peace in her heart. Did she realize, too late, the things she missed out on? Was she satisfied, in her own heart, with the life she lived?
I will never have the answers to those questions. I will always wonder, and I can’t change that. What I can change is leaving those questions in my own child’s heart when I’m gone. I can live my life in such a way that she will always know where my heart is and that I have found peace in my life. I can teach her by example, to live a life filled with the joy of living and the love of those that matter.
I’ve been mostly quiet this week, with the exception of my post about trying to heal some of the hurt surrounding my Mom’s passing. I haven’t been laying around all depressed and stewing in my emotional goo, like I thought I would be though.
The reason I’ve been quiet this week is because while I have been dealing with some pretty emotioal issues, I’ve also been doing something I haven’t done in years. Having a damn life of my own and taking care of shit.
I attempted to reach out to a few people this week that are always claiming to have my back but disappear whenever I actually need someone. (Call it what you will, but far be it for me to give up on someone without giving them opportunities.) Unfortunately, the result was the same either way and their name got a little
strike-through in my heart and their name also got deleted from my text list and call logs. Call it childish, but I didn’t want, or need, to constantly see their names everytime I pull my phone out.
I gave myself a little time to absorb the gravity of what I was doing and then I saw a quote on FB. It said:
“When life knocks you down, get up, smile politely and say ‘You hit like a bitch.'” – Author Unknown (and I can’t remember now who it even was that posted it.)
So, that’s what I did.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it didn’t hurt. It did. Still does, to be honest, but these choices were not my fault. I’m simply choosing to have some respect for myself and refusing to be used, refusing to crawl or beg anymore.
I have enough of my own shit to deal with without wasting my valuable time on people and things that do not bring me happiness.
So, after dusting myself off, I got on with my life.
I’ve spent some time talking to one of my sisters of the heart this week, the fabulous @PonderingMama, and gotten some much needed encouragement and support.
I also spent some time talking to a woman that’s very much like a mother to me, receiving some counsel on the situation with my family.
I’ve cooked, cleaned and cared for my family, spent time reconnecting with Draco (which has been beyond awesome, by the way) and played with my fur-baby.
I talked to both my girls this week and had the first positive conversation with Mini-Me that I can remember in a long time.
I’ve been working (sort of) for my landlady, doggie and house-sitting while she makes the holiday rounds with her family.
I even baked a cake. I can’t remember when the last time I did that was.
I’ve made some other decisions, too.
I broke down and finished the process of applying for help with groceries. The week before Thanksgiving was rough, and it scared me. The two weeks since haven’t been as bad, but I know winter is coming and hours could get short unexpectedly with Draco’s job.
Draco and I talked (again) about me working but after my complete anxiety attack while standing in line in the SNAP office, even I had to admit that there’s no way I can hold a regular job anymore.
So, I got the ball rolling for help. I’m (kinda) working for my landlady. I’m going to go get my leather stuff from storage, and I’m going to write my ass off in the hopes of maybe making some money writing from home someday, and I’m going to shuffle, juggle and budget my ass off in the meantime.
This has been my “Sunday Dump”. What do you you need to dump this weekend?