Teaching a little girl

Have you ever mourned someone who was still alive? You think of them, and wonder if they mourn you? The loss of you and the laughs you once shared, the flowers you brought? Do you wonder if in the quiet stillness of their heart they’re sorry and wished they could fix the shreds left of a friendship that was once good?

Could it be that you never really knew or understood what the word “relationship” meant? That you were taught something different. Something to be coveted and hidden away in secret. That something, being your heart and emotions. Do you think they knew that this teaching, this way of life that was impressed upon you as the way to survive and thrive in this life would backfire? That in retrospect, the “never let them see you cry” and the “never give anyone the satisfaction of knowing you’re hurt” would meander and dip into the recesses of your memory and trickle in moments of your heart? To be created this way, to be raised this way, where the island permits only one person, makes for a very lonely life. People are around you, yes. In a big city like New York, where people pass in droves like a blur and you keep your head straight to avoid eye contact. So many eyes. But still alone, no connections. This not knowing of relationship carries on and through everything, damaging like a forest fire through your soul, charring what would have been, could have been beautiful. Always, you hear “don’t show them, don’t let them”.

And I didn’t. For a long time I couldn’t. But she didn’t teach me how to stop.

Teaching a Little Girl @fillpraycloset Image by Agnieszka Rembacz from piccsy
Agnieszka Rembacz from piccsy

She didn’t tell me what would happen if I didn’t stop. That I would cut myself off from me. That I wouldn’t get close to myself, to know myself, to know my worth – out there. I was defenseless against toxicity. I collapsed before abuse and I came to feel…

Nothing. No matter how hard the hit.

I remained shut in, shut out and shut down within myself. It was so slow. Lurching until I was sealed in. But how to get out? How to break free? How to unlearn all the wrong? I argued with my husband and I didn’t even know why or what I was fighting for. I would hurl and spew anger, hatred, tests to see what would aggravate because holding on to my mother’s teachings were more important than marriage. More important than saving my own life. She made sure. The teachings were based on fear, control and denial, a very powerful and deep psychological cocktail for an innocent child to drink.

He stayed. He didn’t understand, but he loved. Me. In all of my broken-sealed-forest-fire-loneliness. And he said something that changed me. “Why don’t you just love her?” Such a simple question. Why don’t I just love that little girl who was taught all of those things. Love her to wellness. Love her to peace. Love her to happiness. Love her to death, like he would.

Like Lots’ wife, I looked back. Back to the functional dysfunction that I knew and held tight to like a teddy bear. It was all I knew. Like a visor always shading what I see. What would happen if I just loved? Where would my net be? What if I fell? Who would be there? Would anyone be there? She told me no one would ever be there. She told me he wouldn’t be there.

Now she’s not here because I won’t let her. And he is here, because he told me to love. Just love. There’s more fear in being loveless and more joy in loving. I’m not perfect – sometimes her ways and teachings haunt me and seep under my covers when I sleep. The realities I work so hard to forget manifest in dreams that leave me praying myself to consciousness. I wake with prayers on my lips and know that I am in the present. I am in the present with love and she has no power here anymore.

But still, I mourn what I wanted from her. What I should have had from her.

A mother that spelled love.



10 thoughts on “Teaching a little girl

  1. Holy cow. I need more time to process this post. Your words are so powerful that I feel like I’m in your skin with you. I’m so glad you stayed and fought for your marriage. And again, that awesome husband of yours. I don’t even have words.


  2. You parented yourself to what you are now, Cristina, and I only have deep admiration for you and your dear husband. God bless you always and richly.


  3. As I read this I was crying so hard it took me some time to read it to the end. I am this person, this is me. And I hurt. It has been 4 yrs since my cancer diagnosis. The first 3 I was just trying to stay alive. In the past year I have finally felt all the pain. I have 7 beautiful children and my faith has never been stronger, yet I am alone and have shut myself up inside. My marriage is marriage. No real, true, I am here for you love. That is how my mother has loved me. In order to protect myself from any more pain I have isolated myself from the world. And I hurt so badly. I mourn what I have lost and I have lost much.
    I am fighting this cancer daily. I will never be cancer free, due to the pathogen of cancer that invaded my stomach. I fight alone, all those I love deeply and who I thought loved me are gone. The length of this cancer is too much for them. My husband told me he wants me to be like I used to be. Basically he said I am getting sick of you being sick. Now My hurt has turned to anger against myself for not being what everyone wants me to be. I am starting a blog hoping to share and help other mothers/women who may be going through this. Thank you for writing this article, it has helped. Keep me in your prayers as I will keep you in mine. God Bless


  4. Just reading this, and as always powerful! I know it must have taken a lot of fortitude and courage to get where you are. As I have shared with you, in my own life, God has so clearly demonstrated to me that He always gives you what you need, even in times of great trial. He has blessed you with a husband who knows that unconditional love is the ultimate healer. Knowing what your husband’s love has done in your life is a little taste of the power of God’s unconditional love in our lives. When you return from your trip and the spirit moves you, I would love for you to write about the role of suffering and what our faith teaches us about it. I have a hunch that you would have something very good to offer on that topic and I bet it would help many…. just a thought:-)


    1. Of course Marcela. I am praying that this trip will give me the courage to see those places that I’ve hidden to protect my heart and share it.
      I love you, Sister.


  5. I know just what you mean, Cristina. You are brave to write about this – but it is your truth. My husband too set me on the path of healing. I’m always grateful to God for him and for Grace that let me heal. ♥


  6. Cristina – I’m not sure you got my earlier comment. I just had to tell you how much I admire you for stating your truth and to say I understand just what you mean!
    Thank God for our husbands and for grace that allowed us to heal! ♥


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