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.
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.