The Un-Christmas Letter
It is New Years Eve Day! Time to wash away the old and welcome in the new coming year….or so the sentiment goes. I am stuck this day, wondering how to face another year, when there continues to be severed relationships in our family. I am looking back at some of my old posts to jog memories of the peace and hope that has come through Finding 52, but I realize….I am still struggling to see my way through….still have lots of work ahead to stay sane….still processing a broken heart.
This Christmas marks the 7th year of estrangement from one son, who left our home at the tender age of 13. His birthday lands a few days before Christmas, making the holiday season a bit tricky to manage, emotionally. For 6 years, I was able to figure out how to give my son his birthday and Christmas presents, plus a replica of his over-sized stocking, packed with all his favorite treats. This year, I did not have an opportunity to bless him in this manner.
An attempt to substitute this gesture of giving toward a deserving charity, stopped the ache from growing for a while. But as I say good-bye to this year….this dynamic, exhilarating, wonderful, and challenging year….I ache deeply knowing my boy is out there….and I cannot reach him. I do not know where he lives….do not have a phone number….and do not have his social media accounts.
So, since I cannot communicate with him directly….and it is driving me crazy to do nothing….I will lay it all out here. I pray this cathartic process is enough to stop the tears and pain from gaining hold of my focus of setting amazing intentions for a New Year.
I am angry. So angry, that another year has ended and we are still so far apart. We spoke once this year….well, speaking is describing it generously. I listened while you blasted me with curses and blamed me for all the ails in your life. Yes, it is true. You got wounded from the life we lived in those short 13 years together. I cannot imagine how awful it was, experiencing it as a child.
I am sad. So sad to realize the many mistakes I make as your mother….mistakes that are not undone, ever. Mistakes that I have forgiven my younger self….and my current self….for doing the best I know how. I was so desperate to hear your voice, so taken aback by your phone call….so starved from lack of connection with you, that I allowed you to talk to me with disrespect, lies and foul language for almost 40 minutes. Shame on you for doing it, but I am more disappointed with myself for letting you go on, even though I understand why I did. God, I miss you!
I am frustrated. So frustrated to see how stuck we are….you and I. Trapped in our feelings of betrayal and dramatizing our hurts, we act out in ways to soothe our pain….but it does not go away. It remains….as real as the distance that holds us apart, a reminder that something, somewhere went wrong….so wrong.
I am worn out. So worn out from the blame you have assigned me. Ok. Sure. I am an easy target….especially since I fess up to my downfalls. But do you think you are the only one hurting? We all have stuff that hammers at us….from inside forces….from outside forces….and sometimes both, yet somehow there is a way to get past it….or it kills us and the people trying to love us.
I am disturbed. So disturbed by the memories of what it was like there….I lived that hell, too….protecting when I could and offering comfort when I could not. You have bragged about being the only one who stood up to him. Were you too young to see my bruises? Too ingested in your own suffering to comprehend we ALL had deepening emotional scars? I took physical and emotional hits for you….keeping things as calm as possible….not letting you rock the boat or stir up the kind of trouble that got you whipped. Uh-huh….whipped. Remember that? Remember the mother who begged for your innocence? Remember the mother who found the strength to leave and promised to never hit you again? That’s me! I was a terrible mom, but I wanted to be better, so I ripped our nasty lives apart to build something good….and didn’t know how. All I knew was how much I loved you and our lives needed to get right.
I am outraged. So outraged that you seem to forget a whole side of that past epic family failure. You focus instead on all my flailing attempts to find normal after beating the odds and staying gone….surviving. Your accusations include broken promises, dishonesty and something else that I have never understood….not giving you up to become a ward of the government. Talk about the upside-down! What kid, in the history of anything, ever held that grudge against their parent….not abandoning them? Like it or not….I am that mother who is always here for you….will always love you….will always pray and sends loving thoughts….sees you around every corner she turns….sees you on every street she crosses….dreams of your beautiful face….and is always waiting for you to appear. Always.
I am conflicted. So conflicted by your latest incitement against me….establishing a connection with your estranged daughter….a helpless babe, being raised by a young woman who….like all of us….battles with demons. Of course I want to connect to this amazing, innocent product of your soul. Of course I want to fill needs and bring comfort to her, if possible. Of course I want to look into her eyes and catch a glimpse of the young child I once knew. It is none of my business why you are estranged from her, but I think that negates your ability to decide who is healthy for her and who is not. My parenting strings have been cut with you for a very long time, unable to decide what is best for you since we are not connected. This is now your reality. Your parenting hands are tied, but you want to do the opposite of what you have been demanding from me for years….to butt out. You said I was not a healthy person for your daughter, but it is not true. Amidst your troubling thoughts….you know….I have done more good, than harm to you. Even after your threats of violence….property destruction….and the numerous times you told me to go love myself….the minute you came with a request for a positive business venture, what was my response?
I am optimistic. So optimistic about what the future will bring, believing we can always pick it up from here. NO questions asked. What else do you need? That is your mother. NOT perfect….NOT expecting perfection….and NEVER giving up. Do you hear me? I am never letting you go, Son….because I am a fighter, too. Who do you think taught you to fight. Him? It was me! You left before I knew enough to model when and why to fight. But I am ready now. I may cry my eyes out for hours….days….but those tears dry. I will continue to fight the darkness where murky un-truths of self loathing exist. I escaped torment to flourish….not to crater. So….if you are listening….I am going to continue to live in a way that generously pours into other people’s lives….including my grandchildren’s. All of them. It is not meant to hurt you….it is actually not about you at all. If you wish to live separate from a family that is Patient, Positive, Sensitive, Kind, Curious, Gracious, Grateful, Funny, Strong, Encouraging, Smart, Generous and Creative….well….choose that for yourself, and only yourself.
I am anxious. So anxious about what this next year will….or will not, hold….which leaves me only to wish:
That a fierce Love finds you.
That contagious Joy envelopes you.
That Forgiveness floods you with a mighty courage to stop feeding blame and anger.
That you find unwavering Peace with how you define family, even if it does not include me.