comparison: the quality of being similar or equivalent
A complete stranger completely took the wind out of my sails last night. One comment that he will never remember he made, that he would certainly not know sucker-punched the living daylights out of me, and I’m scrambling to regroup.
I’ve shared some of my past. I’ve given you some snapshots into my family life growing up.
But for two huge reasons, I have kept and will continue to keep a lot out of the public’s view.
One, my family had made quite a name for itself in our area, especially the church community. It seems most people know me the minute they hear my maiden name. The reports I hear from those folks are glowing. They saw something that my sister and I did not. During all of the controversy surrounding the death of my parents, there were a lot of ugly words going around about me and about my husband and we have chosen to not even play in that game. Most folks just didn’t know and didn’t really care to see what was really happening.
Two, my past is not my present, nor is it my future so I try not to linger there.
But occasionally, it catches up with me.
So, when I do speak about it, it’s because I’m needing to be real. Not to slander. Ever.
With that said, I will tell you a little about my mother.
I believe she was a deeply sad person. I have tried through many avenues to figure out when that started for her. I’m pretty sure she was a very little girl when she felt she needed to take on the world, fists raised. Because I knew her as very angry.
Most people saw a smile. I did not.
My mother never made an effort to show me love. Not even when I was a tiny girl. We never bonded as most mothers and daughters do. Oddly, I never really saw her bond with anyone. People thought they were close with her, but there was a huge disconnect between who she was when she stepped out the door and who she was at home.
She became a mastermind at maintaining her image.
It’s next to impossible to maintain a relationship that has no foundation. You can do “the thing” all day long, but in the end, when push comes to shove, relationships need depth and heart. They simply do not exist when they are built on a smokescreen.
I’m going to be brutally honest right now. Perhaps more transparent than I ever have let myself be in these public words.
I struggle daily to forgive my mother.
It makes me cry because I feel so flawed to even say that.
But, the heart of the issue is that I cannot understand a woman who could not love her little girl. No matter what happened, no matter what damaged her, I was her little, tiny girl and I was worth loving. There was no love shown in our home. You may not believe that statement, but it was true. A roof was over our heads and there was food on the table, so I suppose to some degree you could call that love.
It took me years to allow myself to see the disparity between what I knew and what love looks like.
And, no matter how hard I’ve tried to reason out some excuses for that, I can’t find them. No one’s past can excuse how my sister and I were raised. because I now know it’s possible to change the patterns we knew.
With the help of God, I did.
So, every day I forgive her for pretending to love me.
But some days that truth hurts more than others.
This is such a hot button with most women because most women have mothers who hugged them and whispered love in their ears, wiped their tears, sat with them when they were sick, and reveled in their children’s successes. Very few women can relate to what it feels like to have a mother/daughter relationship as nonexistent as mine was, so very few can understand my story. But it’s so vitally important to realize that not all mothers behave the way we think they should. Mothering is not always instinctive.
Some of us were left on our own when we needed our mothers most.
I reintroduced myself one day to someone I had barely known as a teenager when we saw each other at the store a couple years ago. She asked (like so many do) about my parents. SUCH a tricky question. I have various answers depending on what I think folks want/need to hear.
I told her my mother had died and a tiny bit of the story behind it. She proceeded to tell me her story. As a woman with about six decades of experience under her belt, she finally told her own mother that she felt like their relationship would end up killing one of them if it continued to be as unhealthy as it was.
This woman is a beautiful mother of several children with a precious heart who had to separate from a toxic relationship with her mother. And her skin has become thick because of that decision.
I am still recovering from the shock of finally having someone to relate with.
I decided as a barely eighteen year old mother that I would do everything the opposite of my mom. I lavished love and praise on my husband (that was easy and natural to do). I snuggled and kissed my babies and poured every single ounce of my heart and soul into them (which turned out to be the most natural thing in the world). I have made a lot of mistakes, but my family can never deny how much I have loved them.
All through my childhood a phrase was spoken in our home that I learned never to repeat. It was used in moment of anger and sometimes just to wound. “You’re just like you’re mother.” Or father. Whichever suited them and would hurt the most. Every time I heard it, my own heart silently screamed, “NO! I’m not!! See me for me. See me at all.”
No two people are the same. No one really likes to be compared. We long to be recognized for our uniqueness–our very own individualtiy.
Last night when the man said I look exactly like my mom, I could have thrown up. There is nothing I want less than that association after all these years of trying so hard to be the opposite.
The irony of it all was I had had the best day. I was out with a woman who has become like a mother to me, my best friend and her mother and my daughter. It was a mother/daughter girls’ night and we were laughing and singing and having a ball. And here he came with his words and knocked me flat.
My fourteen year old wise, wise daughter said to me, “Mom. The enemy knew what a great day you had with your real mom, and he just tried to upset you.”
She is amazing and so right.
We get going, pedaling uphill through life and sometimes each push on the pedal feels like torture. We get some momentum and coast a ways and then hit a rock and, BOOM, flat tire.
But, I’m going to do my best to shake that flat tire off and get back on my bike.
The view from the good places is spectacular, and well worth the climb. The enemy might like to distract me from the amazing things God is doing in me, but I know the sound of his mean, ugly voice and I quit listening to it a loong time ago.
How? It’s a choice. To keep the truth about how loved I am always in the front of my mind. To ignore the comparisons I have always heard and find my identity in who I’ve learned I am outside of any other person. To think about others that are hurting before myself and be willing to be used–even it’s just telling my story so maybe someone else can relate and not feel so alone.
To remember to rush into love with total abandon no matter the risk.
Loving, for real is worth it every time.
Also read; A quick follow up to Sticks and Stones here.