Monday, November 11, 2013
A few weeks ago I got a text message from my little brother asking me if I wanted to attend my mother's birthday party. Instinctively, I wanted to say no. Why would I go to a party for someone I haven't seen or spoken to in three years?? It didn't make sense on to me on the surface.
We had been watching the Iyanla marathon on OWN that day and the episode where Iyanla helps the two daughters heal their relationship with their mom tore me up inside. I was crying like crazy watching this episode because it hit so close to home. I never went hungry, like the daughters in the episode, but I did suffer emotional neglect and mental abuse from my mother for many years. It fueled my issues with self-esteem, anxiety and self-image. I'm still healing from all of it with God's grace.
EH and I have been growing by leaps and bounds in our faith so, instead of saying no, I decided to leave room for God to work. Every Sunday I had been silently asking God to work in this area during worship. It was never my ideal to not be in relationship with her but I also knew there was a real need to protect my own heart because being in relationship with my mother is not easy.
There is so much baggage between us; manipulation, deception, anger, bitterness, alcoholism and mental illness. There is so much that she's missed. So much that she never cared about when it came to my life.
When I told EH about the invitation he made it clear he was against it but he was willing to go for my sake. There's a part of me that, no matter what she's done, feels like I need to give it all I have in case this is God's way of bringing healing to the relationship. I can't decide if this is God working in my spirit or me reverting to that scared, people-pleasing person I struggle to let go of.
My stomach was in knots and my heart was racing as we walked to the lounge where the party was being held. The same way I used to feel when we lived under the same roof; anxious and scared, never knowing which "mother personality" I would get. When I arrived and saw her I knew absolutely nothing had changed. She was turning 49 but was dressed like someone at least 20 years younger and she was already intoxicated. She came over to EH and I exclaiming about what a surprise it was to see us even though she had invited us. I can't even put into words how disappointed I was. I surely wasn't expecting to rehash old wounds at a birthday party but I was expecting her to be genuine and respectful of the fact that we hadn't seen or spoken to each other in years.
To add insult to injury, I felt forced to nod and smile as her work friends came up to me to tell me how much they felt like they knew me because "your mother talks about you all the time," "she brags about you all the time. She's so proud of you!"
I was shocked and taken aback. It was then that I realized that my mother had created an imaginary world for herself where we had the perfect relationship and were regularly in contact. None of these people knew that she would regularly get drunk and text me violent messages or that we hadn't seen each other in three years. In fact the last message I received from her was a drunken, screaming, incoherent tirade where she called me names that are too awful to write here.
I felt a burning anger building in me because nothing had changed. A few minutes later she sat down with EH and I and directed her attention mainly to him. She only ever met my gaze briefly. I'd like to think it was because she felt ashamed of her behavior and couldn't face me. I looked at her surrounded by people who didn't really know who she was, who were using her and probably didn't care about her and I felt sympathy. They were attracted to the persona she had created for herself and I wondered if she even knew who she was apart from their gaze. She didn't know how to fix our relationship because, in her mind, we were fine.
Eventually, EH had had enough and told me he was ready to go. It wasn't our scene and nothing constructive was coming out of being there because she barely paid attention to us. We gathered our belongings and left. I felt a peace come over me then. She wasn't ready to deal honestly with our relationship and she might never be. I felt blessed and grateful. I may not have many people in my life but the ones that I do let in know who I am and they accept me as I am. I don't have to build imaginary worlds for myself to cover my brokenness. I freely admit my brokenness to anyone who'll listen and I seek healing and restoration regularly.
I got a message from my mother this morning thanking us for coming to her party. I responded with "you're welcome" and left it there. I may never know the fears that drive her to be the way she is. There's so much of my life that she's already missed and probably more that she'll miss in the future. I'm learning to accept that, no matter how hard I try, she may never heal from the demons that consume her. I'm praying for God to continue working on both our hearts, minds and spirits.