“When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough.” – Maurice Maeterlinck
When I came across the above quote I immediately thought about my mother and how true those words for I have lived them often since she died. I think that is a part of my life that holds the greatest influence on why I feel compelled to share aspects of my life – my thoughts and feelings – so publicly via blogging.
The memories of mom are very often encased in tears of the “if only I had said …” variety and what makes it so difficult for me is that it didn’t have to be that way. My feelings were hostage to stubbornness and, well, immaturity. Everything was about my feelings. After all, who was the parent here? The adult? I mean, I was the kid therefore that automatically emancipated me of all responsibility. Okay, so I was 31 when mom waged her final battle with the breast cancer but I was the kid in the relationship. And trust me, I acted like one whenever …well, if I let CJ finish that sentence she would say I acted like a kid whenever I opened my mouth. I will stand behind my sister on that dig, uh, comment – just don’t tell her what I have in my hand. (wink, wink)
It all boils down to being able to set ourselves aside when we are with those we love. Now, before you get all discombobulated let me clarify that I am not saying lose yourself in others – that’s another story altogether. It’s just that most problems in relationships stem from poor, misdirected or dishonest communication … our feelings become stuffed, overwrought, exaggerated, manipulated, and downright h-u-r-t. And we all know whenever that happens we tend to end up in our very own emotional bog. That is when we become so consumed with our own thoughts, feelings, wants, needs, etc. It makes everyone else’s life nothing more than a hazy mirror – we look at them but only see a reflection of our own issues.
Mom didn’t ask much from any of us during those last six months. She mostly wanted her four kids around her and we were happily there … we would pile on her bed and do all the talking, joking, laughing, and arguing while she just watched us with a contented half smile on her face. However, there were several times when alone with her that she would ask me a pointed question – one that set before me the possibility of our having a heart to heart. That is as long as I didn’t take the easy way out. I always took the easy way out.
Well, perhaps if I was completely honest with myself I would have to say I took the stubborn way out. And the passing years haven’t done anything to ease the regret that wells up in my heart any time I think about my mother. Because of the peculiarities of our relationship it was difficult for me to give mom whatever she may have been needing from me. I don’t want to make myself out to be some snotty little brat – though I am sure that is exactly what I acted like on many occasions … and it, now, is what taunts my heart while turning my memories into painful reminders of all that I missed out on.
I realize now it could have been so different – my memories much sweeter – if only I had set myself aside and, instead, validate whatever it was mom was saying, thinking or feeling. I also realize how complicated I made things because of the unsettled, unrequited feelings I carried with me at all times. The feelings were tied to my past, they were a part of my history that was unchangeable and, actually, relevant only to me at that particular time in life. It has only been the last few years that I have finally been able to see I have only been hurting myself, my relationships, by hanging on to negative, sad, angry emotions.
There isn’t anything I can do about certain regrets when thinking about my mother, well, other than force my mind to think about the good times and let go of what I cannot change. However, I can apply what I have learned in all this to the way I interact with my loved ones now. Whenever I feel any insecure, doubtful thoughts start to nudge my mind I quickly push them away before they can take root.
It’s interesting because I feel my relationships, my friendships have more depth yet, at the same time, there is a sense of ease, a comfortableness in them and all I can attribute it to is the lack of complicated emotions simmering in the background. I have no doubt that I will have times where I slip back into some of my old emotional habits, however, for the most part, I think I am on the right track in working through and weeding out old, heavy, dull, negative emotions. From now on the only time I want to have tears attached to any of my memories is when those tears are from laughing … and I’m off to a good start.