Mother – My Greatest Teacher
My mother was my greatest teacher. On September 12, 2016, she would have been 71 years old. She was a complete stranger to me my entire life.
Mental illness is real. People endure unimaginable hardships. Lives are destroyed. I believe this is all a part of the journey, but it is difficult to watch someone you love struggle through situation after situation unable to recover and live to their fullest potential. Mental illness made it impossible for her to function effectively and the ripples cascaded from that point outward. It touched the lives of everyone she loved and most of those she encountered, at least to some degree. She wasn’t always intense and abusive, but many did not get to experience her loving nature. As I got older, that part of her slipped further and further away. I do remember that, at times, she had a great sense of humor and was, for the most part, a very intelligent woman.
At times, I re-experience thoughts about the life I wanted with her. I am faced with the reality that she had no connection with family for the last two decades of her life. Of all of her hardships, the most difficult to accept is her homelessness and unwillingness or inability to let others in. Again, another lesson for her soul and those of us who cared for and loved her. While we wanted more for mom, often times she did not want it for herself. Understandably, when one is in survival mode achieving things beyond safety, shelter, and food pale in comparison.
Change in Action
In any given situation action, or lack thereof is a choice. Sit staring at the proverbial door that has closed, in some cases slammed shut, or turn to the open window. Staring at the door keeps you trapped in the quagmire of emotions that impede growth and development. Stagnation and lack of progress occur for as long as you allow. When you sit staring at the door and hoping for something different, you generally lose hope. Staring at the door does many things. Ultimately, you miss the opportunity to acquire the overarching lesson.
Be the one who turns to see the open window. View the situation objectively, void of the emotional baggage you acquired along the way. Stand on the shore, leaving the emotions in the lake. Seek to learn. If everything truly happens for a reason, and I believe they do, and if things were meant to be different they would be. From this perspective, we are better able to allow things to be as they are and we become more present to discern the lessons offered us in every moment.
I did not know my mother past the age of 11, but I am thankful for the journey we shared and the many lessons we provided each other. Although I did not always feel this way, I am blessed to have experience all we did in such a short time. Admittedly, it took me years to resolve much of what transpired during our journey. I now know she loved me, even though she was often unable to show it. While her incarnation was one of torment for the human condition she inhabited, I believe my mother’s soul achieved more than humanly imaginable. I honor her physical journey and look forward to being wholly in that space with her when my time comes.