I woke up early this morning watching the warm shades of red and orange fill the sky over the horizon from my bed. The view never gets old for me. Each sunrise boasts of possibility, of hope and promise of another opportunity to embrace the adventure of this life, never quite knowing what is coming next.
I have always been a lover of the early morning. I feel like no matter what happened yesterday, I have the chance to start over today. It’s my choice of what I want to do with it.
Today was feeling especially auspicious and once I noticed the date, I knew why. It’s my mother’s birthday. This day has come and gone 27 times since the day she took her life. It slips in right in the middle of the holiday season and nudges me to reflect. For 27 years, I’ve felt waves of sadness and remorse, anger and regret, riding on top of a guilty sense of relief underneath.
Occasionally, I’d lightly share this remembrance with someone, but for the most part, I kept the memory just out of reach of my heart and my mind….never quite knowing what to do with it.
In 19 days, it will be the anniversary of her death, and then five days later, my own birthday. A day I’ve struggled with since her exit from this world.
This past birthday was especially challenging for me. I woke up angry. I mean I was really angry. I had taken the day off and was setting out for an adventure and instead of feeling gratitude, I just felt enraged…at my mother.
Once I realized I was mad at her, I became mad at myself. Why was I feeling all this anger so many years later? I felt like I had hashed out and released all my pent up emotional junk. How could there be any left? And why now? I didn’t understand and that just made me judge myself even more harshly.
But man, I was ticked. I sat in my bathroom and cried, yelling at her, asking what kind of mother takes her life and leaves her child only days before their birthday. How could she have been so selfish, so insensitive? How could I not have been important enough? Old feelings of not being good enough flooded me. I sat in a puddle of my own misery. The hurt little girl who just wanted to be loved was fully exposed.
A few hours later I bounced back. I always bounce. My rational brain took over and put all of my feelings in perspective, but I was still emotionally sore from being stretched so far. I knew why this year was different. This was the year I would outlive my mother. She died when she was 41 years and 19 days old, and I had just turned 41. In my rage, I was going to be damned if I was not going to continue to make it my ongoing goal to live my life as fully as possible. Happiness was mine to have. I earned it and I was determined to keep accessing it in myself.
As it winds down, I can see that 41 has proven to be one of the most transformative of my life. I’ve spent more time digging into the deep parts of myself to uncover my long held patterns of resistance, self-sabotage and feelings of lack. I’ve re-evaluated all of my relationships and assessed how I interact, how I invest emotionally…or not, and how I run in fear when my heart feels remotely threatened.
About two months ago, an opportunity developed for me to look at myself when the threat of loss once again stared me down questioning what I was going to do about it. I dove down again, identifying deep seated patterns in myself, dating back to early life with my mother. I saw my fears, my resistance, and how my unconditional love for my mother turned conditional when I sensed her time here was short.
I saw how I pulled away and shut down and left her feeling unclear how I felt about her when she died. I felt my old guilt slam into me, devastated by the loss. I saw all the reasons why I held on to the anger, to protect me from getting hurt again. I let it come up and pour out of me, overflowing waves of sorrow and regret. And then…I saw it all for what it was and forgave my mother for not being what I wanted her to be and for myself wanting to protect myself. She was, and I was, in fact, human.
And that feeling, letting go of the anger and guilt, was the freedom I’d been craving for a very long time. For the first time, since my mother’s death, I felt my mother’s energy in a very different way. It was light and flowing and a soft pink. I felt her embrace me as I let her in. She wanted to support me and I let her.
I could go on and on and explain how our early relationships with our parents and caregivers impacts every other relationship in our lives. Any dysfunction that exists begin the patterns that last until something proves important enough to stop us and realize we don’t want to repeat them. And it’s not until we change ourselves while also accepting ourselves that our lives and our experiences will change accordingly.
These revelations are a culmination of the work I’ve spent rebuilding my relationship with myself. Getting to know the real me. The scarred parts that continue to heal and the eternal optimist who has made peace with her internal masochist. The one who is always striving to be the best and most authentic version of herself.
She is real and she is spectacular.
(Seinfeld anyone? I simply cannot help it)
So today, I am celebrating the new relationship I have with my mother, as well as myself. The birthday of new beginnings, the dawn of opportunity, the celebration of all things learned that brought me into this fascinating existence that is my life.
Happy Birthday Mom! Thanks for getting me here. I Love You.