As I am sure you may have realized, “living a beautiful life in the midst of chronic pain and illness” does not mean all days will be pretty. Although today was quite beautiful outdoors, my insides experienced something much different. Truthfully, the bulk of the day was good, and I felt blessed throughout, but this evening I had the unfortunate experience of dealing with what is quite possibly the most complicated relationship in my life at this time.
This relationship is the one between myself and my mother. For a variety of reasons, it is one of those relationships that can bring out the worst in me, exposing all of my flaws in an instant, like the burst of a firecracker that lies tattered and torn open from the inside out after the explosion.
I am going to lay it all on the line here. There is no hiding behind my words. What am I if I can not be honest about who I am, right now, in the process, on this journey of becoming more whole? I am nothing, if I am not truthful. And the truth is that I have a lot of self-improvement to do. I do not have it all worked out. I do not act perfect in all stressful moments, my reactions can be raw and childish at times. Tonight was one of those times. Not only was my reaction poor, but the reality of how my choices affect my health was exposed as well, under a great big enormous magnifying glass.
My mother was the one who so graciously brought out the magnifying glass, not exactly an act of love as I see it. But perspective is often quite important. She approached me at an unexpected time regarding an unexpected topic. . . Fibromyalgia.
Well, it seems that my mother has attended a support group/information meeting on Fibromyalgia recently. In her words, it was in an effort to understand my situation better and to be better equiped to be supportive. I am sure that the intentions are good and that quite possibly that is truly what she desired to achieve. Unfortunately, because of our past that we have shared together, I have a very difficult time accepting advice from her. It is a weak spot for me, a place where pride easily gets in the way of humility. It was oh, so obvious that I do not respond well to her, as she began to share with me what she learned at the meeting she recently attended.
After a time of listening, a time of failed communication, and a period of increased frustration with the demands she seemed to be making of me, I found myself experiencing a feeling inside that I could not control. The last thing I heard her say was a quote from the speaker she had listened to. This man had said that “those who did not choose to make the changes that he was recommending deserved to be in pain”. The words came out of my mouth almost as quickly as the anger had risen in my chest. When I said, “I hate you”, it was more or less a statement of “I blame you” than anything else.
I had never before considered the fact that I blamed a single person for my illness. But at this moment, as sure as the sky is blue, it is obvious that I do. I blame her. The same person who gave me life is the same person that a part of me believes is killing me.
I know it is absurd. In my right mind, if I truly have one, I know that my mother would not actually try to kill me. But yet, as the words were coming out of her mouth tonight, all I could think was, “this is all too horribly ironic.” Ironic that she, the one who taught me addiction, the one who has shown me dysfunction at its finest, the same one who values a delectable dessert over a healthy meal, and the same person who has taught me that a drink, be it coffee or Kahlua, could make everything all better. . . she was giving me this speech?
It was a one man intervention so to speak. An attack on my every habit, my every choice in life, it was an attack on my process of healing. She sat there, seemingly judging me from the little chair at the kitchen table, as if she had never had a battle of her own to fight.
Her words explaining that she was desperate to help and that she spoke these words from a place of love, could only produce in me that horrible and sinful response . . . “I hate you.”
When one is faced with the challenge of restructuring their entire life, their entire way of life, I believe it warrants a measure of grace. Grace allows for time. Grace allows for error. Grace allows for the individual to go through their own process, their own journey towards whole health.
My mother’s love seems to have no grace for me. Her desire to control and fix me smothers out the grace, leaving her with empty words and an air of judgment. Tonight my anger, fueled by sadness, shot out of me with brute force as the little girl inside was seeking grace; and she found none.
As my mother’s surprise attack was launched, a bridge was burned simultaneously between her world and mine. The pit between our worlds is a fathom, a black hole, that wants to pull me in and hold me, until I can no longer breath.
I will not allow my breath to be taken away from me. I will stand transparently before you, not feeling very pretty.
But, the beautiful part of life is this . . . with Christ’s love in me, I will again be able to choose love for my mother. I will seek forgiveness for my harsh and unkind words. I will accept that her love for me is shown in ways that are not always comfortable. I will learn to set boundaries in our relationship that have been much needed for a long, long time. I will wake tomorrow to a new day and I will rest in the grace and mercy that is always there for me. . . God’s grace.