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Monday, May 31, 2010

Compassion and Acceptance

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My last post on Raised by Rabid Wolves was May 5th, six days before my mother died. In the aftermath of her passing, I have been grieving with all my heart and soul. I grieved for losing her presence in my life, and I had a renewed sense of grief for the horrors I suffered at her hands. The pain was almost beyond words.

I know that the grieving process will probably resemble a roller coaster ride - ups and downs, and never knowing what's around the next turn. Still, I've gotten to a place where I accept Mom's death. I am grateful that she is no longer in agonizing pain. Despite her words and deeds, I wouldn't wish that kind of suffering on her, nor anyone else for that matter.

My mother's last request was that I ~not~ come see her - she literally begged me not to come. For a time, I was caught up in feelings of rejection and abandonment. But ultimately, I honored my mother's wishes.

Through the kind actions of a nurse at the hospital where mom lay dying, I was able to speak to her mere hours before her death. The nurse held the phone up to my mother's ear...  I told Mom that I loved her, that I forgave her, and I understood if it was her time to go.  The nurse reported that Mom reacted - she briefly opened her eyes, and her eyebrows went up.  I could hear Mom making sounds; she was no longer capable of speech.

I am grateful that I was able to speak and act with compassion and acceptance regarding my mother's death. Some of my friends wonder how I could possibly forgive my mom and offer compassion, after all she said and did. I feel strongly that acting with compassion is a big part of "walking my talk." And compassion sends ripples into the cosmos, bouncing back to you in infinitely varied ways.

The acceptance part was admittedly harder. The selfish part of me wanted her to stay here, so I could have some more time with her, and so I could get answers to questions she'd been dodging for years. The better part of me, the wellspring of compassion within me, accepted that it was Mom's time to go.

Acceptance following her death has been up and down, but it's beginning to even out. I cannot change the fact that Mom ignored years of symptoms that led her to Peritoneal Cancer, Stage IV. I cannot change who my mother was, her abundant fear. I cannot change the fact that I'll never get the answers I wanted - I'll make do with the information I ~do~ have.

It has been said that lack of Acceptance is the root of human suffering. As the saying goes, "It is what it is." When we accept circumstances, and we stop insisting that things be different right NOW, we begin the journey toward healing. Acceptance does not mean condoning behavior or actions, nor does it mean refusing to work constructively for change.

I am learning anew the power of Compassion and Acceptance. If I can maintain a sense of both, at least most of the time, my journey is much easier. Resistance makes the ride rougher, like flying through turbulence on a plane. I am letting go as much as I'm able.

Perhaps there's a situation in your life that would benefit from an infusion of Compassion and Acceptance. What would it look like if you accepted things as they are at this moment, and move forward compassionately from that point? I beg you to consider acting with compassion towards yourself, because it ripples outward in your actions toward others. Besides, everyone deserves compassion - and that includes you.

_/|\_ Namasté

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Forgiveness and Role-Reversal

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WARNING: This blog is written by an adult survivor of severe childhood abuse. While specific graphic details are not offered, it is entirely possible that this material may be uncomfortable for some readers. If you have any doubt as to whether this may “trigger” you or make you feel unsafe in any way, please STOP reading and click elsewhere. If, while reading this or at any other time, you find yourself feeling unsafe or contemplating hurting yourself, please IMMEDIATELY contact a crisis line or mental health professional. Please – be safe, and be well.

If you or anyone you know is having a crisis and feeling alone or potentially unsafe, please consider using one of these resources. You'll notice there are organizations around the globe, including LGBT-targeted groups like PFLAG, and groups for survivors of different kinds of violence. Here's a link to a list of resources. Please know that I care, and many people in your life care. It's a sign of true strength to reach out if you're hurting; people want to offer their support. You are NOT alone. ================================================

As I write this, my mother remains in the hospital, still in the ICU. She's been hospitalized for six or seven weeks; home once, for less than 48 hours before having to go back to the hospital. Mom's partner is a good person, and she shares with me all she can - or as much as Mom will allow her to. The reality of this situation is that I will probably never know just how complex or dire the situation is, because my mother believes in the power of Denial.

Additionally, Mom rebuffed my efforts to come see her, with my raising funds for airfare by selling some of my belongings, and accepting "love offering" donations via THIS link. She says my coming to see her would be a waste of money. I cannot describe how painful it was for her to say that. It took all my self-control not to counter with, "What, and it WON'T be a waste of money to come to your funeral?"

All of these current challenges with Mom bring to mind the struggle I went through in my 30s, when I realized that I carried an enormous burden of rage at my mother. It wasn't hurting her - it was hurting me. It took years of work, but I was finally able to lay that burden down. It' not that I condone what she did (or didn't do), but I was done being consumed by white-hot rage. As the years pass, I've come to see my mother as a frightened woman, with a childhood filled with loneliness and outright abuse. She's never talked about the abuse per se, but I've finally been able to read the subtext and see the deeper meaning in comments she's made about her own childhood.

It's a balancing act, accepting Mom for who and what she is, but not excusing her actions as inevitable outcomes of what she endured as a child. I survived horrors on a scale incomprehensible to most people, and I worked very hard as a parent to ensure my children knew they were loved, and to protect them from harm. Unlike my own mother, I made sure my children understood that I made mistakes just like every other person on the planet, and that I would admit when I was wrong. This is diametrically opposed to my mother's parenting stance - she insisted that she was beyond all questioning, and that she never made mistakes.

As a child, I was never granted compassion or unconditional love from my mother. When in doubt, she figured a good beating would straighten me out, even if I had done nothing wrong. She hated everything I represented - innocence, creativity, and the lost promise of her own youth.

Now, as an adult with two grown children of my own, I experience a poignant sadness, and an aching sense of frustration. In a twist of irony, I am able to grant her what she could never give me as a child: unconditional love and compassion. I will always love my mother; she gave birth to me, and did the best she could with what limited resources she had. If she had known better, no doubt she would have done better as a parent.

Still, being rejected yet again, being told that it's not worthwhile for me to come to see her, even though she seems to be at the edge of her own mortality - it hurts. I'm working anew on forgiveness, letting go and allowing Mom to do what she feels is right for herself. Perhaps she doesn't want me to see her this vulnerable, or doesn't want my last memory of her to be this painful. I can never know the rationale behind her current decision-making.

I've received $45 in donations - which, while not enough for a ticket to Texas, is enough for a nice gift and card to send for Mother's Day. My own therapist and I have been looking at my mother's current and past behavior, and we believe Mom may be dissociative. She certainly seems to have children or child-like alters - a theory that Mom's partner has quietly endorsed. So, I'm headed off later today to hit Hallmark to get a nice, soft stuffed animal and a lovely card, and then send it via Priority Mail to get it to Texas by Mother's Day.

A heartfelt thanks to those who donated! After a recent $500 rent increase, my discretionary spending pool is virtually nonexistent. All the more reason for me to keep working on my writing. I believe the content of my work is compelling, and a story unlike any other. Let's hope there's a publisher (or at least a literary agent) who agrees.