Okay, so I’ve been trying to write about Mother’s Day for about a week now and I’m not happy with any of it. It’s such a difficult holiday, I have a hard time staying out of a depressive state. Ugh. So I am going to try again to write about this without going into too many sad details.
The desire to be free of having this on my mind all the time is why I feel the need to express myself. I still haven’t fully accepted their loss. They are not dead, but they will not speak with me… and it still hurts, even after 35 years.
My desire is to be fully over it. Over them. Over religion. Over it all. Complaining about it isn’t what I want to do. But I feel I’m still sitting right in the middle of it. I still feel like a kid who is unsure about everything. I question my thinking often and consider how to start a relationship with them again. Every time I try, I’m cut down – full force back to reality. They do not want me as I am.
In 1987 I left home after a big argument with my folks. The problem was that I was questioning my faith, and didn’t want to go door to door preaching anymore. I didn’t want to tell people their beliefs were wrong when I wasn’t sure my own were correct. However, that was the one thing you have to do as a Jehovah’s Witness: be evangelical and go door to door. So, I got kicked out. It wasn’t that I was a problem teen, I just didn’t believe in my religion as strongly as my family to push it on others.
After a few years homeless and couch-surfing, I found myself pregnant and squatting in San Francisco. When I gave birth, it was enough for my family and congregation to fully disown me – having a baby out of wedlock. They call it Disfellowshipping. They shunned me completely.
Bio-Daddy wanted nothing to do with said baby, so I did the single-mom thing for a while. That period of time I was very lonely. Postpartum depression was making a big appearance, but didn’t know what it was back then. I ended up in a few terrible relationships because I just didn’t have any self esteem. Bad relationships led to bad decisions on my part that led to so much craziness – stories for another time. So, I found myself homeless again – living in a van with a toddler, while working as a waitress.
When my daughter was 5, I met my husband. He was always kind to me and supportive. We were friends for about a year before we really dated. He had just started printing t-shirts and posters, and the process was so intriguing. He taught me how to use a computer, and because he was working with different bands and record labels, I got to practice Adobe Illustrator skills to create show posters!
After a couple years he talked me into quitting my last serving job to work with him full time. In 2002 we formed an LLC and have been working together ever since. We stopped printing posters due to losing space after our last move… but we still print T-shirts. In 2004 we got married, and he adopted our daughter. We have a great life together.
This year we celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary – plus the 7 years we were together before that! The sad part is that he has never ever met any of my immediate family. His family is great, and they provide a sweet new perspective on family. Actually, I have done a great job creating a fantastic family of my own. Mother’s Day is when my daughter takes me out and we have a mommy/daughter day like when she was a kid. It’s really wonderful.
Even still, I get sad. As a mother myself, I just cannot fathom not speaking to my daughter. I really can’t. So I look at her and get a bit jealous of the relationship we have versus the relationship I have with my own mother. Makes me feel so twisted up inside.
Crown Chakra Quilt
I’ve started working on the Crown Chakra Quilt. It’s the last one in this series. I’m making these quilts as a form of self therapy. I think about, or meditate, on certain things to come to a clearer mind about them while sewing. Each quilt has had its own emotional direction. I think this particular quilt is dealing with the culmination of this problem with my parents. I need to meditate more on this because I’m obviously not ‘over it’ yet. Honestly, I don’t know if someone can ‘just get over it’.
So I’ll just continue to sew and mull it over. Happy that holiday has passed, but Father’s Day is just around the corner. I wonder how far along on this quilt I will be by then, and if I have any great epiphanies on how to deal with the emotional overflow of the last week.
No, you can’t just get over it. You do have to work through it though. Everyone works through their problems in their own way. I personally wouldn’t give up on God. My church accepts anyone, no matter where you are on life’s journey, or what your beliefs are, your past history, your marital status, your sexual identity, etc. I grew up in a very conservative church, but I have learned a lot of what I was taught is not what the Bible really says. I am sorry your parents have shunned you. When you are at the point where you can forgive your parents, you will be a lot freer. It may not be healthy for you to be in contact with them anyway. I am sure they have not changed their beliefs. I have a friend in a similar situation who has finally accepted her parents will never change and so she lives as though they are in essence dead. It has allowed her to move on in a positive way. I pray you will find your way forward as well.
Yep, it’s time for me to do the work! It takes a lot of it to work to forgive. I keep thinking I’m there, but there are always setbacks. Luckily I’m far enough away from it that it doesn’t totally wreck me when I get a little down about it. Thank you for your prayers – it does mean a lot!
Through. Gail you are a quilt maker, one who grows in understanding of the decision making process of a quilt from pattern & fabric choices, to batting, quilting and binding choices. You get the complexities of it, and because of this would encourage a new quilt maker, someone beginning to dip their toes into the vast depths of the ocean of the making of quilts. In and of this moment there is a grieving process that sometimes comes in waves on a stormy ocean, hard, intense and overwhelming. Sometimes it is as though this companion sits on our lap, demanding attention like a three year old not knowing fully how to process their emotions and like the stormy ocean we have to wait with said little person giving words to their frustrations, teaching them how to process this intensity, use better words, and breathe. There are people in many faith traditions that go through a necessary process of questioning everything and take one of any number of paths from staying in that faith to leaving a life of lived out faith altogether and there are so many unique variations in that. This grief then is further mixed with anger and hurt, and it is in one sense all one messy, spilled milk kind of experience.While it is understandable, sprinkle in some envy of your daughters relationship with you there is a new part of this journey to work through.
While you are unable to imagine not having a relationship with your own daughter it is a direct result of not having a relationship with your parents. Particularly since this lack of relationship was neither something you desired, nor wanted, it was foist upon you. The results of this action on your parents part are difficult, however you are in a stable, loving, long term relationship that you have worked hard to maintain and work together to build your business but raise your daughter.
One of the things that as a grieving child you get to work through – and this is the most challenging part – is that they will not have the privilege of being proud of you and telling you that you’re doing a good job raising their grandchild. They do not have the privilege of being involved with your child’s life. Gail you are worth every single moment of working through this terrible loss. Your relationship with your girl is worth every moment of walking through to the other side of this pain to a level of acceptance that will Free you from the burdensome weight being carried on your shoulders. This weight is not yours to carry, it is theirs. And while you can not physically give it to them, you can figuratively give it back to them, place the responsibility back on their shoulders. THEY made terrible decisions that put your life at risk and in harm’s way. THEY chose to abandon their child, putting you at risk and in harms way. THEY chose to abdicate their responsibilities as parents and plop it right on your lap. All these years you’ve been trying to self-soothe in an impossible situation for decisions that were made that are neither in your best interests, nor are they a healthy loving part of any faith tradition (though people make really stupid/asinine/hurtful/damaging decisions).
What is the best step forward? I don’t even know. What I do know is that YOU are worth taking that step, working THROUGH the Grief, Anger, Hurt, Abandonment, and forgiving yourself for being young and making some decisions that were all about survival rather than living. You are WORTH working through all of this to let go of the envy to move to simply enjoying the gift of your husband and your girl. YOU ARE WORTHY of more Gail. You are worthy of letting the burden that is NOT yours go.
Oh Teri, thank you for these words. One of my mantras has been: I am worthy, so this hits all the feels for me. It’s hard to write about, yet feels so good to let it out. I appreciate your thoughts so much!
You’re welcome. This is part of the hard work of healing, and blossoming. You are Worthy.