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A Sorry Letter To My Mom, Though She Passed Away A Long Time Ago

A Sorry Letter To My Mom, Though She Passed Away A Long Time Ago

I’m certainly not the first person to have had issues with her mother. By and large, moms are the recipients of blame for a litany of problems, from relationship woes to poor eating habits. Given the tight, visceral bond between mother and child—borne if nothing else than by virtue of having shared a body for nine months—a mother’s love is often blithely expected and taken for granted.

I should know: As lovely and solid as my relationship with my adult daughter might be now, her tween and teen years were defined by blaming me for nearly everything that was amiss in her young life. It took me years to understand that those slamming doors and dramatic tears weren’t directed at me. She needed a scapegoat and someone to take away her pain, much as she did as a child. And I, of course, was there, ready and willing to lend her an ear, a shoulder, a piece of my heart—and enough patience and equanimity to endure her hormonally-charged outbursts.

My own mother, unfortunately, was not. She was neither present nor patient, neither selfless nor compassionate. She was bold and brilliant enough to have had managed a booming company, but she could hardly fry an egg. My father took off when I was six-months-old and seemed to have forgotten that he’d fathered a child. In turn, my mother found solace and companionship in vast amounts of alcohol and drugs. And I, in turn, was raised by a mother who was often addled by intoxicants, and a string of relatives and strangers, frequently bouncing between three homes in the span of a single year.

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To say that it was a difficult, frustrating childhood would be the granddaddy of understatements. I don’t say this to elicit sympathy. I say this because it’s true—and because it undoubtedly shaped my fear of abandonment and several of my self-destructive tendencies. Like many—those who’ve had tough childhoods and those who have not—I blamed my mother for a high percentage of my problems when I was younger.

When I immigrated to the United States, I began seeing a therapist who helped me confront, unravel, and release the misery that was my childhood. I went through all of the stages of grief, in lapsed time. And throughout every phase, my mother was always the target of my reproach. Phone calls and accusatory letters to her were the norm, entire months without speaking to her at all the law. As she grew older and frailer, and as she attempted to narrow the enormous distance between us, I continued to withhold my love from her. I refused to recognize—especially to her—her efforts to make things right between us. If she tried to explain herself, I shut her down immediately. If she dared complain about her circumstances, I rebuked her. Considering that she abandoned me, my pain always took precedence.

It wasn’t until she was in the final stages of emphysema that something in me shifted. Here was this woman who’d once been a force of nature—the first woman in Florence to own a car—now reduced to a bag of bones, her head seemingly no larger than a walnut. Seeing her so diminished—so desperate and alone and in undeniable physical anguish—forced me out of my selfishness. To not forgive her would have been unforgivable. As she slowly—and then rapidly—died, I had to confront what I’d previously chosen to not face: The challenges she’d had by having me.

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Single, uneducated, and saddled with a child in a small, provincial, predominantly- Catholic town in Italy during the 50s, she was the target of malicious gossip and deemed an outcast for many reasons that were outside of her control. She was also what we know today as bipolar. Coupled with her addiction and her limited resources, hers was an existence of exceptional misfortune and pain. The more I attempted to see how unkind the world had been to her, the more I understood how valiantly she’d tried. She was raised during the war, left to care for her younger siblings while her mother worked and her father served as a soldier. Divorced with a child by nineteen, she was seen as unviable by most men. And completely lacking in emotional stability with no outlet or assistance, holding down a good job was close to impossible. Who would I have been had I been her shoes?

She died within months of her diagnosis—from that disease that doesn’t forgive or forget our mistakes—and when she passed, a part of me did too. What I have held onto is her indomitable spirit, and the letter I would have given her had I only been given more time.

Dear Mom:

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I’m writing this letter to you as you slip in and out of consciousness. The doctors here in Pavia keep telling me that your time is nearing its end. It infuriates me, the way they say this, because we all know that you have nine lives. Surely, then, this can’t be the end.

But in case it is, before you go, I want to tell you some things.

When I was ten, you told me to go have a beautiful life. At the time, I thought there was no other life beyond you. You were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. And, despite the ravages of time, the same is true today.

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I’ve had a beautiful life for you and because of you. I’ve learned to think fast, talk faster, and fight with all my might. I’ve had the audacity to forge my own path, often at the disapproval of my peers. I’ve learned that it’s not what you have, but what you give. I’ve learned that, given your circumstances, your history, and your pain, there was only so much you could give me. I wish I’d known now what I do today.

Which is this: While my love for you was at times conditional, yours was imperfect but always, always unconditional. I’m sorry for that, Mom. And I’m grateful that your affection was never provisional. That it was, in many ways, divine.

I have no doubt that I will see you in your tenth life.

I love you, and will forever.

Lauretta

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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