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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 July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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