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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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