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Grieving a Complicated Relationship

I am a little less than a month out from the passing of my biological mom. I am writing this to help with my own processing and if I can help someone along the way who needs these words (which are usually not spoken out loud) or validation - then this will not have been written in vain.

It will be helpful to know that I only lived with my mom for 5 years of my life. From birth to 4 and then from 13 to 14. The rest of that time I only saw her in short bursts. A friend of my mom's sent me this picture shortly after she passed. When I first saw it - I burst into maniacal laughter (which was so like something my mom would do) - it reminded me of a scene in Sweet Home Alabama - "You have a baby - in a bar" only this would read "You have a baby - and a beer". This picture speaks a thousand words. And reinforces an old story I told myself for decades. 

The old story I told myself was that she chose drugs, alcohol, and men over me. I told that story on repeat up until 2 years ago - when my body, mind, and spirit were ready to release the truth: that I was in danger with my mom. A specific event happened and my mom realized this and in a moment of intense strength and clarity she left me with my dad.

Although understanding this part of the story ushered in deep forgiveness and empathy it didn’t completely erase what that much separation can do to your psyche. The other part of this story is that I traded one chaotic home for another. I was raised by a very strict step mother who was the exact opposite of my biological mother. That is another story for another day but I mention it because with the passing of my biological mother I am finding that I am also grieving the other mother I got and how I grew up. I wasn't expecting that. 

I’m finding that I am grieving the past more than the future. This has made me realize the difference between grieving a loved one you are close to and one you are estranged from. From what I have observed my friends and family who are grieving those they were close to grieve the present and future events - like how much they miss their loved one on a holiday or how sad it’s going to be to have this loved one miss the future milestone events in their lives. Because my mom missed so many milestones this is a non-issue for me. And that feels strange and heartless to say outloud - but that is the truth.

The outpouring of love my tribe has given me has me so grateful - however - I have had an occasional friend who didn’t know my history with my mom say something completely appropriate like “I can’t imagine losing a parent” which ushers in waves of shame and confusion because I feel like my relationship with my mom was never found - so I can’t grieve the loss like a “normal” person. In fact - there is nothing “normal” about my dynamic with my mom or our relationship so this process has been anything but "normal" and I’m grieving what I imagine a "normal" grief cycle looks like (while also knowing that grief is a complete cluster and cannot be clearly defined - so then I feel like a cluster - and is "normal" even a thing? LOL).

I can’t believe I am saying this out loud but I am experiencing more relief than loss. That is a shitty thing to say and a shitty thing to sit with - but it is my truth. My mom has struggled her whole life. I’m relieved that her struggle is over. I’m relieved that I don’t have to wrestle with the pressure and resistance of this strained relationship. I’m relieved that there won’t be additional shame to address - because there is more than enough to work through from the past 40 years.

I have been up and down and all around in this very short time. I expect this is my new normal. I have genuinely sad moments when I miss my mom because for all of her faults she loved me fiercely. I am her only child and she was very proud of me, my husband, and my children. It feels strange to know she won't be calling anymore. That one of my biggest fans isn't here anymore in the flesh. She has been showing up in other ways and that has been fun and healing to experience. There is a freedom and a lightness and some magic in that and I am choosing to focus more on those gifts than the sad and heavy reality of her passing.  I have moments of grace and compassion and then moments of intense anger. The compassion and grace are starting to stick around more than the anger and I am thankful for that. 

My husband has been amazing. My friends have been amazing. Salt Garrison and what I learned during my time with him has been so helpful. He helped me learn to re-write many of the stories I mentioned above check him out if you have a story on loop you need help re-writing. Essential Oils are really helping. They have been a gentle and constant companion to me. This roller recipe in particular.

Even though I have SO MANY TOOLS from which to pull from to move through this I am also learning the importance of sitting in this - walking through this - allowing the feels to be felt. I am really experiencing the words of Jesus - "Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted." 

 

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