Sticks and Stones

comparison: the quality of being similar or equivalent

A complete stranger completely took the wind out of my sails last night.  One comment that he will never remember he made, that he would certainly not know sucker-punched the living daylights out of me, and I’m scrambling to regroup.

I’ve shared some of my past.  I’ve given you some snapshots into my family life growing up.
But for two huge reasons, I have kept and will continue to keep a lot out of the public’s view.

One, my family had made quite a name for itself in our area, especially the church community.  It seems most people know me the minute they hear my maiden name.  The reports I hear from those folks are glowing.  They saw something that my sister and I did not.  During all of the controversy surrounding the death of my parents, there were a lot of ugly words going around about me and about my husband and we have chosen to not even play in that game.  Most folks just didn’t know and didn’t really care to see what was really happening.

Two, my past is not my present, nor is it my future so I try not to linger there.
But occasionally, it catches up with me.

So, when I do speak about it, it’s because I’m needing to be real.  Not to slander.  Ever.
With that said, I will tell you a little about my mother.

I believe she was a deeply sad person.  I have tried through many avenues to figure out when that started for her.  I’m pretty sure she was a very little girl when she felt she needed to take on the world, fists raised.  Because I knew her as very angry.
Most people saw a smile.  I did not.

My mother never made an effort to show me love.  Not even when I was a tiny girl.  We never bonded as most mothers and daughters do.  Oddly, I never really saw her bond with anyone.  People thought they were close with her, but there was a huge disconnect between who she was when she stepped out the door and who she was at home.
She became a mastermind at maintaining her image.

It’s next to impossible to maintain a relationship that has no foundation.  You can do “the thing” all day long, but in the end, when push comes to shove, relationships need depth and heart.  They simply do not exist when they are built on a smokescreen.

I’m going to be brutally honest right now.  Perhaps more transparent than I ever have let myself be in these public words.

I struggle daily to forgive my mother.

It makes me cry because I feel so flawed to even say that.

But, the heart of the issue is that I cannot understand a woman who could not love her little girl.  No matter what happened, no matter what damaged her, I was her little, tiny girl and I was worth loving.  There was no love shown in our home.  You may not believe that statement, but it was true. A roof was over our heads and there was food on the table, so I suppose to some degree you could call that love.
It took me years to allow myself to see the disparity between what I knew and what love looks like.

And, no matter how hard I’ve tried to reason out some excuses for that, I can’t find them.  No one’s past can excuse how my sister and I were raised. because I now know it’s possible to change the patterns we knew.
With the help of God, I did.

So, every day I forgive her for pretending to love me.
But some days that truth hurts more than others.

This is such a hot button with most women because most women have mothers who hugged them and whispered love in their ears, wiped their tears, sat with them when they were sick, and reveled in their children’s successes.  Very few women can relate to what it feels like to have a mother/daughter relationship as nonexistent as mine was, so very few can understand my story.  But it’s so vitally important to realize that not all mothers behave the way we think they should.  Mothering is not always instinctive.
Some of us were left on our own when we needed our mothers most.

I reintroduced myself one day to someone I had barely known as a teenager when we saw each other at the store a couple years ago.  She asked (like so many do) about my parents.  SUCH a tricky question.  I have various answers depending on what I think folks want/need to hear.
I told her my mother had died and a tiny bit of the story behind it.  She proceeded to tell me her story.  As a woman with about six decades of experience under her belt, she finally told her own mother that she felt like their relationship would end up killing one of them if it continued to be as unhealthy as it was.
This woman is a beautiful mother of several children with a precious heart who had to separate from a toxic relationship with her mother.  And her skin has become thick because of that decision.
I am still recovering from the shock of finally having someone to relate with.

I decided as a barely eighteen year old mother that I would do everything the opposite of my mom.  I lavished love and praise on my husband (that was easy and natural to do).  I snuggled and kissed my babies and poured every single ounce of my heart and soul into them (which turned out to be the most natural thing in the world).  I have made a lot of mistakes, but my family can never deny how much I have loved them.

All through my childhood a phrase was spoken in our home that I learned never to repeat.  It was used in moment of anger and sometimes just to wound.  “You’re just like you’re mother.”  Or father.  Whichever suited them and would hurt the most.  Every time I heard it, my own heart silently screamed, “NO!  I’m not!!  See me for me.  See me at all.”
No two people are the same.  No one really likes to be compared.  We long to be recognized for our uniqueness–our very own individualtiy.

Last night when the man said I look exactly like my mom, I could have thrown up.  There is nothing I want less than that association after all these years of trying so hard to be the opposite.
The irony of it all was I had had the best day.  I was out with a woman who has become like a mother to me, my best friend and her mother and my daughter.  It was a mother/daughter girls’ night and we were laughing and singing and having a ball.  And here he came with his words and knocked me flat.

My fourteen year old wise, wise daughter said to me, “Mom.  The enemy knew what a great day you had with your real mom, and he just tried to upset you.”
She is amazing and so right.

We get going, pedaling uphill through life and sometimes each push on the pedal feels like torture.  We get some momentum and coast a ways and then hit a rock and, BOOM, flat tire.
But, I’m going to do my best to shake that flat tire off and get back on my bike.

The view from the good places is spectacular, and well worth the climb.  The enemy might like to  distract me from the amazing things God is doing in me, but I know the sound of his mean, ugly voice and I quit listening to it a loong time ago.

How?  It’s a choice.  To keep the truth about how loved I am always in the front of my mind.  To ignore the comparisons I have always heard and find my identity in who I’ve learned I am outside of any other person.  To think about others that are hurting before myself and be willing to be used–even it’s just telling my story so maybe someone else can relate and not feel so alone.

To remember to rush into love with total abandon no matter the risk.
Loving, for real is worth it every time.

Also read; A quick follow up to Sticks and Stones here.

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12 thoughts on “Sticks and Stones

  1. Your beautiful soul and heart touch me more and more every little bit I get to share in your world. I am sincerely humbled by the LOVE you share with your family. You are deserving of nothing but good in your life- and when it is touched by darkness, you have found a way to shine a light on it till it becomes a beacon for others to share, to see new perspectives, to learn to love with a whole heart. You have no idea how many times you have made a difference in MY world. I have been a silent admirer, but today, please let my small words mean a little to you.

    • Sonya,I don’t even have words for how grateful my heart is for your comment. I am literally at a loss.Just please accept my sincere thanks for taking the time to affirm and confirm. This one left me feeling a bit vulnerable. :o)May you be blessed beyond measure…

  2. Over the years, I have thought about your parents. You described your mother perfectly “maintaining her image”. Home group didn’t know about how you grew up, but we did witness “image”, but they were not able to maintain the image. It started to crack and crumble. The way you described your mother is the way I saw her too. My mom is not a woman who displays much affection, either. She wasn’t hateful, maybe not even distant. More like selfish. We got along okay when I was growing up. However, I have no memories of being kissed or hugged by her. My grandma, on the other hand, was very affectionate. And that was my mom’s mom. Was grandma always like that? I do not know. My daughter and I are not very close, either. That saddens me. I think we also need to look at our personalaties. The difference in personalaties plays a big part in our mother-daughter relationships. And, of course, how we grew up. I think you are right about your mother being angry. I understand the forgiveness part. When I think of your parents, I am saddened by the way they chose to live their life. And we do choose how we live our lives. They chose to live angry and resentful lives behind closed doors. In the end, they couldn’t keep the doors closed. I am blessed by your blog and deeply appreciate letting me and others see and understand who your parents were and the environment you grew up in. May God continue to bless you and your family!!

    • Vicki,Thank you for your candidness and heartfelt words. It is so good to know that someone else can confirm what we knew. Very few people looked at the situation carefully, and most just pointed fingers and words. I guess the most we can do is learn from observing, right? And as for your daughter, I promise you, it is never, never too late. Just keep throwing love at her and she will come back for more. I can’t wait to come see you at work and give you a big hug. :o)Blessings right back at ya!

  3. Oh my dear friend. I remember being in your home and knowing your parents, the darkness and fear that was there. I am so sorry for how you had to grow up. Every child should know they are loved and feel that love every day. Despite what you have gone through, you have used it to shatter those chains and change the outcomes of generations. You have let your Father shave off those hard places, those places that are hard to reach, ones you don’t want anyone to see. Your children and their children will never know the life and heartache you lived through. They have only known an amazing mother who loves them with every part of her being and nourishes their minds, spirits and bellies in amazing ways. I know how hard it is to forgive a parent. Guilt for not wanting to because of the hurt, but feeling the obligation. Those invisible ties are strong. Having a guarded heart. I will pray for your heart to be relieved. I love you and how you are so willing to share just to help others.

  4. I’m so proud of you! You are a wonderful parent, an amazing spouse, and one of the most giving,thoughtful, and sincere friends I know.I pray you have peace in your heart as you deal with this. Love you, Debbie

    • Debbie,I love you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. And I will always thank God for bringing you into my life. I’m going to sop up my grateful tears now and not let myself go on too much, but know your comment deeply touched my heart. ❤

  5. I started to comment yesterday but stopped midway through to take some time to cool off. Your thoughts struck such a chord with me.Last year, my mom told me that I am “weak”. She grew up in a very angry, abusive household. She became an angry woman. She brought that anger (and alcoholism and addiction and abuse) into our home. I remember my childhood home as being chaotic and filled with uncertainty and I remember walking on eggshells all the time. I remember a lot of effort being made to portray the right image at church and school. I know that my mom sees me as weak because she believes that anger helped her to survive. To her, anger is power. Yelling and throwing things gets attention and makes people react. She wouldn’t know what to do without that rage boiling under the surface all the time.But I am much stronger than her. I decided when I was married that I was not going to drag generations of anger, abuse, and addictions into my family. I am the wall that keeps all of that garbage away from my children. I can see exactly what anger has done and I refuse to carry it. I will not be pushed over; I am not going to allow my childhood to affect or color theirs. I will hug and kiss and tell my children how wonderful they are…and they will never, ever experience that affection and wonder when the other, angrier, shoe is going to drop and squash them.I am not my mother. I will not grow into my mother, because we made such different choices for our lives. I have chosen a different legacy for this family.And you? You are NOT your mother. You made choices early on that have given you a completely different life. Your home is warm and inviting and peaceful. You choose to be authentic, even when it’s not perfect. Your husband and children sing your praises every chance they get. YOU are a wonderful example of a mommy and wife. In that moment the other night, one person who doesn’t know YOU made a comment. But every day, all the time, there is a chorus of voices expressing their love and admiration for you. Dear one, my prayer is that you might put to rest any fear that you would ever be anything like your mother.

    • Ahhhh…Misty. Now I know why we relate so very well. Our childhoods sound very similar as do our decisions to let the legacy for our children begin in a whole new way. I often say, just because it was my legacy to live the way I did as a child, it does NOT have to be that of my children. I want you to read that last paragraph back to yourself, because YOU deserve to hear every word of that EVERY day. Your beautiful family is an inspiration, and I know what it is to build that from scratch with an awful lot of help from our heavenly Daddy.A big, huge Texas-sized hug to you. You are amazing. ❤

  6. Alison–I really can’t find the words right now to express the amazing & awesome person that you are! I have known you since you were 16/17, & although back at that time, I did not know “your world” enough to recognize the things that you were experiencing, I have so much respect for you (always have) for the life that you choose to live “in spite of” the lifestyle you had to deal with growing up & into adulthood with your parents. Truly, I admire you so! You are one special, incredibly loving woman & you pass that on to your beautiful family & others. I wish I could’ve been there more for you “back in the day”–and I’m truly sorry that I wasn’t. I can relate on some level to your mom/daughter relationship–I had something similar with my mom–we were always oil & water together & I very rarely felt “accepted” in her eyes. It wasn’t to your extent, but a portion. I, too, struggle b/c I never felt like I was in a loving relationship with my mom the way it was “supposed to be” & how I feel about that. Sadly, it could even be difficult to buy her a Mother’s Day card–so I strive to make it soooo different for my relationship with my Sara. I feel very blessed b/c we DO have a wonderful relationship/bond–in spite of what my relationship was with my mom! I say “ditto” to all the above replies to your blog & just want to re-iterate that you are so loved & you are beautiful expression of God’s love with how you deal with others & the example you & your family are to me & the rest of the world! I see it in you ALL THE TIME! Truly inspiring! And you put your heart into words so beautifully–thanks for sharing it! My life is definitely more enriched for having you a part of it! ((hugs))

    • Sheryl, your words mean the worlds to me. You HAVE known me for a looong time, haven’t you? :o) Little Sara was just five! Wow! Lots of water under the bridge. And you WERE there for me because you were a friend-someone who accepted me. I needed every bit of that back then. Hats off for making the choice to take the hand you were dealt and change your daughter’s legacy. I admire that very much. Thank you for taking the time to comment and be a part of my little blog circle. Anyone with a friend like you is blessed, indeed. ❤

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