When I drive into my hometown, I feel like Gollum returning to Mordor. I have to go, but I would rather sprout wings and fly away.
My life wasn’t bad. I was loved and cared for. Unfortunately, I lived under the shadow of a parent with Borderline Personality Disorder. Back then, I just thought that I was the unlucky one with a hateful parent while all of my friends had reasonable ones. I thought it was my fault that she was so mean. It seemed that her sun rose and fell on my choices. This became the most apparent when I married in the middle of college. Leaving home for school was difficult for both of us, but I guess we both assumed I’d move back home after graduation. My getting married sent her into an entirely new state of psychosis. She sabotaged the wedding plans, she despised my fiance, and her metaphorical presence overshadowed my two-week Mediterranean honeymoon. After college, my husband and I decided to move cross-country. If I had endured emotional and verbal abuse before, boy! did I get a bellyful then. In time, my husband and I moved closer to home and started a family. I thought this would finally make her content; I was wrong. She was widowed a within a few months of my return, but she was unbearable before that happened. For years, she challenged every choice I made as a parent. She had an unsolicited opinion to shove down my throat in every situation. As my household grew larger, my visits became fewer, and my mom got older.
I’ve been a mother for eight years now and an orphan for two. I was grateful to personally oversee her care in her last 30 days. I could finally prove that I loved her. In those days, she voiced appreciation for my 15-year husband, validated my parenting choices, and engaged in some conversation that was not dominated by years of conflict. Some moments were laced with verbal poison, but she was too dependent upon me by then to push her luck. Plus, I could pass the buck to the medical powers-that-were. Despite my efforts to rescue her, she died alone in a nursing home on a black, cold January night.
Mom had always wanted me to sing “Wind Beneath My Wings” at her funeral. That didn’t happen. I spent a few months grieving her, but after a while I didn’t feel very sad anymore. I felt relief. I didn’t have to dread calling her all the time. I didn’t have to worry about her while I was on vacation. Last Christmas was my first without her and was my happiest ever. Recently, while driving down the road, a bird was flying along above me. Instantly, I thought of how I felt like that bird. Free.
I loved my mom, but I had lost all affection for her. I served her to be faithful toward the duty that God had given me. I worked hard to have no regrets once she died. But, I do have one: that I never spoke the truth in love to her. I regret being so absorbed in defending myself that I never had the clarity of mind to diffuse her attacks with a reasonable and loving challenge. I feel other regrets, but those are out of my control. I regret that my relationship with my mom was painful. I regret that she never sought help or realized that she needed it. Those regrets haunt me, but they move me to do things differently for my children. I want my children to do more than love me when they grow up; I want them to enjoy my company. I want them to trust me with their hearts. I want them to see me as a comrade in arms who is for them. I believe this is possible, but it will take a lot of humility and a little research. My goal is to identify the important factors in creating a relationship with my children who love me because they feel free to love me, not coerced to. I’d like to think that counseling is preventable.
So, this blog is born. I’ll be conducting interviews with anyone who will sit down with me. I’ll also be taking your answers via the questionnaire on this blog. I will conceal everyone’s identity, starting with mine. Here, I’ll be called Zipporah. In Hebrew, it means bird. It’s also the name of the woman married to Moses, epic leader of slaves to freedom. I hope many will join me on this project. Oh, that our children will be free from the foolish things we parents do to drive their hearts from us!