My family pictures portrayed happy people who appeared to get along, but this was not always the case.
I was a sick child, but my parents were always there for me when I was in the hospital. They supported everything I did from ballet to playing tennis. My relationship with my mother really changed during my teenage years. My mother suffered from bipolar disorder, which was difficult for me to experience. We were able to tolerate each other, even though she was hypercritical of everything I did.
However, as the years went on, we weren’t able to be in the same room together without a fight breaking out. She began to fight me on every decision I made because they were not what she wanted from me or for me. I began dating my future husband at the age of 20, and there was a lot of judgment towards him and me. I was kicked out of the house less than a month later.
The next 12 years were full of ups and downs. There were times when everything would be tolerable and there were times of silence. Within that time, my brother got married, we lost a nephew to leukemia, and four of my nephews were born. My relationship with my mom was filled with so many small hills and huge valleys. In 2010, the year I got married, she came over to my home and said some very cruel things about me and my future husband. I told her that I loved her, but she needed to leave my home. That was the last time I ever spoke to her. She passed away at the age of 53 after three years of us not speaking.
That was five years ago. There have been a lot of emotions that came with that, including guilt, sadness, anger, and grief. I have had to do a lot of soul-searching to see where I was wrong and what I could have done differently.
I’ve realized that not every situation or relationship is wrapped up in a pretty box. Sometimes, it is easier to love people from afar. That is what I had to do with my family for most of my adult life. My dad and I have since reconnected and hang out a lot. We are finally able to do the things that I missed out on doing with him in my 20s and early 30s. I am able to see my family anytime without restriction. Through time and lengthy discussions, extensive healing has taken place. Is it easy? No. Do we still disagree on things? Yes, but we have also grown to not allow this to stop us from spending time together.
The experience of having a strained relationship with my mom was difficult, but I have been able to share what I’ve learned to help others. I was able to guide a close friend through recent issues with her mom using the mistakes of my past relationship with my mom. I have helped her to see both sides of the situation and encouraged her to move through the present situation so that she can have a future relationship with her mom.
As humans, our instinct is to blow off at each other and only see things from our side. This is not the best way to handle any situation or relationship. Patience and understanding are keys to dealing with a difficult relationship. Being able to step back from the situation and attempt to look at all sides helps the other person feel like their concerns really matter. This can change the trajectory of the situation. Pausing to consider the most loving and wise way to act in all circumstances is the most rewarding way to persevere through each issue and to live with no regrets.
I love this quote from Professor’s House:
“When both the mother and the daughter feel as though they are valued and accepted by the other party, they tend to leave the quips, the sarcasm, and the constant edge of bickering on the back burner. Many mothers and daughters who have learned to do this find that they actually do really like each other, provided there are the appropriate boundaries in place.”
I just went through my fifth Mother’s Day without my mom. There are times that I miss her, and there are times where I mourn the relationship I wish I had with her. I have come to realize that some of the issues my mother dealt with had nothing to do with me personally, but her own struggles that she had been through. She had her share of challenges, especially her illness which started before I was even born. When I consider those things, I am able to give her grace.
During the days leading up to her funeral, I wrote a five-page letter to her that is in her casket. This letter says everything I needed to say, but never got the chance. I wish I would have known that her time was coming to an end so I could have reconciled with her in person, but I have been able to forgive myself and her over time.
I have learned through my faith that challenges will come in order for us to grow and learn from them. I feel I have become a better woman for going through this experience and look ahead with joy and excitement to see how my story can have a positive impact on others.
You will enjoy this episode of our podcast Mama Drama Every Woman Has and How to Overcome – 008
You’ll also like Establishing Healthy Boundaries in the Grit and Grace Life, Why Reconciliation Is Important on Mother’s Day, True Beauty is Found in a Woman’s Strength, 5 Tips for Mending Fences in Your Relationships, and Why You Should Just Have That Hard Conversation (And How to Do It).