This is the whole truth of what I would say, if I were not concerned about being PC at my mother’s memorial. But, because of the level of understanding of 99% of the people who will be there, I have omitted several details in what I will actually say, because they wouldn’t understand.
The mother daughter relationship can be one of the most close and yet one of the most complicated relationships there is. When I think back to my memories of Mom, I remember several of the things she taught me. As I was a product of the late 60’s and 70’s, it was important that I be skilled in the domestic arts: cooking, cleaning, and sewing. And I did learn those things.
In particular, I remember the morning of one of my parents’ anniversaries, and we kids decided to give mom and dad breakfast in bed. I took their order, and we (probably me more than the brothers) made their breakfast. I remember making Dad a fried egg, but because I forgot to put butter in the pan, it ended up rather scrambled. I also remember going to make Mom’s Sanka, and not knowing how much of what to put in the cup. I don’t think I could read yet, so I must have been 5. One teaspoon of Sanka in the cup, pour in the boiling water, and stir. Toast was made, and breakfast was served.
When I was a teenager, Mom felt it was important for me to know how to check the oil in a car, and to know how to change a tire. And so that I was practiced at tire changing, she made me change her car’s summer tires to her winter tires… all 4 of them. It came in handy in college when my then boyfriend’s car had a flat and he was about to call someone to come and change the tire for him. I looked at him in disbelief and went about changing the tire (teaching him how to do it as I did it).
One of Mom’s greatest gifts to me was the love of music. As she was a professional musician, she took me to children’s music classes beginning when I was 3 years old. I had my first instrument lessons at 6. And added music theory classes when I was 8. We were taken to more of Mom’s performances than I can count: orchestras, musicals, chorales, quartets, and more. I was steeped in classical music literally from when I was in the womb. And even though I didn’t choose music as a professional career, and I haven’t played in a long time, I know that anytime I choose, I can pick up my violin and play again.
Some of the most important lessons Mom and I worked on were for me to learn strength and independence, compassion and understanding. Did I learn these from my mother modeling them for me? No. I learned to be strong by having a mother who was often not there for me, and undermined me when I was very young. You see, Mom was bipolar. And when she would ramp up into mania, her perceptions of everything would become skewed. In that state of mind, she would verbally lash out at me, attacking with her razor-sharp tongue. After years of being cut down, I learned to be strong and independent- that I had my own back.
And as I got older and understood more about Mom’s mental illness and how it changed her, I developed understanding and then compassion for what being bipolar does to a person. It changes them. And when her behavior deteriorated, I realized that who I would be dealing with would be manic Mom or depressed Mom, not level, even-keeled Mom. Level, even-keeled Mom was great. She was happy, social, friendly, engaged in life, and a real joy to be around. Unfortunately, during the last several years of Mom’s life that side of Mom came and went, sticking around for only very brief visits.
Thanks to a recent session with a wonderful, local Medium, I was able to connect spiritually to Mom to check in with her and see how she’s doing. So, Mom, as you are now on the other side, holding Dad’s hand, with your parents there with you, I wish you well in your current endeavor of reviewing your life. I understand that you are taking it slowly, and that is absolutely ok. Go as you can. And in time, your energy will be vibrant and sparkling again, as it was before you came into this most recent life. I will continue to connect with you, and when it’s my time, I’ll see you again. I love you.
Wishing you strength and peace, as you face the memorial. You have worked hard to understand your mother, and that is such a gift.
Thank you so much.
I often say the same–the mother/daughter relationship is so unique. I had a similar past with my mom who wasn’t there for me. I think this is going to be something I’ll need to work through over the years and after she passes on as well. Reading about how you’re coping and strengthening your relationship with your mom (even after death!) gives me hope, Sue. Thanks so much for sharing this painful time in your life with us. I wish you peace and love.
Thanks Darla. I have to say that when it comes to the big insights that have helped me understand the “why” behind it all, they have all come via intuition: and mostly from people I have sat with for psychic/ medium readings.I am always asking what is the lesson in this. For me, when I can see the bigger picture of things, there is an immediate shift. This shift causes real change in me. And the biggest thing I have to constantly remind myself is to be patient because it’s all a process. Some days are definitely better than others.
Your words are sincere and heartfelt; the fact that you stuck around and did your best to love her in spite of what her illness did to her and your relationship speaks to the love that was there.
Thank you for sharing such a personal and painful moment in your life … and as far as the rest of them go, no they won’t understand. Who cares? She’s your Mom, not theirs.
Thanks MJ. I think I was always looking for and waiting for the more level and normal Mom, whom we saw a lot more of when I was younger. And yes, many people don’t understand the dynamics of why we have certain relationships in our lives- and it’s too bad, because they could be so much better off if they knew the real truth of how things work. (Reading Sylvia Browne’s books taught me a lot about this).
I have a brother who battles this and a son who is dangerously close. He fights depression and there have been times that he’s exhibited signs of BD. Thankfully, those dark days have passed. Just got off the phone with him and his happy, chirpy, “Hi Mom!” makes my heart sing. I understand more than you know. Hugs
It’s a shame. I wonder what they wouldn’t understand? Perhaps they would and would welcome your transparency. I’m certain they were aware, perhaps choosing to ignore because they were unsure how to respond. I find that is the case many times – we think silence means a lack of acceptance or disapproval, when sometimes it means a lack of understanding and a fear to ask questions. In any case, I am glad you can express your thoughts here.
Honestly, even though people might have been aware of Mom being bipolar, very few of them saw or recognized the ugly side of it. Last winter, as she was ramping up into mania and her perceptions began to become skewed, she became very happy. Her girlfriends thought she was genuinely happy, even though they were a little bit confused, since Mom had just lost her husband. Once Mom was hospitalized, I had to explain to her closest girlfriends what was actually going on.
I think that people would have compassion for Mom’s struggles. But they don’t understand that Mom and I made an agreement between eachother before we were born, that she would be bipolar, that she would be my Mom, and that I wanted to learn strength and independence in this way, with this particular dynamic set up. Most people think that we are randomly born into whatever family, and that when tough or bad things happen, they happen TO us; that we are the victim. I have learned that there is nothing random about it. And that because we were in on the planning from the beginning, we co-create our experience called life. That’s what most people don’t understand, because it’s not what we are taught.
What an absolutely beautiful, authentic memorial. Your mother must be so proud of you. i know i would be.
Thank you very much.
Susan-love, The fact that you could journey with your mother through this and emerge on the other side of it with your compassion intact is the miracle. Your mother is lucky to have you, to have a daughter who is so willing to work her program and seek healing, to stay in her truth, to defy the damage done. You are lucky for having a mama willing to be a bit of a villain in this life so that you could get clear, go deeper, and grow. I love sharing in your healing journey so much, sis. I just adore you. ❤
Thanks so much Liz. I know that you understand things at a deeper level than most, and for that I am grateful. Love you, too!