Yesterday was my mother's birthday. She's been gone for over 25 years and I still have difficulty with her birthdays. Normally I try to do something nice for myself on her birthday. I bought my first new car on birthday. I have purchased myself some spectacular jewelry and even bought my first home on her birthday. In keeping with tradition I tried to think of something nice to do for myself yesterday. I don't have the money I used to have so buying myself something extravagant wasn't really a possibility. Even if I'd had some money that wasn't working, I would have had difficulty purchasing something that would have helped me feel better about missing her. I don't need anything, that's for certain. Even more than that, I have come to see that I can't fill the hole that not having a mom has left in my soul. I will never have anyone who loved me like my mom loved me and in my 50s I am wrestling with the pain that truth has brought me. I am conflicted.
The difficulty I am having is knowing that while no human being will ever love me the way she did , she didn't do so great a job. She did the best she could with what she had to work with. She was not an abusive parent in any sense of the law. She never said anything unkind to me. I don't remember ever being spanked by her. However, I can no longer ignore the truth of her abandoning me as a child. Whatever her thought process was- however laudable it may have seemed to her- the bare bones truth of the matter is that she left me. She took my other siblings and left me behind. I was 3 then and I am 53 now. That's half a century of trying to fill a vacuum all while carrying the useless feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. Fifty years of trying to do things for myself because I was certain no one else would. Fifty years of making certain no one would be able to abandon me again and if they did, it wouldn't matter because I was going to survive in spite of any harm they had to offer me. Fifty years of building walls and fortresses to protect me from an enemy ... a boogie man... something a 3 year old child imagined and a 53 year old woman believed. I have monsters in the recessed closet of my psyche and I am claiming not to be afraid of the dark. Ha!
So yesterday I was at a loss for what to do. I did not want to spend more time or money trying to fill a void I have already given too much import. I am not saying that the traumas of childhood aren't real. I am not saying they aren't important. I am saying I made the traumas larger and more consuming than they ever were on their own. I made them bigger than they needed to be. You here so often now "it is what it is." Life is what it is except in anxiety and fear we live like it is what it may become. I didn't want to buy myself anything else just in case no one else would but I wanted to do something. Spontaneity collided with catharsis. I marched into my bedroom and went through my closet, filling 3 garbage bags full of clothes. There were clothes I liked a lot but had not worn in over a year. There were clothes that were too big and some that were too small. They were perfectly lovely and in good shape, they just weren't of benefit to me. Someone else can and will use them. I loaded them into the car and drove them to Good Will. That's what I did to be kind to myself on my mother's birthday. I am purging myself of stuff. Unnecessary stuff. Real and imagined.... bit by bit... it's going. I am moving the line between what I need and what I think I need to survive.
During the surgery we Christians call sanctification you sometimes have to look at yourself for who and what you really are- without benefit of numbing anesthesia. God holds up a mirror and instead of seeing what you think you are.... you get a glimpse of reality. He shines a light in the closet and exposes the monsters you've been content to hide or have been too afraid to stare down. You see yourself with truth-discerning eyes. It's ugly business. Facts often make fiction of our perceptions. The Holy Spirit exposes our sinful self-possession. We see in a mirror dimly, our minds are like lint traps full of fuzz we have agitated from the fabric of our experiences. We percolate, ingeminate, perseverate on tiny little pieces of inaccurate perception mixed with a dash of truth to make it all seem believable to us. Out of context and torn from the whole it is hazardous to our well being but we ignore that... until we cannot. Monsters in the lint trap are slain by the light of truth.... but that doesn't mean they die quietly or quickly or all at once. Sanctification is a process...painful but worth it.
2 Corinthians 3:18
18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.