As I sit and stare at this blank sheet of paper, I often wonder what our story would be if we could have imagined it ourselves. Certainly, we would have chosen a plot twist or two. However, with those changes, we may not have ended up where we are now—40+ years together through a kaleidoscope of experiences.
Over the years, situations occur and we often wish for a reset button. What surprises me about our connection is that we have reorganized our relationship with an open door policy of honesty and respect. This has propelled us further into the mother-daughter relationship that fiction writers aim to create. There have been numerous rocky paths that both of us had zero interest in navigating. We have shared tender moments together over lengthy conversations discussing how to self-improve. We have had the heartfelt dance of disclosures about our silenced feelings over the years. I am looking forward to the many memories and life lessons we have yet to carry out together.
It seemed only natural for me to share my perspectives of how in awe I am of your resiliency and perseverance. The tribulations you have triumphed over and endured in your life, even prior to my existence, are beyond extraordinary. You continue to impress me with your optimism, endless energy, and the ability to create an environment that seems effortless. For anyone who meets you—little do they know the constant battle you have fought and won to earn your place in this game we call living.
Your pain had to be unbearable, to safeguard me from the brutal agony you must have been experiencing in every sense of your being. I respect your strength to shield me from your inside turmoil and outside instability, with the various side effects and symptoms of being a domestic abuse victim, let alone the pain from the mental and physical attacks themselves. There have been many times in my life that I have come across women who have experienced similar storylines, and little did I know, my own mother was suffering in silence. I can only imagine the numerous times you wanted to share your pain, humiliation, and anger, and hope that someone would willingly make it all go away. Over the years, the choices you have made are a direct result of your experiences, and for that, I now understand and respect you for having the courage to carry on with a brave face even though you were frightened inside. I have a high regard for you, for not wanting to tarnish my father’s image. You have always maintained a neutral stance, and this must have been easier said than done. Thankfully, our conversations over the years allowed you a safe place with no judgment to express your secrets that have been locked up for years.
The key point I want to get across is we have had control over our choices. It was your choice to live with this anguish for decades, allowing people to believe you were the weak pillar in our family, when actually you were the cornerstone. I applaud you. I admire you. I thank you. We both had to mentally adapt our thought processes by making minor adjustments to our behaviors that we regularly carry out with each other, our family members, and friends. We each understand that habits are hard to break. But what continues to impress me is that you have the nonstop desire to want to modify your current behavior in order for the process to take place.
Transformation cannot occur unless we are willing and able to accept the responsibility that comes with the progression of change. You have done this over the years at your pace. There were times I wished it would have been at my pace, but time and maturity allowed me to understand that it is not for me to measure. We both have learned there are no magic capsules that can correct the paths we have been on together or individually. It is personal progress that shifts the gears to move toward the outcome one desires.
Learned behavior from parental practices passed down over the years can be difficult to break free from. The constant verbal warfare you have received from various people in your life is inexcusable. The physical abuse that took place against your spirit was unwarrantable. With all these negative experiences, you repeatedly have felt responsible for them and guilty for them, flowing over into my life. You must realize they have allowed me to create change. It forced me to make the best out of each situation that is presented to me—even if I was unaware of what would happen next. You gave me the space to revel in the unknown, find a comfort in uncertainty, and realize that once the discomfort and the vulnerability fades, one can find pleasure in this new way of existing.
One of my favorite quotes states, “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” Thank you for modeling that I have the strength within me to do many things, but I have to believe in myself to get there. Over the years, you didn’t always believe in yourself, but I always believed within you there was a colossal courage. The desire you had deep down to leap from many unstable circumstances to find solid ground could not have been easy. Take comfort knowing that watching you over the years made me realize what it takes to be a survivor.
You taught me many things. The only way we can advance ourselves in this life is to adamantly refuse to retreat. You are a wonderful example of this. I will continue to celebrate you. You must celebrate you and disengage from the people that have haunted you over the years.
In short, Mom, my wish is that you raise your expectation of happiness and clear the past to make room for your full potential to soak in.
With deep love and admiration,
Published at Life As A Human on May 9th, 2015
© Shannon Hogan Cohen 2015