I Love You. I Love You More.

Mother's Day

Our relationships with our mothers

In last week’s blog post, I wrote about mothers and wanted to give you time to process anything related to your mom that was unresolved before Mother’s Day, which is on Sunday. I hope that you were able to do that.

“Thanks, Junie, I had a healing, loving, virtual chat with my Mom who’s in a care home with advanced Alzheimer’s. I gave her freedom from me to go and be with Dad, her parents, brothers, etc. on the other side. We also shared forgiveness, although I didn’t think of much that I needed to forgive her for.” WG

Another person wrote:

“Thank you Junie. Before last week’s newsletter, I had been thinking – oh, no, another mother’s day is coming up where I have to fake it. I took your writing exercise to heart and I can hardly believe that by the end of it, I was able to see my part in our discord and invited her out to brunch. I feel hopeful that for the first time that there’s a space, an opening and it’s going to be OK. I really want that and I know in her heart, she does too.” LF

In case you missed it, here is the writing prompt I offered:

What words of love would you want to tell your mother today? And if you don’t feel loving toward her, write a pretend dialogue between you and your mom. Tell her everything you have always wanted to say. Imagine her listening to you in a way that she never has before, and that she answers you through the wisdom of her Higher Self, the part of her that loves you unconditionally.

Were you able to do that? What was the outcome? Do you feel more relaxed, healed and at peace around her? Or are you still carrying some hurt and resentment? If so, I highly encourage you to consider re-writing that story so that you are no longer walking around in pain for things that happened in the past. We can’t change what happened, but we can change our attitude toward it.

My sincere wish for you is that you and your mom have a loving, respectful, and honest relationship and that you will celebrate Mother’s Day in a wonderful way!

My story, my truth

My relationship with my mother was as tumultuous as they come. But when it was good, it was the most loving, most engaging, most beautiful love I have ever known. And because I knew how it felt to be loved so deeply, when she withdrew her love, which could happen on a dime, I suffered unbearably. My mom, like me, suffered from bi-polar illness. Unlike me, however, it was never diagnosed, and therefore never treated. So my mom did not have the skills or know-how to make the demons go away. Oh how I wished I could have waved a magic wand and made her demons go away. I wanted that so badly—for her, for me, for my dad, and for Lorraine, Barbara, and Howard, my siblings.

Read on to hear about our mixed up, crazy, profound, and beautiful love. This is an excerpt from my book, Re-Write Your Life. Today, and on this Mother’s Day, I dedicate this story to her, Minnie Swadron.

 

quillI Love You. I Love You More.

by Junie Swadron.

Mom, Mommy, Minnie, Minnie-Mouse, Moth–er! Mimi, Memes, Mindle, Ma, Minerva, Mama.

She was all of the above. Each a different personality. Still, she was my mother. Minnie Swadron. Born in 1919 in the miniscule town of Shaunavan, Saskatchewan; first born child of Romanian immigrants, Joseph and Lily Lazarus.

I remember being at the hospital and holding mom’s hand. She didn’t know I was holding it. Or perhaps she did. Who’s to say what a person in coma knows or feels or perceives? Sometimes I would hold her hand a few inches above the sheets and then let go of it – let it fall. It was an eerie feeling but I did it hoping the sudden drop would wake her up. I wanted so much for her to wake up and smile up at me with her beautiful green eyes.

And yes, there was that day––the day that you did open them mom and you recognized me right away. And you held your hands out to me and I bent down and you kissed my face. You kissed my cheeks, my forehead, my chin, my eyes. There was a desperation to it––an aching, a pleading, a hanging on. A memorizing of every feature: the shape of my eyes, the smell of my hair, the feel of my breath upon your face as you drew me into you. Soul to soul. And I loved you more than ever knowing how much you loved me. No holding back. In those kisses, you gave it all. You kissed me with an aching need to hold on which caused my heart to split open but I understood. I needed to hold on then too. It was a moment of truth. Just us and the love––no-one else in the room. No-one to criticize your love for me. Like T. who was embarrassed by your displays of affection.

I used to be embarrassed too. I hated it when I was in my teens or twenties and even thirties and we would go to the Lawrence Plaza or for walks anywhere and you insisted on holding my hand. I guess it reminded me too much of being a child sitting next to you on the couch watching TV and you would want me to scratch your legs. It used to repulse me. But the queasy feeling left once I moved west and went back for visits. Of course I was middle-aged by then. And last October when I stayed with you after your surgery and you seemed so little and vulnerable, I would have done anything to make you feel better. So I actually heard myself offering to massage your back. I did and as much as you cooed expressions of delight, it was me, I know, who benefited the most.

My mom Minnie

My mom receiving a loving kiss from her grand-daughter Jennifer.

And now you’re gone and I remember those Toronto days traveling the T.T.C. There was snow piled high on the ground when I took the bus from your apartment on Chaplin Crescent to the Scarborough General Hospital. Sometimes there were blizzards as I walked and waited for the bus. I hate being cold but I loved the snow. It held me. It supported me. It reminded me of so many other Toronto winters.

And the times you and I spoke with glee on the phone from our respective homes after the first snowfall, loving the beauty, the stillness, the freshness in the winter sky. We loved so many things like that. Standing on your balcony or mine mid-summer when the thunder storms crashed through the sky and the rain came down in torrents and splashed heavily onto the pavement below. We loved the drama. We even loved the humidity. And I remember when I was a little girl living on Neptune Drive when you took me outside during the rain showers to wash our hair or catch the drops in our mouths. And we’d giggle and dance in the puddles. Those were on the good days. And those are the ones I care to remember for now.

Last night in my writing group I wrote:

I’m here with you again mom. Sometimes I think I’ve forgotten you because my days get full and I don’t remember to miss you and I’ve gotten used to not calling you every day. Used to it? I don’t know. Buried it is more like it. Sometimes lately when I’ve spoken about you, I talk about how crazy you were when I was a child. I don’t talk about the summer sun shower dances or my teenage years when I’d walk in the door after school and Dick Clarke’s American Bandstand would be blaring from the television set. I’d breathe in the comforting smells of dinner cooking on the stove and then be greeted by a happy you in your hot-pink summer short-shorts and freshly ironed white cotton blouse. I’d toss my books on the table and in two seconds we’d be jiving to Elvis Presley or twisting to Chubby Checkers. And I wouldn’t talk about the numerous times my teen-age friends gathered in our living room to be with you even when I wasn’t home. They came because you offered wisdom or encouragement or simply because you were fun to be with.

No I haven’t been mentioning those times at all. And then it struck me the other day why not. It became as plain as day. Simply put, I don’t have to miss you. I don’t have to yearn for you. For your gentle words. For the unconditional love you have had for me whenever my illness struck. Without fail you’d rally round no matter if we were face to face or oceans apart. Your tenderness caressed me through the phone lines, comforting me with loving words, reminding me how courageous I am, how I’ve beat this time and time again, and how I will this time too. And you’d remind me how many other obstacles I’ve faced and how I fought and won. And you’d talk about the beautiful life I made for myself and my successful therapy practice––how I helped others when I couldn’t see that I was or when none of it had any meaning for me. And you’d remind me of the constant flow of friends I’ve always had who love me to pieces. And you’d talk to me and talk to me and even when I couldn’t imagine there could be any more words left you’d find more to convince me not to give up. You were my champion mom and possibly the reason I’m still on the planet. But the irony was you also passed this hideous illness down to me. Even though you were never formally diagnosed, it was blatantly obvious. But you fought too, mom. You fought too. Differently than me. You locked your doors. You judged and blamed and eventually scared everyone away.

But I don’t want to go there now. Because in my heart, I know you were hurting. And perhaps that was the bond between us from the early days on––well that and the laughter too. All of it. Perhaps in some strange way it’s what kept our hearts intact – beyond the madness when you got too crazy to be around. Or I did. Funny, how we held each other on a pedestal which of course, never lasted. Before long, we were side by side on the floor scraping to help each other up again. And we always did. We did it with laughter, we did it with tears. In the end, we always did it with love.

I still carry you in my heart wherever I go and on some days I miss you fiercely. Whenever I see something beautiful or funny, touching or strange, I imagine you beside me, laughing your infectious laugh or smiling your beautiful smile or making a witty comment or a judgmental one. No doubt if it’s judgmental I’ll give you my ridiculous self-righteous lecture. Inevitably, you’d take a deep drag on your cigarette, look me directly in the eyes and say, ‘Junie, don’t use that therapy voice on me’ and we’d both burst out laughing.

I still have messages from you on my answering machine, mom. In one you say: ‘I miss you, Junie. I miss you honey. That’s what I do, I miss you.’ And I feel your lonely, aching heart. And now it’s my turn. Such irony. But as I type this now, a peace has washed over me. Perhaps it’s because you’re here with me. Yes, I feel you here and yet ironically I sense you telling me that it’s time to let go. Like the vivid dream I had only weeks after you died where you came to me and said, ‘It’s time to let go of me now.’ And I fought with you. I said it was too soon. And I didn’t know if you meant it for my sake or yours or for both of us.

And I am ready to do that. It’s been almost a year since Lorraine called me with the news. It was 8:30 in the morning. I was awake waiting for the call. I knew you had died. Still, I got off the phone and started wailing. Wailing! And when I stopped, all I could remember were the parting words we used in our daily telephone conversations.

‘Bye, mom. I love you.’ And you would always answer. ‘I love you more.’

So good bye, mom. I love you. And you know what? It’s my turn to say it now:

I love you even more.

Writing Prompt

Think of your mom as a woman, apart from her role as your mother. What do you think are or were her hopes and dreams? Do you think she fulfilled some of them? Are there are others she never did? What do you think are some of the most significant things she has taught you? Open yourself to the love in your heart for your mom, the woman who gave you life and begin to write the story of your relationship. Consider giving it to her on Mother’s Day as a beautiful gift or reading it to her even if she has passed away. She will hear you still.

As always, please leave your comments below or join us at Junie’s Writing Sanctuary to join the conversation.

All blessings,
Junie

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About the Author:

Junie is an author, psychotherapist, speaker, workshop facilitator and professional writing coach. She has spent the last twenty years guiding thousands of students in writing and sharing their life stories through a deep and powerful process that completely transformed how they experienced their life journey. She has worked extensively with therapy and the arts since 1989. Junie has an innate ability to tune into the root cause of a situation and bring awareness and clarity to her clients in order for them to make sense of their lives and heal their pain. Junie sees the therapeutic process and the creative process as one. “It is about accessing a special place within us where serenity, love, courage and truth reside. It is from this place we begin to know our true spirit. It is from this place we begin to heal.”

Comments

  1. b c westrom (bonnie)  May 4, 2016

    I’m glad Junie that you have found peace with your mother’s love. But she told you she loved you not that you weren’t good for anything . I have reached over and over to try and understand my troubled mother,but I can’t help it I just don’t feel her love. Even though she went through the motions of doing loving things. But they weren’t for me alone they were for my sister and that was made very clear. She taught me lots of things which I am grateful for but there is an emptiness in that I was just around and never useful.Now I’m just plain feeling sorry for myself which I hate about the whole darn thing. When I offered her my help she refused. What was I to do?You see I wasn’t what she really wanted right from the beginning – not a boy. Just another child to raise. She had everything I want but it never made her happy. At one time I adored her why can’t I do that now that I’m an adult?Why did I cry a million tears for her love? It’s much easier now that she’s gone. What if I’ve hurt my children just as much. I couldn’t bare that. I love them so much I tell them regularly,just so they’ll never feel that emptiness.I love you Mom more than I can believe. I hope you have found peace and the little girl you lost first. That’s what’s wrong, it must be. Your hurt was just too much for you.Happy Mother’s Day.

  2. Junie Swadron  May 5, 2016

    Oh, Bonnie, Thank you for your beautiful post.

    I can feel the hurt and emptiness you felt (feel). It is a terrible feeling to yearn for your mother’s love and it is nowhere to be found. Even though your adult self can imagine that it was because of the deep grief she felt because of the loss of your sister that made her incapable of loving you fully and deeply, the little girl that you once were wouldn’t have known that. She would have only known how much she wanted Mommy’s love. And that kind of pain often follows us into our adult years when we don’t heal it.

    From the sounds of it, from the way you describe how you adore your own children, and let them know it, I am sure they feel your love from head to toe. Many of us make sure that we do not repeat the destructive patterns that were bestowed upon us.

    I am happy that by the end of your writing above, you were able to feel the love in your heart for your mom, tell her so and wish her peace.

    May you feel at peace with your mom this Mother’s Day and have a celebration of love and joy from your own children!

    love,
    Junie

  3. Diana Buck  September 1, 2016

    My grandmother married in the late 1800’s was a painter and a well respected hairdresser. She and my grandfather had a shop divided down the middle. My grandfather ran the men’s side of the shop and grandma the other. A simple wall down the middle separated the two parts.
    My grandmother was also something else. She was the mother of five daughters and during her sixth pregnancy she developed an infection and died. My mother fourth girl and only three years old clearly remembers being told to go kiss her mother because she was going to die. Mom, not surprisingly remembers nothing after that. She went blank.
    In those days men did not raise children so all of them were given away. Yes, given away and or adopted.
    So at three my mother was sent to Detroit to relatives who didn’t want her, didn’t love her and didn’t feed her. Her clothes were cast offs and she was put to work. When she panicked she choked and puked and they made her eat it. Nice people eh?
    The older she got the bigger the jobs and of course the beatings. She was sent from place to place, she said she couldn’t remember all of them and when she finally had no other relative who would take her, she was sent to an orphanage. Dressed in castoffs. And of course mocked.
    In the meantime, my stupid, selfish, bastard..(.ooops! did I say that?) grandfather had promptly within a year, remarried and fathered, two more girls and one son. All of whom he spoilt.
    When my mother was 13 she was deemed useful and taken from the orphanage by my grandfather and put to work as a nursery maid and skivvy til she could be apprenticed at the shop.
    That way my step grandmother could go back to work and not have to pay anyone to childmind. But of course…isn’t there always an of course….there was by then a problem. My mother had become a beauty.
    Now, I know this to be true because I have a photo of my mother at 13 and there is a very creepy old man leaning down her cleavage. She looks utterly miserable and frightened…but no one noticed.Or perhaps cared. It was never mentioned but I’d be willing to bet he was her first rapist..or maybe second. Who knows..
    And I’m sure if you saw the picture you’d agree. And she did admit to being ‘messed with’…euphemism for sex.
    Are you having fun yet?
    My step grandmother was straight out of a Dickens novel. She treated my mother viciously and I presume that is how my mother learned to abuse me.
    Sometimes she was passive aggressive. Sometimes physically abusive. She gave her no money to buy the personal things a teenage girl needs…and you know what they are. She cut her clothing then went to my grandad (idiot and I think coward) and said it was her fault. She was put on short rations and starved because steppie said she was getting fat… when she was just growing.
    Her stepsister were encouraged to treat her badly and the story of Cinderella comes to mind.
    One Christmas my mother came down to see what was under the tree. There was nothing for her. Nothing with her name on it. Steppie was feeling passive aggressive and waited for my mom to ask why there was no gift for her.
    As my mother said it out loud grandpa asked why there wasn’t a gift for her. Steppie threw a hissy fit and grabbed a gift from under the tree and said here this is for you. My mother smothered her hurt and gratefully accepted the already opened package. Talcum powder. She thanked steppie and moved away….just then one of her half sisters said ‘That’s mine, give it to me!’ and steppie said yes it is her’s give it to her. Steppie smirked at my mother’s obvious pain.
    My mother handed it over and quietly went up the stairs to the room they shared and wept. She said never again did she ever expect anything at Christmas. And good old steppie never failed to repeat the process.
    Mom swore she would get out as soon as possible…and at seventeen she meet my dad, got pregnant and married.
    Oh dear! From the frying pan to the fire…because between my dads 60 year abuse and that of his mother (a super bitch) and my grandfather (a wife beating, child molesting, drunken whoremaster.). and her jealous sisters in law.she remained in the cycle of abuse her entire life.
    And everything that was done to her (and this is the edited version) she did to me from the age of 13.
    I tell you I can smell a passive aggressive a mile away…but I have never and I mean never allowed anyone to hit me since I left home at 18.
    Cause yes, I got pregnant and I got married. It’s what you did.
    Ain’t history a bitch?

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