I’ve been quiet of late because I’ve been reflective of late. I did something that scared me very much recently. I sent my father a letter. It was a confrontation letter, and it was a line in the sand. And even though he hasn’t put his hands on me in fifteen years, I was still sick with terror until days after I knew he had received it.
I also faced another fear with that letter. The fear that my mother would stop loving me if I sent it. Because of what I experienced growing up, I’ve always had a very twisted understanding of relationships – even with the woman who raised me, loved me, and supported me through it all. For years after I moved out of my parents’ house, I still took the brunt of my father onto myself because I carried the fear that if I wasn’t around, he’d take it out on my mom or my brother. It was silly, as it seems that only I am worthy of such vitriol from him, but it was a very real fear. That fear then translated into fearing that my mother would stop loving me if I refused to continue the status quo.
It still surprised me when, instead of hearing from my father, I received a text message from my mom asking if I wanted to talk about my letter. I was nearly physically ill – in part because I just knew that they would yell at me and I would have to hang up the phone, but also because the letter addressed to and specifically speaking to my father was answered…by my mom. She has shown me that she stands by him, despite everything. I’m too old to ask her to leave him. She has chosen to love him and seems happy enough with him. I try to say that it doesn’t hurt, that she has never once spoken up when he was tearing me down or, more recently, my husband. I’m trying to not be angry.
But at the end of the day, I have to admit these things. I have to make myself say them out loud. Because until I accept these feelings, I cannot let them go. I don’t know what our relationship will be going forward. It hasn’t been much of a relationship since I had the audacity to move away. I realize now that it has always fallen on me to make a relationship with her happen. And accepting it, I can let go of guilt. Maybe, by accepting that I am angry with her and hurt by her actions, I can genuinely forgive her and move forward.
One of the hardest lessons of my faith in recent years – since Manannan has come roaring into my life with all His glory – is that I must let go of things. That I must confront the past that has so damaged me so that I can set the past aside and move forward into the person that I am meant to be. My Lord has made it clear to me for quite some time that He is no gentle grandfather to pat my head and tell me that everything will be okay. He is a God that creates change and if I am to walk hand in hand with Him, it will be a treacherous path. I don’t have to follow this path, I can settle for a more gentle path. But there is a price for that path that must be paid, as there is with the one I currently walk. While the price has been painful for this path, that which I gain will be worth it. How do I know? Because I trust Him, and Big Sister who is occasionally the Forge which Manannan is shaping me upon.
There may not be glory at the end of this path, or recognition. I may find myself at the end of my days with nothing to show for it but the love of my husband and the friends that I make along the way. But I will find myself there without fear, with scars healed and faded rather than wounds still gaping. That, in itself, is reason enough to follow this path. Because I have walked for too many years with open wounds hidden poorly behind a mask that affected every relationship that I have developed during that time. And the woman beneath that mask is worthy of being known. She is loving and kind and sometimes even wise. She is also strong and fierce and determined. The better I get to know her, the more I like her, and the more easily I can say that I love myself. That is a miracle.