I lost my mother when I was 10 years old. No, she didn’t pass away or run away, leaving me behind. She fell into the arms of alcoholism. My beautiful loving caring mother lost herself thinking she had found a friend, something that could help her to forget the pain she was suffering and help her deal with the guilt she was carrying. (In respect of her I will refrain from going into details about her life and behavior). She had an inability to face problems without the help of the thing that she felt made the same problems go away.
I came to hate her — a word I never use in my vocabulary for the sheer nature of its ugliness and negativity. At 10 years old, I had no other way to describe how seeing my mother incapacitated, while seemingly having a great time, affected me. I became engulfed in guilt, shame, loneliness and confusion. Lying about her and covering up for her became the norm.
Back then, there was no counseling, talk therapy, support or recognition that she was ill. Her family saw her as a source of entertainment when she acted out when intoxicated. What I saw was my source of love, security, laughter, nurturing, comfort and safety disappear into a place that I didn’t know, a place where she wasn’t able to recognize me as her child.
As her eldest, she became dependent on me to hold things together. You can only imagine what that looked and felt like to a 10-year-old girl. I resented her, loathed her and loved her with all of my heart and wanted her back. Ignorance being what it is, I was told on many occasions by my family that I was going to end up just like her. The reasoning behind these comments to this day remains a mystery to me.
At the age of 16 I allowed myself to walk away and leave a place that caused me so much pain. I know that my mother cried often and asked people where I was. I was too deeply embedded in the negativity of it all to even consider that she did actually love and miss me.
The last time I saw her alive was two years later. She was in an alcohol unit in a small hospital and obviously quite ill at this stage. I recall her looking at me and calling me someone else’s name — my mother didn’t recognize me. In the depth of the sadness that I was already feeling before I saw her, I walked away and never went back. I didn’t go to her funeral. I now realize that I was also too far gone in my own ideas, perceptions, disappointments and frustrations with her family to grieve for the mother I lost.
I completely agree with the concept that time heals. It truly does. I bring this forward due to a couple of recent extraordinary serendipitous situations I found myself in that were the beginnings of my new relationship with my mother — yes, she was long gone, but my faith was restored. I was (and still am) on my path of spirituality and learning. I was reading a plethora of different literature about self growth, empowerment, walking the path, opening my heart. I was particularly interested at this time in the Goddess movement.
A powerful and beautiful way to look at ourselves as women is through the eyes of these fascinating symbols of strength. I was book shopping one day and came across something that jumped out at me, a title that caught my eye: Goddesses For Every Season. It was a book I could work with on a daily basis to further my learning and growth.
Upon picking it up, I froze on the spot as the name of the author is Nancy Blair! Yes, Nancy Blair was my mother’s name. The author is an American woman, a well-respected writer and glass artist — with absolutely no connection to my mother.
Something shifted in me. There might not be words to describe how I felt. I read this as being my mother’s way of telling me she loved me. I felt as though a heavy weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was in a much better position myself, having worked on my past and allowing to let it go. Working in mental health allowed me the opportunity to better understand addictions and the importance of respecting my own mental health and that of others.
I didn’t care if people thought I was a bit crazy, maybe reading too much into this. It didn’t matter. I knew in my own heart that I was being given an opportunity to finally release anything negative that still remained in my psyche associated with my mother. Life looked and felt different. I found that having compassion is actually a healthy way forward in this precious life that we have.
One year later, all is well in my world. I continue to have nothing but admiration for the woman who brought me into this world. I travel to Australia to stay with friends in Sydney. I do silent meditation in the Blue Mountains. I know my life is blessed. I have always had an interest in Aboriginal Dreamtime art. I was advised to visit the Aboriginal History Museum before I left. I did. I was very drawn to a beautiful small painting for sale, picked it up and turned it over to see the name of the artist. The name Nancy Campbell was before me. Yes, Campbell was my mother’s maiden name. The art was done by a woman from from the Anmatyerre Tribe in the Northern Territory.
Skeptics and cynics would find reasoning for these events, but I felt no need to question what had happened. I was reassured that indeed my mother loved me and that forgiveness is the beginning and not the end.
This is a very difficult subject to bring to the table. Everybody who has felt the need to say, “I will never forgive,” for bad things that have happened to them have a right to do so. Being released from these emotions through having an open heart and, if necessary, finding appropriate help is the pathway to living life in peace, to being free of pain, and to being happy. Allow yourself the opportunity to at least consider how forgiveness could change your own life.