“There is no bridge that crosses the sea of sadness separating me and my mother. To this day the woman in those faded black-and-white photographs seems like a stranger. I carry a deep sorrow about what my mom and I never had.” – Jim Palmer
This is Rob, Susan’s husband. When I read this from Jim Palmer it resonated with my heart. Neither of my parents are alive, and my relationship with my Dad was especially difficult and distant. I wanted to share Jim’s entire comment with you today just in case this was a tough Mother’s Day for you…
Neither my mother or father are alive, and I’m typically quite conflicted about the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day holidays. I had a turbulent, painful, and estranged relationship with my mother, which I wrote extensively about in Divine Nobodies. I’m guessing there are others who woke up this morning with a heavy heart either because of the mother you lost and miss, or the mother you are not close to because of a lifetime of wounds and scars.
This is the day we say, “Happy Mother’s Day!” But maybe it’s not so “happy” for you. Perhaps you’re one of those people who will play the charade of giving a gift, sending a card or making a phone call out of obligation or guilt. Maybe you carry deep heartache from your relationship (or lack thereof) with your mother. Perhaps you’ve suffered from the disapproval, rejection, absence or abandonment of your mom. Maybe you will try to drum up some positive demeanor toward your mom on Mother’s Day even though you really feel nothing at all.
There is no bridge that crosses the sea of sadness separating me and my mother. To this day the woman in those faded black-and-white photographs seems like a stranger. I carry a deep sorrow about what my mom and I never had. As I wrote in Divine Nobodies, “Some memories you carry around inside you like pieces of broken glass.”
In more recent years I’ve come to understand the sorrows and heartaches of my mother’s life that I was born into. No little girl says: “When I grow up, I want to be a mother who hurts and wounds my children. I want to reject them, abuse them, abandon them and damage them for life.” The truth is that damaged, wounded and hurt people often damage, wound and hurt others. That’s not an excuse, but it means any child could have been inserted into my place, and the damage, wounds and hurts would have still happened.
In other words, it wasn’t me.
These understandings have created feelings of compassion inside my heart for my mom. “Healing” for me has meant releasing myself from the false messages I adopted about myself as a result of the hurt experienced with my mom. “Healing” may not mean your relationship with your mother is fixed, restored, resolved or gets any better. Instead, “healing” may mean realizing that this fact is not preventing you from being at peace and free right now.
Frederick Buechner wrote, “Even the saddest things can become, once we have made peace with them, a source of wisdom and strength for the journey that still lies ahead.”