2016 was one of those years; you know the ones, where you look back and say, “Well, I’m glad that’s over!” I used to say that it was a tough year, or a bad year, or some other negative adjective to describe the pain, anguish, or loss experienced. In fact, just today, I described 2016 in exactly that way. Now, as I reflect on the year, and what has transpired, I find I need to revise my list, and how I look back.
In order to provide some context for this post, let me tell you a story. I was in a personal and business development training program for rapid results. Part of this path is learning what roadblocks you are constructing and allowing to detour or stop you. The trainer asked “Who was the person who you had the most trouble getting along with when you were young?” Of course, the answer was in my mind in a nano-second. It was my Mom. The trainer then told us that this person was the person who had the most to teach us, and who we should be grateful to for the lessons we learned.
Of course, my immediate response was “Nope, you have to be mistaken!” (Actually, this is not what I said, and the abbreviation is NFW!) Roadblock immediately dropped right in the middle of my path. I talked, I questioned, I prayed about this. There had to be another answer. There HAD to be a different person, a kinder teacher. “Are you sure it wasn’t my Grandpa?” All of the “what abouts” came up out of the dark and into my mind during the days, and even in my sleep. What was this deep lesson that I needed to learn? I could not be open to more pain, more rejection, more let down. I WOULD NOT go through all of that again.
So, I went back to the trainer. She is also a highly trained and experienced hypnotherapist. I asked for a personal session to get to the bottom of this. Think of it as a guided meditation with someone who can lead you through your mind to help you find answers to questions you didn’t realize you had. I told her my dilemma. I could not get past this. I needed insight and help. I knew that this was what had been holding me back, allowing the excuses, lowering my own internal expectations. My subconscious was working against me. If this was true, I needed to know how and why; and I needed to know now.
My trainer was right. The more time passes, the more life unfolds, the more I see it. No, we didn’t get along. But I did learn from her. I can CHOOSE what lessons to accept and absorb, and which ones to examine, and reject or shelve for a later time, in case something comes along that makes them useful. I am THANKFUL for the ability to be the Observer, to assign any feeling to thoughts that I choose. I can choose to be the evaluator, to let the pain drop, to let go of the bag of past hurt, to learn the lessons and grow.
What did Mom have to teach me that I am now thankful for?
- Faith in God, unbending, unshaken, unapologetic.
- A demonstrated belief that life never gives us more than we can handle if we keep on moving through it with Faith.
- Hold your head up. You may be a woman, but you are smart, can work hard, and with determination, can accomplish anything.
- Family is important, but if they aren’t on your side, it is ok to not spend time with them.
- Don’t let the arrows of other peoples’ opinions kill you.
- If you don’t know the way, learn to read the map.
- Sometimes life sucks; realize this, make a new plan and move forward.
What else did I learn?
- Independence – you want it, you find a way to get it.
- Responsibility – you get to take care of your sisters now (times were different, but I was 12, and at the time had 3 younger sisters and as a single Mom, she worked nights, so I was now the unpaid sitter). Looking back, we all paid the price of this decision.
- Work ethic – everyone had jobs; babysitting, housekeeping, working at a local grocery store, working on the neighbor’s farm. This was in addition to chores – both were expected, as were good grades, good manners, and contributing to the family financially. My sisters paid for their own braces, while still in high school. Part of the money we earned working went into the family kitty, part went to savings. The remaining 50% was ours to use, for clothes, shoes, coats, even school book fees.
It is still difficult to not be bitter. How would my life be different if ….
THE BIGGEST LESSON OF ALL????
You are the woman you are today because of all you have learned, survived, thrived, groaned and grown through!!!!
Without each of these challenges, the blisters, the pain, and the tears, you would not have the empathy, the heart, the courage, the LOVE to give to the people you meet, to yourself, and to your family. So, today, I am thankful for all of the lessons Mom taught me. How to bake great biscuits, how to make home-fried donuts, how to sew, how to grow a garden, how to start over, how to survive and thrive on a budget, why material things don’t matter, but people do.
One year for the local Apple Festival Parade, Mom decided that our girl scout troup should dress up as clowns and perform during the parade. We looked hilarious, and everyone really got into the act. We had fun, and the people watching us had fun. I’m glad that even during hard times, she found ways for us to laugh, to build memories.
Mom died at the very young age of 49. I was a young wife and mother, 29 years old with two daughters of my own. Mom had remarried after her divorce from my dad, and had two more daughters who were still at home when she died. Her second husband had died years earlier from cancer, so Mom had remarried again, this time not chosen well, and was divorced as she was fighting cancer. This meant that my two young sisters were facing the loss of their only parent.
Shortly after she died, she taught me one more lesson. If a doctor came to me and told me I had six months left to live, how would I spend my time? In the time span of just 13 months, I lost my mother, divorced my husband, and lost my maternal grandmother.
Every day counts. What you think about grows. I could choose to mourn what I had lost, what I never had, the needs that went unnoticed and unmet. I could choose to water the grief, pain, bitterness, and loss, or I could water the hope, faith, love and a better future on the horizon. Most days I make the right choice, some days, I don’t water at all. But I encourage my fellow travellers to reflect, redirect, and choose wisely.
The losses we suffered this year are still fresh; the tears still well up and spill over. We have to remember that there are people here who need us to love them, engage with them, and be an example for them.
Thank you Mom! I love you, I forgive you, and I forgive myself for taking this long to realize it.
This post has been simmering in the back of my mind for many weeks. It took a lot of resistance wrestling to let it come out. I hope you gain something from it. Blessings on your journey to find your truth and your lessons. I promise next week will be more upbeat!
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