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Monthly Archives: December 2008

Never have I been so glad to see an old year end, and a new one begin. Never have I felt such sadness over the past, and such joy over the future. Never have I been so hurt, or felt so happy.

Is it possible for all these feelings to coexist? Certainly.

How wonderful that we can start fresh every year, and that hope springs eternal.  For if it did not, what would be the point of going on? Hope is what propels us into the future, leaving the past behind as an ever fading memory. (Sometimes it doesn’t fade fast enough, does it?) Other times, it flys like a shooting star, when we would wish to linger.

Hope is an anchor and the foundation of faith. Faith believes that something good will happen, that somehow things will be better, and that we will understand the things that have eluded us thus far.

With every year, no matter how painful or joyful, we are different. We are changed by our experiences. Perhaps at times we wish for our youth once again, but given the chance, most of us would not really want to go back. For we have the rich experiences of our life, that have made us who we are. And good or bad, they have brought us to this time and place.

And as yesterday’s song said, “The river’s gonna keep on rollin’ on.” And we’re gonna keep on rollin’ with it, for the alternative is to die, or to become stagnant, like a river with no outlet.

Regardless of our sorrow, life is rich–full of revelations, insight, and lessons. Some of those lessons we would not have chosen to learn, but even those have increased our understanding, and hopefully our compassion for others.  The more we endure, the more we know that there are not always black and white answers to every problem, or solutions to every puzzle. Sometimes the pieces just don’t fit, no matter how we try to arrange them. Sometimes life comes out gray, as the light and darkness merge.

But sometimes it is a kaleidoscope of rainbow colors, and for a moment we smile through the tears, and laugh through the pain. And then life is very good.

But even when it is not always good, life is always precious. Every day that we breathe is a chance to learn something new, to love someone more, and to know God more intimately. For by partaking in His sufferings, we grow closer to Him, and we understand a little more.

Even though at times we would like to run away and hide, no man is an island, and we need each other to find our way. Sometimes we just need someone to listen, and how much more wonderful if they can say, “I understand.”  We long to be understood.  Deep calls unto deep.

The older I get, the more I cherish each individual day, for truly we are promised no more than that. We have this moment, and it is to be cherished. It’s not about tomorrow, or yesterday–it’s about now.  No more saving things for a rainy day–material things should be used and enjoyed now. No more waiting to let someone know how much I love them. It’s important to tell them now, for I may never get another chance. No more grieving as one who has no hope, but grieving as one who knows tomorrow will be brighter, though today may be sorrowful.

I want to see the sun rise,  and I want to see it set.  I want to look at the stars and the moon, and the night sky in all its vastness. I want to feel the wind, the rain, and the warmth of the sun. I want to breathe deeper, laugh louder, cry harder, pray longer. I want to live more than I have ever wanted to live before.

It is not too late for me, and it is not too late for you. We are not here to just exist–we are hear to live life in its fullness. With God’s help and direction, we can find happiness, and more than that– joy, which remains when happiness seems transient. Joy abides deep within. The life force is strong. Can you feel it?  No matter how you have suffered, tomorow is a new day. You will always have a second chance, as long as the sun comes up, and you do not give up.

I wish I could impart my faith to you, and my hope of what each new day can bring. For just as surely as there will be sorrows beyond what we have ever known, there will also be joy beyond our understanding. Life awaits us, and there is much to learn, to experience, and to ponder.

I wish for you a “new” New Year, full of expectation and wonder. Most of all, I hope you grow, and your understanding is increased, and that some of your questions are answered. But may many be left unanswered, so that you will forever be moving in the direction of Truth.

May you feel the presence of God as never before, and may you be thankful for each moment…

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It’s strange-our last night at the ocean, I got the only negative comment that I’ve received (on my blog) since I shared my hurtful journey with my mom and brother. For just a moment it stung…but then, I could tell that I was much stronger, because I knew in my heart, that I was at peace with my decision. (And also at peace with God.) I have no regrets, and I know (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that I was going to die, if I kept on as I was.

Isn’t it interesting that so many times in our lives, others try and tell us how to live? But they are not here, dealing with the things we’ve dealt with. They have no idea what life is like for us. And yet they think they have all the answers. I am learning that people like that are poisonous. They have no compassion, no ability to empathize.

Isn’t it amazing the power that words have? And the people who use them as weapons, like to pierce you with their daggers. And yet, as my husband says-they are just words. But that is not to say that they do not hurt. They certainly do. And hateful people are well aware of what they are doing. How very empty and angry their lives must be. They are the tragic ones.

Now that I am home, I am determined to stay at peace. Even though I am back to my full time career (it seems) of packing and unpacking things. Moving in and out of our coffeehouse, moving my daughter out of her room, moving my mother in and out of assisted living, and constantly packing and unpacking for various other reasons. (A couple of years ago our house flooded in a construction accident, and we still haven’t fully recovered from that.)  There is so much work needed on our home. Right now the decks are torn down, but not replaced. (Please…don’t anyone walk out a glass sliding door, from the top floor. It might be your last hurrah! LOL!)

For now, I’m unpacking… Laughing about the sand that is still in my shoes, from walking on the beach… Finding a pretty container for the shells that we collected…Trying to find a place for all the things that are in the suitcases and boxes in my living room…Delighted to be back in my own bed.

I am going to start a scrapbook of my life from this moment on, because I believe that the best is yet to be. I will capture some of the moments-not necessarily in photographs, but in cut-outs, menus, and memories. I truly feel like my life has just begun-(in the sense of true happiness and the freedom to be me.)

The writer of the hateful message was wrong.  I am not a victim-I am a victor.  It is not wrong to grieve your past, and to feel the pain of hurtful words and actions. It is not wrong to mourn what never was, and never will be.  It is a way to understand and to heal.  It is a process, and it has to be dealt with, or it will forever haunt me. I write about it as part of my healing. And make no mistake, I am grieving. But I am also looking forward (with anticipation) to life, love, and joy. There will be many moments no doubt, when I will glance in the rearview mirror, but I will not stay there.  I will move on, with faith and hope in my heart.  And I will become the person God meant me to be, and even because of my sorrow, I will be a more compassionate  and loving person.

That peace dwells within me. The peace that only God can give. As the song says, “The world didn’t give it, and the world can’t take it away.”

Yes, people will always have their opinions-their cruel words, their lack of compassion and understanding. But that will never shake the peace that comes from within. I am becoming my own person. I am learning to trust the peace that I have found with God–“your God” as this person kept calling Him, so I know that she, sadly, does not know His wonderful love and mercy.  Yes, He is my God and my Beloved.  I trust His voice, and His peace.

    I Like this quote I dislike this quoteTo be at one with God is to be at peace … peace is to be found only within, and unless one finds it there, he will never find it at all. Peace lies not in the external world. It lies within one’s own soul.

 Ralph Waldo Trine

There is no greater gift than to have peace within…To be able to say (no matter what the circumstance), “It is well with my soul…”

Never have I been on vacation anywhere that was as relaxing as this trip.  (And never have I needed to relax as much as now.)

Some of my favorite memories of this time away are:

The sound of the surf through the open back door 

The beautiful ocean view, just yards from our beach house

Walking on the beach

Sitting on the back deck, feeling the sea-breeze and the gentle December afternoon sun

Decorating a small tree in traditional colors of red and green

Reading every night in a big overstuffed chair

Burning scented candles every evening

Simple, quick delicious meals that always tasted great

Snuggling warmly under the covers, on cold nights

Kissing to “Blue Christmas”

Listening to Anne Murray’s wonderful Christmas CD while we opened our presents

Playing “Christmas In Dixie”  by Alabama at midnight on Chritmas Eve (while in my husband’s arms)

Eating at Lambert’s (Home of The Throwed Rolls) (Yes, they actually throw the rolls to you.)

Eating Christmas Dinner in the Marriott Ballroom, and drinking egg nog

Riding the tram to the restaurant

Seeing a horse drawn sleigh with red velvet seats and a coachman with a top hat

Hearing the bells on the sleigh, and the clip clop of the horse’s feet

Riding around the beautiful little town of Fairhope

Shopping at Olde Time Pottery and Tuesday Morning

The sound of the ocean as I fell asleep every night

It was the most lovely Christmas I’ve ever had, and I could feel the stress of the previous days just melt away, day by day. It’s the only Christmas in a long time, that I haven’t been sick from exhaustion, from preparing for our family Christmas party-cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping presents, etc.

This is the way Christmas should be. A time to love, to reflect, to relax, to appreciate God’s goodness, and to remember the true meaning of the season. (It’s been a special time of healing for me.) We may do this every year.

Did I say how happy I’ve been? LOL! Now if I can just take this feeling home with me, and never let it go…

Tonight we went to a place called “Lamberts-Home of The Throwed Rolls.” Yes, you heard me right. They say “throwed rolls” instead of “thrown rolls.” Imagine my surprise when we were seated, and a young man two rows over from me threw a roll at me!  Wouldn’t you know it? It landed right between my legs! (Thank goodness I was wearing slacks.) The next roll he threw hit me in the chest. (Great aim, huh?) Anyway, they throw the rolls with gloved hands. But some of them land on the floor.

After you order off the menu, they come to your table with great big pans of what they call “pass arounds”. These are items like fried okra, home fried potatoes, and field peas. By the time you’ve eaten all this, you wish you hadn’t ordered off the menu!  My husband said it was the only place that he’s ever been where he couldn’t eat all the food. There was just too much! And it was good!!!!

Meanwhile, rolls are flying all over the place, but I noticed that most of the guys were throwing them underhanded, close to the tables they were serving. My waiter (or pitcher) threw me overhanded fastballs, from across the room LOL! And they were hot rolls when they landed! (Don’t know how they keep them so hot!) Anyway, what a wild place!

(It was quite a different experience, and one I am not likely to forget anytime soon.)

Then I shopped a little at Old Time Pottery, while my husband got us some groceries to take back to the beach house. It was so much fun to check out, and then go put my feet up at a snack area, and drink a coke and relax (while the rest of the world was going crazy.) Never have I had such a peaceful Christmas. We will be staying cozy for the next couple of days, except for Christmas dinner out.

I had some unexpected freelance assignments that came in just before Christmas, and I’ve been working on them for 2 days. I couldn’t turn them down, because they were the first offers that I’ve received from this company.  But at any rate, they’re finished now, and I plan to rest and sit in my cozy chair for the next 4 days. We will be returning home on Sunday, so we still have quite a bit of time. Tomorrow we’ll take a walk on the beach. (We are right on the ocean, and the view is out of this world.) It was very cold the past few days, so it has really felt like Christmas.

I feel so very blessed to be able to do this, and we may make it a tradition. It’s time for us to make new Christmas memories. I hope wherever you are tonight, that you will focus on happy memories of Christmas past, and look with expectation toward a bright future. Every day is a miracle, and you never know what’s just around the corner. God is faithful, and you are always on His mind. Merry Christmas Everyone! Sparkle

When you live in NW Florida, chances are you won’t have a white Christmas. But there is something white that we are famous for. (Our beautiful white sand beaches.) I am about 2 1/2 hours away from home at Gulf Shores–a gorgeous community where my husband brought me for Christmas. We are on the ocean, and when I look out the window and down the coast, it looks just like snow. (Bet you couldn’t tell the difference if I sent you a picture.)

The weather is cold, and I’m glad. I like it cold for Christmas. I decorated our tree tonight, and also had fun making some Christmas gift bags to go under our tree. Lots of sparkle…(well, of course.)

Today we stayed in, and had a breakfast for supper, and then played Christmas carols while I decorated the tree. This is going to be my favorite Christmas ever. For once, I didn’t have to host the family Christmas get-together, clean house, cook, wrap presents and shop endlessly, etc. I only had my husband to buy for this year, since I am estranged from my family. Chelsea is in England, visiting her birth mom.  So at our house no one is “home for Christmas.” LOL! Seriously, this is the most peaceful Christmas that I have ever had, and we may go away every year. We lit candles tonight, while I decorated. One of my favorites is Yankee Candle’s Mistletoe. It actually smells more like a Christmas tree than a Christmas tree! But I believe they retired it last year, so I probably will only find it on Ebay in years to come. I also had a terrific cinnamon candle, and a peppermint one. All the fragrances of Christmas filled our lovely beach house.

It is so nice to slow down. Since my dad died 3 1/2 years ago, and I became the primary caregiver for my mom, I have been on the go every minute. I never slowed down, or seemed to have a moment to call my own. I was on edge every minute, wondering when the next crisis call would come (and believe me, there have been many.) My nervous system was whacked. I knew that I was going to have to slow down, or die. I am very serious about that. My physical health was going downhill, as well as my mental health. I was trying too hard to please. Now, I am on the road to recovery, and I want to take better care of myself. I want to do some things that bring me  joy and happiness, and I want to spend some time with my husband. We both are worn out, stressed out, and just plain tired. But this is the beginning of real change in our lives, I pray. 

I am healing little by little from the hurt that my family has caused, and I know that in time I will be healed, and in a much better place in my life. I am learning to let go of the things that I can’t change, and to surround myself with people who will encourage me and build me up, instead of tearing me down.

I need to spend time alone, and time with God as well. I just need to slow down, and as they say “smell the roses.”

This has been the roughest time in my life–taking the very best care that I could of my mother, and then realizing that she is never going to approve of me or ever love me unconditionally. I finally had enough, and I only wish that I had seen the truth sooner. But I am sure that the timing was for a reason, and I will never regret taking care of her, and loving her to the best of my ability. But I can’t do anymore, and she and my brother have shown me the darkness that is in their souls, and I have had more than enough of it.

So here’s to the light, and all things joyful, peaceful, and lovely. Here’s to a beautiful holiday, and a truly “new” New Year. And yes, here’s to a “White Christmas…”

Writing to a friend tonight, about the grief that he is experiencing over the recent loss of his loving mother, I pondered the experience of grief, and what it means. This is what I wrote:

“Grief is both universal and solitary. No one has the exact same loss, or the exact same way of dealing with grief, and yet there are parts that can be shared and understood.

When you are grieving, every emotion is normal and understandable. Perhaps it is the closest feeling to insanity there is. (And complicated by a sometimes too calm demeanor in public.)

But it is true…until you have been there, don’t try to tell me you understand, because there is no real understanding, apart from losing one that you love so dearly, or even one who was an important part of your life. There is no finality like the finality of death, and there is no solution to it–no fixing it. It is done, and until we meet in heaven, there is no bandage for the hole in our heart, and the ache in our soul. (Only the hope of being reunited.)

But when there are others who know…who have experienced that pain…there is a fellowship of understanding, that becomes a bond. Hearts ache in familiar ways, and tears fall from unbearable sorrow. And there is the aloneness that only the bereaved can grasp. The feeling that the world is not the same, and will never be again.

There is no way to ever prepare for it, because even when we have done our best, we cannot comprehend the loudness of their absence. It is there at the table, and there in the chair, and on their side of the bed. It is everywhere, and in the most unexpected places as well.

(An envelope with their name on it, a Christmas decoration that was their favorite, a pair of shoes hidden under the bed, a medicine bottle,  a robe left hanging on the door,  a pair of glasses on the desk,  or the scent of  their cologne.) And then there are the places, where their presence cannot be denied, and the remembrances that go with those places. And what about the songs, that are as alive with their memory, as their spoken words were?

Grief is a journey, a process both cruel, and cathartic. And in the end, it is the only road to healing, though never to complete recovery. Loss is not something you “get over”.  It can only be journeyed through, and you will be forever changed by that journey…”

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

I remember one night, walking home from choir practice (not sure what age), when this pervasive sadness overtook me. It was beginning to get dark, and as I walked, I would glance into the nearby houses, and glimpse the families that gathered together inside. Seeing the lights illuminate the interiors made me feel warm. I wondered what their lives were like, and if they were happy. Did laughter fill their homes?

There’s so much I can’t remember, and I find that odd. And yet, there is so much that I do remember. We were always moving, and I would have to change schools, and try and make new friends. It was so exhausting and painful. I was hardly ever in the same school for more than a year, and consequently, I was always “the new kid.” It was nerve-wracking, tinged with horror. Always wondering if I would be accepted, and if I would be able to fit in. Maybe that’s why, today, I never like to walk into a crowded room or get-together alone. It makes me feel uncomfortable, and reminds me of all those times, that I had to make my way into a new classroom, and how lonely I felt.

I once asked my mom why we moved so much, and she said that we were “trying to better ourselves.” Well maybe, but didn’t anyone stop to consider what “bettering ourselves” was doing to me? (No, I think not.)

Just the other night, I mentioned to my husband how fortunate our daughter was, to attend a small Christian school all her life, with virtually the same set of friends all the way through, and knowing most of the teachers. It is the sort of security that I knew nothing about. Believe me, it makes a huge difference in your confidence level, and self-esteem. When I was in grammar school, I compensated for this feeling of uneasiness in new schools, by excelling in my classwork and grades. (But if I remember correctly, anything less than a “A”, might as well have been failing.) Because if I got a “B” my mom said that I should have gotten an “A.” So if an “A” was what she wanted, then I would go back and strive for that. (Perhaps this was the beginning of my perfectionistic tendencies.) I only know that I was always determined not to treat my daughter that way–just to ask that she did her best. (It was a non-issue anyway. My daughter refused to do her homework at all, and this initiated a battle of a different sort.)

I remember being kept so clean (when I lived with my grandmother) that I carried around a newspaper to sit on, if I sat on the grass. To this day, I don’t sit on outdoor surfaces, without some hesitation. LOL! But when I played kickball in the neighborhood, at an older age, I was forever knocking the knees out of my long pants, when I fell down.  (So I guess I overcame my fear of dirt and damage to my clothes.)

Perhaps my fondest memory (which is a little foggy) is of sitting in a little washtub (in my grandmother’s backyard), wearing only a pair of little girl panties, with the warmth of the sun enveloping me, on a hot summer day. After that, I was lovingly taken into the house and dried off (and most likely bathed-lol) before being placed snug and secure in my bed, for an afternoon nap. To  me, this was what being a child meant. Safety and security–feeling loved and cherished. It was an everyday feeling with my grandmother. And my grandfather would come home from work in the evenings, and I would run to meet him, and he would always have juicy fruit gum in his pocket, just for me. Does it get any better?

As good as it was for me, I think it was just that horrible for my mom. She was not happy living at home. She had gotten divorced when I was 2, but the marriage didn’t even really last that long. My dad was in the military, and was overseas a great deal of that time. (I remember finding an old suitcase with their love letters hidden away inside, when I was older. And of couse, my curiosity got the better of me, and I read them.)

But there’s was love by airmail only, and not to be found in reality. Apparently, my dad had started to run around, even before I was born, and he hurt my mom pretty badly. She told me a couple of examples over and over, throughout my life, and it was a real dilemma to feel love for someone who made my mom sad. She said his mother died when he was young, and his sister raised him, and that he was very spoiled. (But she shouldn’t have talked about him this way to me, because it hurt me. Since I looked like him, and even had a variation of his name, I felt like I reminded her of him, whenever she saw me.) And believe me, that could not be a positive thing.

I saw him until the age of 6, and then he disappeared from my life–though he always sent birthday and Christmas presents faithfully. It was strange (and exciting) to get a doll or toy twice a year, from a man a barely knew. I always looked forward to his presents. It was basically all I had of him, except for an inherited nervous giggle just like his, until I was about 10. I remember that I had not seen him for about 4 years,  and I wrote a letter telling him that I wanted to know him. And to his credit, he visited. It’s so funny–he had just remarried, and those were the days when frosted hair was in. When I saw his new bride, I thought she was an old lady, because she had what I perceived as grey hair. How funny, because in reality, she was 10 years younger than him.

On the homefront, my stepfather and I did not get along. He was very strict, and used to measure the length of my dresses every morning (before school) by the “dangerous freckle” just above my knee. Anything above the freckle was too short, and I would have to immediately change. This was in the day of the first ever mini-skirts. He was an imposing man-(6 ‘4″) and to be honest, for many years I was deathly afraid of him. Back then he had quite a temper, and we did not see eye to eye on most anything, even though I was an extremely compliant child (in general.)  (Perhaps the greatest miracle in my life, was the healing that occurred between us, when I was an adult. We came to love each other very much.)

Part of the feeling was resentment. I wanted a mother.  I needed a mother. My mom had taken me away from the only real family that I had ever known, and I kept telling myself (as a little girl) that at least I would finally get to know her, and spend some time with her. (But it was not to be.) Two men were already in her life, when I arrived in Atlanta, and she was trying to decide which one she would marry.  Her stated goal had been that she was going to Atlanta “to find a husband.”

She also always told me, that if she didn’t get me away from my grandparents, that I would never realize that she was my mother. But it makes me wonder why did she wait so long? (My parents divorced when I was two, and we then moved in with my grandparents.) And if that was in fact true, then why didn’t she spend some time with just me for awhile, nurturing me, and mothering me? ( I believe that she just didn’t have it in her.) She always made me feel horrible if I was anything less than estatic about her relationship with Sam, (who she soon married), calling me jealous, and as I said in yesterday’s post, and threatening to kill herself, if I did not get along with him. (See the details of that lovely blackmail scene in yesterday’s post.) She would say things like, “You’d be jealous of your own child.”

I know now that what I was feeling was perfectly normal. (I wanted a mother, and it wasn’t wrong. I had lost all the people that made me feel secure, and now there was a man in my life, that I did not know. I probably wasn’t even 7 yet.)

Such a rocky beginning is not exactly inducive to a warm relationship. Deep down, I think Sam and I loved each other (as best we could), but there was definitely resentment going both ways. It was stormy and wild at times, and of course, my mom blamed it all on me–because I was to blame for everything. (Apparently for even wanting a mother.)

My brother came along when I was 8, and I loved him (as they say, “to the moon and back.”) I proudly declared, “Now we’re a family”, when they called to tell me he’d been born. (Though I do remember that my mother was not happy about the pregnancy, and she let me know it.) It didn’t matter–I was estatic enough for all of us.  He was a gorgeous baby, and I was so happy that he was in our lives. Of course,  once he was here, my mom loved him very much, and dressed him in the cutest little Buster Brown outfits.

However, whenever my mother would talk about my birth, she would always speak about it in the most horrifying way. She explained that her doctor believed in his  expectant mothers not having pain medication, so that they could “feel closer to their babies.”  (Oh, please. It sure didn’t work for us.) She said the pregnancy and the delivery were pretty much hell on earth, and she never let me forget it. (That is the reason that I never had a child through childbirth. She had frightened me to death, speaking of it as such a terrible ordeal.) At least by the time she had my brother, she was given pain relief, and had happy memories of his birth.)

My mom and step-dad would argue at times, and he would even get angry when the baby cried, and once he struck him. This made my mom furious, and they would also argue about that. I remember going to a nearby park, and shooting baskets until dark. I was quite a loner at times, because of all the moves we had made. But it was easy to entertain myself, and I also loved to read. Books were my great escape, and a treasure to me always.

I was a nervous child, and looking back, I had some unusual physical maladies.  It seems that I can remember being made to stand in the corner, for nervously fidgeting with my upper lip, which had become a continuous, uncontrollable habit.  Another time, I developed continual belching, and had to sip on Mylanta constantly.  I remember feeling sad a lot, but trying to cope as well as I could. These are not normal occurences, and they lead me to believe that my nervous system was under attack.

My mother worked hard outside the home all of her life, and I  had to go to child care after school, the year before my brother was born. Then later, there was a housekeeper (not as in rich, because we weren’t-more like a babysitter for my brother.) She did a little housecleaning, and ironing also, I think (as they often did in those days.)

But I never experienced a mom there for me after school, waiting to hear about my day. I’m sure many children didn’t, but along with this, there was no real warmth. I called her “Betty” instead of momma or mom. She never taught me any differently. This seems strange to me, because a mother shouldn’t have any problem getting her child to call her “momma” if she so desires.  She said it was because everyone in the household called her “Betty”,  so I did also. But I find it very unusual.

 She did take me shopping, and out for lunch at the department stores.  (I always looked nice.) But I don’t remember the hugs, or any emotional support whatsoever. (And this is where it gets hazy.) She just always seemed angry if I was sad for any reason. (But I remember she was depressed a lot.)

My step-dad’s three boys came to live with us for awhile, but they were like kids from the jungle. They were wild, with few manners (because of a very difficult upbringing), and they did not last with us for long. As you can imagine, I felt totally invaded, and could not believe this was happening. It was just too difficult for everyone (them included), and so they returned home.

As a teenager, Sam and I fought about everything. He read my diary, spied on me, and screened my phone calls. It was like living with a private detective, and it never got any better. And sometimes my parents would fight about disciplining me, though I really did not cause all that much trouble. (Sam even told me as much later. He said that after having Tony (my brother), he realized that I was an easy child to raise.) It’s just that I never could seem to please them, even though I really, really tried. By the time I married my first husband at 17, all I could think about was getting away from there.

Other than when I lived with my grandparents, I don’t think I was ever allowed to be a child. It seems that I had to contend with grown-up issues, living in a house with a man that I was afraid of, and a mother that I called by her first name.

My life did not improve–it grew much worse, for the most part. All those schools, few friends because of the constant moves, and a miserable home life. 

I was a little girl lost.  I needed to be held and kissed. I needed to be comforted, and loved.  I needed someone to be wild about me. I needed to be in my mother’s arms and thoughts. I just needed her…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

All my life, I knew something was wrong. My mother never nurtured me, held me, or comforted me, that I could remember. Oh yes, we always gave each other the perfunctory hug, as a greeting or a good-bye, but it had no real warmth or closeness. She had no empathy for what I was going through, ever. I remember one day, as a teenager, I was in my bedroom crying quietly. With an angry tone she inquired, “What are you crying about this time–some boy?”

I explained to her that I was crying because my best friend, Jennifer, was moving away. From the time I started school, we had moved from place to place, and until I reached my sophomore year of high school, I don’t think I’d ever been in one school for more than a year. So friends were important to me, and losing this one was painful. But as usual, she had no compassion, and just dismissed it casually–no, not casually–coldly.

Aren’t mothers supposed to mother? And if so, what is wrong with me that my mother didn’t show me a maternal love?  (I have come to find out, that it was something very wrong deep inside her heart, and it wasn’t me.)

Recently, I wrote her a letter, and said that I always felt like I was the mother. Later, my husband asked me what I meant by that. It was difficult to put into words, but it was the truth.  Then I found a wonderful book, “Will  I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing The Daughters Of Narcissistic Mothers.”  It was written by Karyl McBride, Ph.D. The minute I read the title, I knew that I had to have it. And yes, it put into words all the things that I knew were true for so many years. And I realized that in order to be healed, I would have to understand why this woman, (who never encouraged me to call her mom or momma, so I called her by her first name) did not mother me.

It’s interesting-a fellow blogger friend was recalling all the wonderful details of the love and affection that his mother had shown him through the years. She had recently died, and he was remembering so many of the things that made her so special to him. And part of that, I could tell was that she made him feel so special. She kissed him and hugged him, whenever she saw him. (Not an obligatory hug, but a heartfelt, loving welcome.) She let him know that he was a treasure to her. I told him that I was deeply touched by his memories of their relationship, and yet at the same time, saddened. I felt that we were going through the grieving process together, but for very different reasons.

I wrote to him:

Wow Frank:

For very different reasons, we are both going through a similar journey. I also make motions, but my heart is far from the reality. I am questioning many things–my past, my childhood, my entire existence, really. Trying to make some sense of it, in a way that doesn’t completely invalidate all of it. But I find upon reflection, that I was genuine always, in the midst of great heartbreak. More sensitive than this world can accommodate, experiencing deep sorrow, as well as great joy.
But always genuine…

Perhaps indeed, this may be the greatest time of both of our lives. I am not ready to die–there is so much more to be experienced and savoured. More to understand, more knowledge to gain, more love to give and receive. Perhaps it was required that we each walk this road, to find the revelation that lies around the bend. I approach the bend in the road, with great expectations, as I hope you soon will also.

Always, Sparkle

And he answered:

Sparkle,

You and I are both grieving for the same character-Mine passed away and you need yours to be removed from you……..in a way that is also death. In effect, we are both grieving. When I read some of your words, I got confused because I couldn’t identify what, but you just put this in perspective and now it all makes sense to me…….you are grieving for the Mother you never had, and I am grieving for the Mother that I had. How terribly ironic can it be for you?

And Sparkle, that is why you are living your life so much like me….its a hallmark condition of grieving. I think dumb-dumb here will have many new suggestions that probably will help you, the next time I read your blog.

Thank you always for visiting me. I’m so glad I came to you that first time.
My best to you–May God watch over you.
Frank

And there is one phrase there that hit the nail on the head (so to speak), and it is this:

“…….you are grieving for the Mother you never had, and I am grieving for the Mother that I had.”

Yes, I am grieving for “the mother I never had.” And sure enough there in the book (unbeknownst to me was a passage called, “Grieving the Mother You Never Had.” (This was more than chance.) It started off with:

“Every little girl deserves to have a mother who is crazy about her.”

Yes, in fact, every little child deserves to be the focus of their parent, in those growing years (and even after.) Truth is, we always need our mother to be a mother, don’t we? And when she is not, it affects us for the rest of our lives. When we do not feel celebrated, we wonder what is wrong with us. Being nurtured is so much more than food, clothing and shelter. It is what makes us feel secure, confident, and most of  all, loved. When we don’t receive that kind of love, we will forever be trying, and trying, and trying, till the day she dies (or we do) to win her love and approval. We will jump through hoops continually, deny our own happiness, and dance as fast as we can always, in hopes of someday being able to please her. But we never can.

But if she can’t accept us for who we are, (not what we do) how can we ever grow into healthy women? If she insists that we exist for her pleasure–to be a reflection of her, and to fulfill her needs, then we don’t receive the nurturing, security, or confidence that we need. And it becomes all about her, and it always will be, if she is a narcissist, as my mother is.  And we can jump and dance forever and a day, but we will never obtain the one thing that we desire–unconditional love and acceptance. My mother purposely withheld that from me, choosing instead to make me think, that the only approval I was worthy of, (and that was quite temporary) was the approval I earned. It was all performance based, but even the things that I was sure would please her, often times didn’t. And I could never figure out how to play this game. Her love  and acceptance always seemed out of reach to me.

 I knew this couldn’t be right, but I had little to compare it to, except for the love of my grandmother. Thank God, for the unconditional love that she showered on me, when I lived with her from the ages of about 2 to almost 7.  I believe that any healthy image that I have of love, came from her. She was very demonstrative and warm, and very nurturing. Leaving her, tore away every shred of security that I ever had.

When my mom threatened to kill herself, soon after she took me away from my grandparents (when I was somewhere around 6 or almost 7),  if I did not get along with her then boyfriend, I was so frightened, that the next time he came to our apartment door,  I buried my face in his jacket, jumped into his arms, and hugged him as tightly as I could.  (It’s not that I  really disliked him, but I needed some time alone with my mother, for her to first be a mother, before she brought men into our lives. But there were already two men, by the time she came back to get me.) This one, later became my step-father. Hugging him tightly (regardless of my feelings) meant not losing my mother, and I can still smell the leather of his coat. 

What kind of mother would do something like that to a little girl? It’s emotional abuse of the worst kind.  After that, I always feared abandonment, and determined to try not to make her unhappy or mad. But little girls are children, and no one can be good all the time, but I surely tried. If I didn’t please her, she would call me names, like “jealous”, “high strung”, or “too sensitive.” I have since read that narcissists project their feelings about themselves onto you. It is called “projection.” She tried to shame me, if I cried out for her attention, or didn’t always act like a grown-up. So I became an adult, and lost my childhood forever. I would “mother my mother” and that would remain our way of relating to this day. Her physical and emotional needs would always be predominat. She would receive all the compassion (and  I would never receive any.)  I would take up for her, (even fight her battles, if necessary), but as for me,  I was on my own.  I could never find solace in the warmth of her arms, never find rest on her shoulder, or understanding emanating from her heart.  She was never there for me with emotional support.  Never. In fact, many times she criticized me, when I was hurting the most, telling me that she just “didn’t understand.” (And sadly, I realized as an adult, that she never would, because she wasn’t going to even try.)

No, it’s not physical abuse, but the scars run just as deep, and if you look closely, you’ll see them–just behind my eyes where the hurt and rejection reside, and there in my aching heart, where there is always a sadness.

I remember so clearly every Mother’s Day, searching for an appropriate card, and thinking, “Why is this always so difficult?” (It had never been hard choosing a card for my beloved grandmother.) And I realized that my mother was really not a mother, so how could I extol all the virtues of her unselfish love? (I couldn’t.)

I will continue pursuing these thoughts, as I gain more understanding of  the situation, and how to be healed.  (And my God will heal and comfort me. Of this I am sure.) But first,  I have to acknowledge the problem, and no longer push it down into the recesses of my soul, pretending that everything was alright. It wasn’t, and I always knew it…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

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Friday was an interesting day. Rob and I took a trip to a nearby town (about 2 hours away.) He had some adoption business there, and asked if I would like to go along. It was so nice to have the freedom to actually say yes.

On the way, he mentioned that the assisted living had called Thursday, and said that they had tried to reach me to tell me that my mother fell again, and was taken to the ER. Of course, we have had our numbers changed, so they were unable to reach me. They did have my husband’s number at the law office, and managed to reach him instead. He told them that my brother was the one to call in emergencies now, and they said they would contact him. My husband said that he had decided to wait until he heard that she was okay, before he told me about the fall, because he knew that I had been through a lot of stress (related to our no contact situation, and to my brother’s evil email.) So he decided not to tell me until Friday. He said that she was okay, and had been returned to the assisted living by dinner. He had no details about the fall at that time.

He dropped me off at Michael’s craft store, and I looked there for awhile, (and got some decorations for our small tree that we will take on our Christmas get away), and then I walked over to TJ Maxx to browse for awhile, while he got some adoption consents signed. Then he picked me up, and I spent a little while in a Goodwill store. I LOVE thrift stores. I have a collectibles booth in an indoor flea market and often find things to sell (and keep for myself) in various thrift stores.

While I was in the thrift store, Chelsea (our daughter) called him from England, where she is visiting her birth mom and birth grand-mom for the first time. My daughter will turn 20 next week.  It is her first Christmas away from home.  She called her dad all hyped up, and said that they are driving her crazy. She can’t get a word in edgewise. LOL! The birth mom talks constantly (about herself–she’s a diagnosed narcissist) and the birth grand-mom talks even more, according to my daughter.  She said that she may have to go stay where her birth mom is staying, because her grand-mom smokes like a chimney, and it is really getting to her. (She told her dad that she needed to talk to me about it, because “mom understands everything.” So funny!) Chelsea said that she wants to come home early. LOL! She was not due back until the 1st of the year. So I don’t know what will happen there. She said she loves her life here, and wanted to know if we could spend some “family time” together when she gets back.) So, God is going to use all this for the good of our family. It has been a struggle to raise her from the age of 3 (when we adopted her.) She came strong-willed, rebellious, and very difficult, but we knew that she was supposed to be in our family, and we hung in there through many tough times. I think she is learning now, what her life would have been like. So it’s all good…

Rob and I laughed together about Chelsea’s call, and then went to have a lovely dinner at Olive Garden. Then we raced home to have a little time in our cozy chairs, before bed time. It was a very nice day. A day like I have not had the pleasure of enjoying in a long, long time.

When my husband went Saturday afternoon, to get some of the things that needed to be brought back to our house, (since my mom is moving out of the assisted living), he said that she had a black eye. This fall apparently happened on the way to the dining room. She was in her wheelchair (being rolled by someone there), and wearing her bedroom slipper boots, and somehow her foot got turned, and caught on the floor, and she toppled forward out of the wheelchair, onto the floor.  So horrible.  I saw the results of something like this at the NH, when the lady next door to my mom, had something similar happen, and she fell out of the wheelchair and onto her face.  It looked terrifying.  Rob said that my mom’s was more of a bruised and black eye.  If you remember, my brother insinuated that my mom’s first fall (where she broke her right foot and left leg)  was the result of my “inability to safely transport her places.” (Such a jerk!!!) Apparently, I’m not the only one that has a problem. He will soon see, that in her condition, and given her challenges with mobility, that it is risky business trying to take her anywhere. (And I managed it safely for 3 1/2 years, because I was very protective and cautious.) I have a feeling that he will be educated in the dangers very soon, as he plans to take her home next week, and then sadly, she will really be vulnerable.  But that is their choice, and they will have to deal with the consequences. Particularly, when she refuses (as she often did with me) to use her walker. 

So all in all, Friday was a great day.  It was relaxing, and a wonderful time to reconnect with my husband. We have missed each other so much. We are finally finding out again how nice it is, to be happy together…

Please see other aricles that I have written here:

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By now, my daughter is likely asleep in England, at her birth grandmother’s house. This journey has not been a simple as any of us thought it might be. (See my post on “My Cinderella” for background information.)

After us making contact with her birth mom several months ago (at Chelsea’s request), the first plan was for her birth mom to come to our town, and visit Chelsea for awhile. The next unexpected plan involved Chelsea inviting her to move in with her. (This caused some concerns for us, because of  what we knew of her background.) But we had never said anything negative about her birth mom, and always tried to acknowledge that she wanted her in a good home, and that she loved her. However, after raising our daughter for 17 years (she is now almost 20), we did have qualms, because her mother placed her for adoption (at age 3) due to some overwhelming personal problems. But we realized that Chelsea was an adult now (at least in numbers), and that we would have little to say about her choices.

However, not long after all this happened, we got a surprising call from England, from the birth grandmother. She left a message, saying that she wanted to bring us up to date, on what was going on in Chelsea’s birth mom’s life currently. (I will call her birth mom M from now on.) The tone of the message did not lead us to believe that the revelations were going to be good ones.

So when the times lined up right with the States and England, we returned her call. Before I go into that conversation, you need to know that we assumed that M had arrived here, and moved in with Chelsea, as we had heard nothing different, and the date of her expected arrival had long passed. (We had not heard a word from Chelsea, though it had been planned for all of us to meet for dinner, at some point, so we were beginning to wonder if that was going to happen.)

However, after a comedy of errors concerning the whole scenario,  it turns out that there was a problem with M’s passport, and once she reached Atlanta, she was promptly sent back to England. (So she had never arrived here after all.)

Now-enter the return call to Chelsea’s grandmother. She talked, and we listened (almost entirely) for about 2 1/2 hours. She told us that M was doing drugs and drinking.  And that she had very recently thrown a frightening temper tantrum with her sister, and because of that, she was presently living with a friend of the grandmother’s. The grandmother explained that when M gets like that, she will not let her stay with her. The grandmother said that she had told Chelsea about the situation with her birth mom (in a phone call), and gave her the choice to stay with M or with her (the grandmother.) Chelsea chose the grandmother. (Thank God.)

I asked the birth grandmother if she thought that M would expose Chelsea to drugs (or alcohol), and she said that it would not surprise her, and she didn’t feel good about her staying with her, for that reason. (Not that Chelsea hasn’t been around alcohol (and possibly drugs) on her own, but she is not even of legal age, in our state, to drink.) And she is running with a better crowd these days, and playing and singing in the church praise band.

Chelsea had told us that her birth mother had wanted her to fly to Cancun, and suggested that they try to enter the country illegally through Miami (on a sailboat.) ????????? (Since she couldn’t get in the U. S. with her passport.) Don’t you love it?????? This was too crazy even for a adventuresome teen-aged girl.)

Turns out that M had a drug conviction (her mother suspects more than one) and that is why she couldn’t enter the U. S. The birth mother claims this is a misdemeanor drug charge, but again the grandmother feels there is more to it, and most likely several charges.

So suddenly, the birth mom who looked so appealing to Chelsea, just a few short weeks before, now appears to have some very serious problems. This we had suspected, but it was all revealed without us having to say a thing. Later, Chelsea asked us some questions, and we answered them the best we could–truthfully and honestly.

Thanksgiving was spent with Chelsea, and she talked the entire time about her trip. She was excited to be going to England for the holidays, and after getting used to the idea, we were happy for her, (though still concerned.) Her birth grandmother had sent her $2,500 plus for her plane ticket and some warm clothes. (What’s not to be excited about?)

It turns out that her birth mother has been married several times, and has never really settled into a long term relationship, or a career. When we knew her, she was a casino dealer for many years. She told Chelsea that her dream is to take her backpacking across Europe. (Two ladies alone? What next?????) M had recently sailed to some country in South America (entirely alone), and apparently became a house mother to orphans, for a couple of years.  (You can’t make this stuff up.)  So she is pretty much a drifter, and a gypsy at heart. She is 44 years old, and Chelsea appears to be much more mature. (A very scary thought.)

I asked the grandmother about M being a Christian, (as she had told us that she was.) The grandmother answered something about her “pulling the religion card.” ( So I don’t know…only time will tell.)

This whole deal is even more worrisome than we had imagined. But what can we do but hold our breath, trust God, and pray?

So today, Rob took Chelsea to the airport, and off she went. She will be away for her birthday and Christmas, for the first time in her life. I do believe that she will have a good time, as her birth grandmother is a barrister (an attorney in U.S. terms) and she will take her to many interesting places.  I know that this will bring some healing to Chelsea, and possibly her birth mom. But still, I have all the fears and anxieties that any mother would be feeling.

I gave Rob a card to give to her on the way to the airport. It said: “Before I held you in my arms, I held you in my heart.” On the inside it adds, “And that is where you have always been, and will always be.”

When she was little, she once said to me, “Mommy, I wish I came from your tummy.”

 I told her, “Sweetie, you came from my heart.”

Rob told me that she thought it was one of the neatest cards that she had ever seen. I told her to have a great trip, to be safe and well, and to remember that I love her always.

It’s strange…God does work in mysterious ways. Because as painful as all of this has been for us (her parents), I do believe that God is using it for good. She seems to be much more thankful for the home life that she had, and for the love and nurturing that she received from us. We will always be mom and dad, and now she will be able to fit the pieces of the puzzle together concerning her earlier life, and hopefully find some answers and healing. It’s all good in the long run, I guess.

And the only thing that really matters to me, is the love I see…in my daughter’s eyes…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html