I came across this, which I wrote on July 3, 2011, the eve of what would have been my mom’s 66th birthday. I never shared it. This month marks 5 years of being without her, so I figure I’ll start off the month with this. It’s as much a tribute to my friends as it is to her. I realize, the more I think about it, my friends have rather large shoes to fill, and I appreciate them for it.
Tomorrow would have been my mom’s 66th birthday. Somehow, all weekend, I’ve been feeling a bit detached from life and from those around me, and I think this has a lot to do with it. I can’t put my finger on why though. I have other things – lots of other things – bouncing around my brain. Some I’ve shared with people and some I feel are just too private for anyone except myself and God. But it all weighs heavily and it all makes me feel very alone sometimes. And of course my biggest problem is, there is one other person I’d share them with, and that would have been my mom. But it’s been almost 3 1/2 years since I could do that, which only really adds to this feeling.
I don’t say these things because I want anything to change, or because it’s any sort of cry for pity. I don’t believe we, as humans, can ever really lose this alone feeling. Sometimes it’s more pronounced than others, like for me when I think of what I lost when I lost my mom. But it’s always there, partly because that’s just our nature. We are all individuals. As the wisest man who ever lived once said, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.” But sometimes I think I don’t try hard enough either.
People love venting to me. Sometimes they vent to me because they want advice, but most of the time, I think, it’s just because I’ll sit and listen. You don’t need to solve a person’s problems in order for it to be a good venting session. You just have to care that they’re distressed. And I guess I’m good at caring. But what happens when I need to vent? What happens when I need someone to care? The answer used to be simple. I’d go to my mom. But now it’s not possible anymore. So for awhile I’d bottle up the big stuff and let the little stuff go, to relieve the pressure. But I would just let the little stuff out to everyone around me. So it seemed like everyone knew I’d stubbed my toe but no one knew why I felt like my life was falling apart. True, sometimes (most of the time) those feelings were over-dramaticized in my head. But that, too, was (still is) part of my problem.
When my mom was alive it was easy. I could go to her with just about anything. But now, it’s not so easy. I can’t (nor do I particularly WANT to) go to someone with everything. But being the lazy person I sometimes am, this feeling kept me from going to anyone with anything. And I almost felt, and do sometimes still feel, that nobody knows the real me, because I don’t share the real me with anyone. I feel as though I come off as shallow as a result. But lately this has changed. I realized I don’t need one person to know everything, but maybe if many people each know one (different) thing, whatever one thing they’d understand about me, this would help me get over this disconnected feeling.
I am finally letting that happen. I’m being more vulnerable with people, telling them some of the stuff that is really bugging me in my life. And while, in the beginning, I may not know WHY I told this particular thing to that particular person, in the end, it’s clear it was the right thing to do. I find that when I listen to the promptings inside of me to go ahead and share, I learn there is a good reason for it. Maybe they’ve gone through similar things, and can help me with my crap. Or maybe we can help each other get through our crap together. Or maybe they have ideas and can help me move to a new place – a place I’d love to go and couldn’t get to without that help. Or maybe they are just good at helping me forget, even if it’s just for a few hours, what’s really bothering me.
Sometimes I still wish my mom was here. Sometimes I still wish things would be easy. I lost her too soon in my life (but I could have lost her at age 90 and it would have been too soon!) And more importantly, she knew me better than anybody else. She was wise and gave me good advice. She knew what I needed when I needed it, and she was just a really good person. This weekend, being her birthday weekend, has definitely put me back in the “isolated” category. Somewhat. But at least I do have my friends…
And sometimes I realize what a risk it is relying on friends. With my mom, there was not much risk involved. She was my mom, and would always love me. Not always so with friends. But I’ve come to realize something else. The same wise man I quoted above also said, “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” And I have, as of late, been blessed with several such real friends. While not blood relatives, they are spiritually my brothers and sisters. And they are friends who not only stick closer than a brother, but friends who stick as close as a mother.