My mother was a mess. A neurotic, paranoid, yelling and screaming broken mess, striking out at me as if her abusive childhood was my fault. My fault that her mother dumped her in an orphanage. My fault that she had a foster-mother from Hell. My fault that my dad didn’t work, that they were behind in the bills and my youngest brother was getting into trouble every time he blinked.
And I believed it.
I should have been there and punched that wicked foster-mother in the face. I should have been there when her sadistic son molested her in the barn. I should have beat him up, hung him from the highest tree stark naked in the blazing sun and let the buzzards finish him off.
That’s what I should have done.
And I felt smugly justified in my feelings seeing how broken my mother was. How the fury inside her erupted time and again. How none of us knew how to help her or cope with the hopelessness and devastation her brokenness caused.
I don’t know why I felt so responsible for my mother’s tragic childhood. I don’t know why I thought I had the power to make her all better. Maybe I thought if she could just one time see and feel my love it would be enough.
It wasn’t. All the love, wealth and happiness in the world wouldn’t have been enough.
But, I never stopped trying to be her “enough”. Trying and failing again and again till I had nothing left to give but a heart boiling with rage.
Carelessly, she used my tender, sensitive emotions to control me; to feel a sense of power she never felt growing up. Oh, how she loved un-zipping her soul revealing the wounded inner child, whimpering how she was beaten till she bled. How she walked a mile to school in snow up to her elbows. How she’d find rocks in her lunch bag instead of food. How her foster-mother hung her pee-stained sheets out her bedroom window for every passerby to see. If I resisted her mad ploy for control, She’d hammer me to the ground with her lengthy crypt-like silence till I finally caved in.
My mother had a china-doll-Incredible Hulk syndrome. Delicate and fragile one minute and a raging, roaring monster the next. My bedroom became my haven, but not for my poor Barbie dolls that were slammed repeatedly on the bed by a raging lunatic. Sometimes I’d even chop off their long, beautiful hair.
I admit I was a hellcat of uncontrollable fury against my mother at times, especially when I entered my teens and began pulling tighter on the reigns. I was a good kid; a Christian kid. I took to heart the morals she pounded into my head. I didn’t chase after boys, or lie, cheat or steal. I hung around wholesome kids and always checked in to let her know where I was. I earned my freedom and trust, didn’t I?
Nope! Nope! Nope!
Finally, the battle of the wills turned into a full-blown war neither of us would ever win. And the very one who tried her darndest to save her is now drowning in a cesspool of grief, crying for help. But help never came.
No human hand reached out and touched me. No human arms held me tightly as I cried. No human voice whispered in the darkness everything will be okay.
But God did.
For years I ran from Him, though, blaming Him for everything that went wrong. My life was one big question mark of why’s. Why did you let it happen? Why didn’t you rescue my mother? Why didn’t you rescue me? Why? Why? Why?
He didn’t answer all my why’s, but He understood all my pain. He understood my raging fury. He cared that I was a shattered mess. And to prove it, He opened my eyes and I saw His beaming face. He touched my wild, rebellious heart. He held me in His arms like my father never did. He whispered to me in the darkness, “I’ve got this. I’ve got you. I’ll never let you go.”
It’s been a long bumpy ride. At times, it was like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. But, although we never had a perfect relationship, after six years of no contact, we finally had a few civil years before she passed away.
There’s still that empty longing that only a mother can fill. My heart still cries for her. And I can’t help but wonder what a peaceful, loving home life would have felt like. Then, I look at my son and his happy, growing family and I know.
And I feel deeply blessed. Deeply rewarded when I did nothing to deserve it. And I can’t thank God enough for all that He has done for me even when I thought He didn’t care. I see now that through the darkest dungeon of despair, He was there, giving me strength, nudging me forward, teaching me, encouraging me, sending people to love me, picking up the pieces of my life as if they were priceless jewels. He never once left my side. Not even for a second.
I will never leave you nor forsake you (Joshua 1:5).