Making Peace with the Past

Gratitude is not easy to separate out when it is swirled with shame and bitterness without the wisdom of years.  Such is the case when I think of my Mother. 

My coming into the world happened she was only eighteen years old.  From a perspective today, I can look back and realize she was basically a child herself.  The first time she left home was when she married my Father.  

My parent’s marriage never seemed to be harmonious even when I was little.  They were not affectionate to each other and spent most of their time doing separate things even at home.  There were frequent arguments. Both had relationships outside the marriage by the time I was aware enough to remember. 

The weekend of my seventh birthday my Father dropped my Mother, Brother and I off at my Grandfather’s so I could go fishing at his lake.  My Father told us he was headed to the central office of the insurance company that he worked for.  Its location was about 40 miles away and he had to go there every few weeks to turn in paperwork and contracts.  We thought nothing of it.   

By the next day we still had not heard from my Father and there was much concern for him.  By afternoon an uncle came with a note he had discovered from my Dad saying he was gone forever and to not try to find him.  In time I came to know he had a pregnant girlfriend he chose to spend his life with instead of the family he already had. 

I did not understand what was going on.  Looking back now I do not understand why my Mother just told my Father to “got to hell” and said she wanted no financial support of any kind.  That was just anger and pride for we lived in poverty because of her temper and quick choices.  

For the next several years the parade of boyfriends began with my Mother.  The ones my Brother and I liked she seemed to run off given a short amount of time.  The ones we didn’t like never seemed to go away.  Between working, dating and living a single we did not see much of our Mother.  My Brother and I either fended for ourselves or were in the care of her parents.  As young boys we were exposed to adult things at far too young of an age.  There was the shame and confusion at eight years old waking up in the single bedroom we all slept in and seeing her having sex with a married man whose son was in my class at school.  There was plenty more, but this example points to her self-absorbed and immature nature as well as any example I can reveal.  

Within a few years she brought a stepfather into our lives, one my Brother and I did not like (OK, we hated him!).  Looking back today I think he was likely bi-polar at the very least.  To use he was simply nuts.  My Brother and I worked like dogs in his little grocery store and were frequently mentally abused.  Here and there the abuse was physical as well.  He threw me out on the street when I was 16.  Through it all our Mother never lifted a finger to protect us from the “evil stepfather”. 

The last year of high school my Father took me in and I moved 200 miles away to Jackson, Mississippi.  During those 10 months he and I found peace.  He did all that he could to apologize for what had happened between him and my Mother.  That was the only year of school when I had nice clothes, a decent car and I would willingly bring friends over.  Pure fear caused me to not have visitors around my Mother and Stepfather as I never knew if she’d be drinking or he’d be having one of his anger episodes.  

All of this was so long ago and in many ways my feelings have mellowed from the anger I once felt to almost pity for my parents.  I do have peace with my Father even though he died 19 years ago.  He made lots of effort to mend fence with me.  In my adult years he always hugged me and told me he loved me whenever I visited him.  He loved being a grandfather to my son.  My Father had many faults and weaknesses.  He hurt a lot of people, but in my adult life he never directed anything but good toward me. 

 My Mother gave birth to five children and only one or two even speak to her, then only occasionally. I have not spoken to her in 19 years and know it is not in my best interest to do so even now.  Her self-absorbed nature and denial of how things were creates a chasm that is impossible to get across.  Yet, I do end up at the bottom of these paragraphs wanting to express gratitude for her bringing me into the world.  If I were not her son, genetically I would not be who I am.  Had my life experience been different I believe I could have found some sort of peace and contentment sooner than I have.  Yet, I would not be the person I am without that trouble and heartache.  I am grateful to have been born to who I was born to and am thankful for my life, rocks and all. I know the troubles simply smoothed me like river water does a rock.  

We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, “Why did this happen to me?” unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way.  Author Unknown

About James Browning

A seeker working to grow each day and be a better version of my self. Through sharing I commit myself deeper to my ideals and beliefs.
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1 Response to Making Peace with the Past

  1. eof737 says:

    Amen to making peace with ourselves because, at the end of the day, it is what will see us through. I commend your sincerity and pray that all, including your mother, will find peace.

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