How is it that sometimes we are able to “make lemonade from the lemons?”
To find the blessings and lessons.
And other times we feel like we’re getting the short end of the stick?
How do we choose the path of positive re-framing instead of complaining and blaming?
I believe that it starts with sharing your story.
We all have our stories. And sharing is what shows our authenticity and vulnerability. It’s what connects us and shows us that we are not alone.
I shared last week with my community that I was heading to CT for my mother’s funeral.
I had a chance to say goodbye just 2 weeks prior but hadn’t seen her in 26 years before that.
I lost her the first time as a child to mental illness.
And this second time to acute myeloid leukemia.
And throughout the pain of this last month, I discovered a couple of simple, yet profound insights…..that I hope will support you too.
You see, I had to shift the “poor me” mindset early on in life. I was resilient and strong. And felt proud of my ability to bounce back; to recognize the blessings and lessons along my journey – despite a far from functional childhood.
But I realized over the last few weeks that all my years of being open and vocal about my story weren’t always about strength. I also learned that healing isn’t a one-time thing.
Layers of sadness and grief surfaced this month, as I processed my mother’s terminal diagnosis and then went to tell her goodbye…. for the second time and final time.
I realized in the moments between tears… how much pain was still buried deep within “my story.” I always thought I had closure to this loss. But how could I really? And while I’ve shared my story so “matter-of-factly” all these years, I now recognize that in some ways, it had become a crutch. Armor to shield my insecurities. Especially since becoming a mother. “Look how great I’m doing despite…
Adapting to motherhood myself, is what caused these wounds to begin resurfacing. I found myself feeling “that I just don’t know how to be a good mother because I lived with a completely unstable woman during my formative years.”
And then just last year, I learned that this was a cycle. A horrible cycle of pain I needed to release. Because the trauma my mother faced in her youth….most certainly led to her disconnection from reality.
So how do we find the gifts in moments like this?
It’s not always easy.
But I do see and honor the blessings.
I’ve had amazing women in my life. I’ve learned that it absolutely does take a village…and I’m grateful every day for all the beautiful people who’ve been a part of my village. Who helped raise me and support me and nurture my gifts and my spirit.
I learned about being vulnerable and asking for help.
I learned that “closure” is relative when it comes to healing from the loss of a parent.
But the greatest gift and lesson is one that I teach.
I believe that the universe was testing my core value and belief. Testing my commitment and my practice of being love. Of slowing down, renewing and healing regularly to so we show up as our best selves.
Sharing my story is still important. But the reason for sharing my story has shifted.
It’s to help name and then surrender the parts of the story that are holding me back. The deep unconscious parts transferred in our biology or conditioning and development.
We are shaped by what does and doesn’t happen in our lives. Only in acknowledging and working through the painful parts….can we let go.
That’s the beautiful news. We can rewire our neural pathways. We truly can change. Let go.
I’d wrestled over the years with whether or not I needed to see my mother again. But when I heard the news that she had terminal cancer, I knew I needed to see her and set her free, in order to set me free, and in turn set my daughter free.
It was time to surrender to healing and transformation and releasing her pain. Letting go of the parts of the story that likely led to her demise, while honoring the gifts. Especially the gift of life that she was able to give to me.
So as the tears came, I realized that she was finally going to be at peace. And because this lesson of letting go in order to notice the gifts is so important for us all, I want to share what I wrote and read at my moms funeral last week.
About surrendering and letting go of what no longer serves us as we collectively embrace what does.
And no. This journey has not been easy.
But it’s in the acts of self-love and slowing down that I’ve been able to realize and honor the blessings and lessons. May you find the space and time for your own healing too.
Its so hard at times to know what to say. What to do. How to make things better. How to help.
So we try to muster up the right words. Find the right answers. Ask the right people.
And sometimes the answer is simply to do nothing.
To surrender the pain and invite in love and light and spirit.
I saw this in your eyes just two short weeks ago… its a memory and a lesson I’ll carry forever.
Because you never stopped fighting until you knew you’d be safe…. and I’m forever grateful I got to hug you and comfort you and say goodbye.
And while your spunk and passion didn’t always serve you….It’s what got you through.
So thank you Mom. For being strong and driven.
For always having dreams and hopes and visions.
To make things better. To create positive change. To release pain.
I know in my heart that these were your gifts….
Not everyone was able or ready to see and accept these gifts, including me…..
but i know they allowed you to find some pockets of light in your life…
To build a career and marry. To bring your 2 children into the world….
And then to keep going even when reality escaped you.
It dawned on me recently another time you truly surrendered.
Thank you for loving us enough to let us go too, Mom… so we stood a chance.
I could never fully process or grieve this loss until becoming a mother myself.
I now know that letting us go must have been one of the most painful things you ever did.
And the most loving.
And While many of us spend our lives seeking love, joy and purpose….
maybe our entire purpose is to simply choose to be loving and purposeful day in, day out.
To surrender to the journey, but to still show up and make a difference in whatever small way we can.
It’s a choice I made when I realized that there was nothing I could do to help you.
Tough choice for a child.
So I’d say hi when you’d call…(and yes sometimes it’d be years in between your calls)
I’d try unsuccessfully to find meaning or logic.
And then I’d hang up feeling all your pain.
I’d cry. I’d wonder why. I’d grieve.
And then I’d commit myself to honoring the life you gave me: finding the lessons and blessings in everything and everyone and doing my best.
And most people don’t understand… How could they?
But as I told you in our goodbyes…I know you did the best you could.
So did I Mom. So did all of us here.
Because we didn’t know what to say. Or what to do. Or how to make things better. Or how to help.
So we tried to muster up the right words. And ask the right people.
But now we’re surrendering too, Mom.
Surrendering your pain.
Surrendering your suffering.
Surrendering to light, love and grace as we release your burdens and purposefully carry on your gifts.