My mom is the bravest person I know. When I was little, "brave" meant someone who faced something bigger then themselves, like a monster, or the dark, without being afraid. Now that I'm older I realize brave isn't the absence of fear, but facing our monsters despite it.
Mom's monster was her childhood. It was marred by the people who should have safeguarded it, who should have safeguarded her. They used her and betrayed her trust and this was a secret she carried with her for a long, long time.
She buried it so deep inside her that she forgot it was there. She got married, had three kids, got married again and had another kid, and through it all, cooked, cleaned, entertained, helped others, worked, was involved in her religion, and was a good mom and wife. Her life was busy and full but not truly happy and she didn't know why.
Then the day came when the last of her kids left home, and she had only herself to take care of. She had more time to herself than she ever thought she would. What does a person do with all that time? Mom choose to give it to others and immersed herself in a ministry work with her church. But no matter how much ministering she did, she still wasn't truly happy.
And now comes the brave part....she began to reflect on her life. She started soul searching to find out what kind of person she was. I haven't asked her this yet, but I don't believe she did this in a quest for happines, but rather, in a quest to know herself. Her motive wasn't to attain something afterwards, like peace, or joy. She simply wanted to know herself.
Introspection reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly in a person. The bad and the ugly are each of our monsters to face. Mom had several revelations about herself. One of which was what happened to her when she was a child. The memories of it hit her so hard that she had brain seizures. But she did remember.
Through therapy, she learned that she had survived her trauma by having two personalities. As I look back on my life growing up, I remember them both distinctly - the strong one and the weak one. But that's for another blog.
Back to my mother's bravery. She didn't run and hide upon seeing how ominous her monster was. She knew it had destroyed others, but she faced it anyway. She accepted that it changed her. She began to understand that what happened to her made her feel bad about herself, so she tried to make up for this by doing good things for others so she could feel good about herself again. Thus, her involvement in the ministry and her works in her religion.
Here's the other brave thing my mom did. She stopped doing things for the wrong motive. She stopped practicing the religion she was raised in because she realized she had done it all those years for her gratification, not to please God. She didn't just stop, she stood up and declared that she wasn't going to be a hypocrite anymore. She stood up for what she believed in. That's brave.
She still does good things for people, but it's not so that she can like herself. She likes herself just fine now. She figured out the best parts of those two personalities she had and rolled them into the one she should have had all along. For the first time, my mom is happy.
Thanks mom, for showing us that we can look inside ourselves and not be afraid of what we might find, no matter how scary it is. Thanks for teaching us how to give freely, for showing us it's ok to be happy, and for showing us it's ok to say what we feel.
Happy 70th Birthday, mom. I love you.