A Mother's Guilt
First off, I am not a mother, but I have one in heaven. Her name is Ellen and she was a picture-perfect mom. She always put us (my 4 siblings and myself) first, she always made sure we had everything we needed, and she made it a point to bring us together as a family as much as possible. During the time she was alive, her situation was unique. She was oh-so-gracefully fighting her way through breast cancer. Seriously, if you took the visual appearance away, you would have never had a clue what she was going through. Such a badass. Anyway, at this time, there weren't people around her going through what she was. I can imagine it was scary and confusing.
She loved with everything she had and often that meant sacrificing herself, for us. She sacrificed sleep to be at a soccer game. She passed on convenient doctor appointment times to be there as a lunch mom on a regular basis. She catered her life around being the most outstanding, supportive, there for you always, kind of Mom.
We learned how to love from my Mom and Dad. Mom's love was sacrificial and strengthening and Dad's love was kind and service-filled. I had a realization today that blew me out of the water. It is what inspired me to finally start writing openly. I pulled an angel card during my morning practice: Guilt. "Guilt?" I thought to myself. I currently don't feel guilty about anything. What's up with that?
I sat quietly, with my eyes closed, and waited for an answer. I started to see my Mom and I interacting when I was young. I was brought back to a moment in time when she was getting sick from chemotherapy and I stood in the doorway watching her. She apologized for what was happening, while I stood there in tears, feeling sorry I couldn't do anything to help her. No amount of being a "good girl" was helping her get better. If anything, she was becoming even more ill. I was confused, I thought that Jesus did good things for kids that were good. So why on Earth was he punishing my Mom and family this way?
This "Guilt" card I pulled was showing me that my Mom felt guilty and helpless to change what was happening in her cancer battle. She did everything she could to keep us from suffering with her, but we still did. When she suffered, we were there with her, suffering, too. The guilt she felt meant she wasn't always acting from what was in her best interest, but from a place of desiring to lessen the pain we went through. I realized today that I love similar to my Mom. It is my instinct to put other's needs before my own. I love as if I am going to be going away soon and that it may be my last chance to accompany him to the grocery store. All I remember is this version of my Mom, its what love has meant to me, its the only way I thought I could love was being of service and giving up my needs for someone I love. Honestly, I have done that willingly and gladly. When I started dating my now fiance, he would often say, "Don't worry about me. I'm good. What about you? What do you want?" Certainly people in my life have asked me that but not to this degree. Now, 5 years into this relationship, he has been assisting me in continuing to ask what would serve me. "What do you want?" Is an extremely easy question for me to answer. Yet, something, some emotion, would always stop me from consistently following through. I didn't know what that feeling was until today, when it popped out of the card deck, right before me.
This realization has been in the process of becoming for some time now. I have known that being of service means, "Me first and then I am of benefit to others." But today it all tied together into the guilt that I felt for my Mom being sick. The belief that "Love means putting other's needs before my own." was coming from what I learned from my Mom, who was in a unique situation, where her time was limited and she wanted to ease our pain as much as possible. I now have an opportunity to practice loving myself first, which will take consistent practice. Now I not only understand but I know that living under the umbrella of guilt is not helping me on my path to happiness. I know that guilt was something I took on from my Mom and that I no longer need to use as a form of loving others.
Mother's guilt comes from many places and I hope that this story opens the door for you to peer into where your guilt may be stemming from. Going forward, I am going to have this new perspective and I know I will revert to my conditioned tendencies. I am eager to see what changes when I am acting out of a more balanced place. Guilt is a heavy emotion and if there is no action to take to "right" the guilt, then it is probably misplaced.
With grace and gratitude,