Holy Week tends to find me in a reflective mood, grateful for our Savior and the sacrifice He made for us, striving to be a better Catholic and follow more closely in His footsteps. It’s so easy to whine and complain about the small stuff and to think that the big stuff is the end of the world. It’s not, and I know it. Sometimes I forget. Holy Week helps me put things back in perspective and remember that no one has nailed me to a cross.
Jesus is perfect. I am not. I can try to excuse my shortcomings or I can ask Him to give me the grace to overcome them and do a better job as a Catholic, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, homemaker. In short, do a better job at everything Our Lord put me on this earth to achieve.
I wouldn’t be the person I am today if not for the things I have suffered in my life, both physical and emotional. One thing Our Lord has shown me is that he put me where He did for a reason. I was born into the family He gave me for a reason. He created me to survive. He created me to overcome hardship and abuse and come out the other side a better person.
Physical abuse is not the only kind of abuse that can rob someone of their joy and desire to live. Verbal and emotional abuse can kill the soul and take away hope. And sometimes, when you think all the bad stuff is behind you, it hits you. You have to face the fact that you’ve been making excuses for the very person who brought you into the world, the very person who is the source of all your pain and misery. And. Let. Go.
No adult child should have to turn their back on the woman that gave birth to them. No adult child should, at the age of 65, be subjected to degrading comments and insults designed to make them feel small, insignificant, and stupid. But life isn’t fair. And some people come with more baggage than others, and when people refuse to put down that baggage and overcome the evil influences in their lives you have to let them go.
I allowed my 90 year old mother to treat me like garbage because I spent my entire life making excuses for her behavior due to the fact that she was emotionally and verbally abused by her father. Well, she wasn’t the only victim of his abuse. I grew up with it, as did my brother. My father endured incredible pain because of my mother siding with her abusive father over the rest of her family. The older she becomes, the more abusive she becomes.
I’m not like my mother. I didn’t identify with my abuser. I got away from him as soon as I could and completely separated him from my life when my daughter was a toddler. I couldn’t have her exposed to the hate and venom that I experienced as a child and young adult.
It will soon be two years since I had to face the fact that my mother is every bit as bad as her father. It’s not only that she is determined to cram her opinions down my throat, it’s the fact that she takes pleasure in trying to make me uncomfortable and provoke me into an argument over nothing. She lives for it. It gives her a great deal of enjoyment when she knows she’s hurt my feelings and made me feel sad. It makes her feel powerful and in control. Of course she is neither of those things but she can’t see that. It’s sad. That’s not what I want for my mother, but the only thing I have any control over is my own behavior.
I am answerable to God for how I behave when I am treated badly. I refuse to react in kind when I am ill treated by my mother so the only choice left to me was to leave her to her own devices. She has access to home health nurses and good doctors, as well as neighbors who run and fetch for her. And my brother is still willing to put up with her behavior. For now. He was always mother’s little boy and I was always daddy’s little girl. Funny how that works out. It will soon be 22 years since daddy passed and I miss him more every day.
Good Friday. A good day to look back and remember that there would never be an Easter without Good Friday. I am stronger because of the suffering I’ve endured. I’m a better human being because of the things I have overcome by the Grace of God. And even though my own mother is incapable of showing any love for me, Jesus has hold of my hand, showing me His Love, every single day of my life. And I can do anything because He is with me.
So, I’ll meditate on His walk to Calvary, the physical suffering he endured and the fact that He did it all for us, His followers. Then, on Easter Sunday I will rejoice that He is Risen and lives eternally, always there for me. And I know I will make it. I will triumph. I will win my race.