Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2010.11.17 Profile in Courage

A woman recently told me a moving story—hers. It’s a story of mother/daughter love that comes from womb and know no bounds even when a painful relationship break happens.

Once upon a time a woman gave birth to a daughter, dearly beloved. Every day she loved this child with all her heart and did the best she could living with a difficult marriage and trying to manage her own decisions.

Every day the woman prepared meals for her daughter and other siblings, and every day the children ate well and grew up strong and healthy, until something began to go wrong. The daughter started the torturous route of addiction. It began slowly as it does with experimentation, adolescent stuff, maybe hanging out with friends that supported her growing habit rather than her health.

The mother’s response began slowly as it does with the usual parental warnings, hand wringings, and setting limits moving on to more desperate measures to try to control the uncontrollable. She offered advice, rescue and in time money, all good and obvious things to offer.

The daughter got sicker and sicker moving beyond alcohol. The drugs stole her personality, her sweetness, her intelligence, and her conscience. She became hard, unloving, a walled impenetrable brick house, containing terror.

The mother experienced about the same symptoms without the drugs—sick from worry, helplessness, grief, rage. All her way weren’t working to help her daughter. She didn’t stop loving her daughter.

The daughter was losing her life to addictions and the mother was losing her life to her daughter.

One day someone told the mother about AlAnon and she went. At meetings, as well as in therapy and with ongoing support from a steadfast and wise sister (not a nun sister) and her other children, the mother managed slowly to take back her own life and selfhood, which by now she had deeded to her daughter who occupied her mind,heart, soul, and body, leaving no room for herself.

The mother started to love herself as much as she loved her daughter. Years passed. The mother got well but couldn’t quite get the lost daughter off her mind. She wasn’t free.

It happened one day. It happened inspirationally. It happened because of a community of support and because of the grace of what 12-step recovery programs call Higher Power and some people call God, Buddha, Jesus, Allah,Universe, and many other names, all meaning Loving Mystery.

We pray for a rescuer and we got a lover.

Such Love has power in impotence. How odd. The woman connected with her own internal power fueled by her love for her daughter and drove unannounced to her daughter’s house where she encountered a cold hard woman she hardly could recognize, a woman facing a trial and a prison sentence, a much bigger limitation than her mother could ever manage.

Neither God nor mothers are very good jailers.

The woman made a simple statement to her daughter, one that told the daughter about her hurt. She told her “It hurts when........”

She didn’t tell her daughter “You hurt me when you......” The difference in language is subtle but the honest message is the same.

The mother told her daughter she had come to say good bye. I can’t imagine a more painful moment.

She also told the daughter she always had and always would love her.

Then she left. The door closed behind her and she drove away feeling free and weeping, the kind of tears you cry when you have labored long and finally a child pushes through to grab her own separate life. The umbilicus is severed usually by a doctor. This mother had to sever her own to give birth to herself.

Love, human or divine, is never severed however. Its power takes a long long slow time but one day it will show up.

Maybe, as it did for St. Paul, in jail .