While I may be small,
I’m mighty, and when we meet
we will play my game.
Today is Mother’s Day. My mother is dead. She’s been dead for about seven years now. Since I’m not a mom yet myself, I’ve been trying to remember what I thought those other six Mother’s Day since my mom died, and I can’t remember. I’m sure I spent a number of them focused on my ex-boyfriend’s mom. Last year, Mother’s Day was the day before my commencement ceremonies for grad school, so it’s likely I didn’t even realize Mother’s Day was happening.
This year though, as I take inventory, I just feel weird. As callous as it sounds, I don’t really miss my mom. I’ve explained this before, but due to her mental health, my relationship with my mom was painful and defeating. However, as I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed and see photo after photo of proud daughters with their moms, I find myself tearing up and feeling left out. And a little jealous. My mom was not my best friend and I’m doubtful that she ever could have been. Maybe that’s why I feel left out.
I do have great women in my life who take on mom-like roles. My aunt, Claire, is someone whose existence is simply comforting to me. My dad’s girl friend is definitely a part of my family and I’m so grateful for her. And hell, my two mentors have definitely served mommy-like purposes in the past.
I’m certainly not a poor little orphan. Of course, I can’t be an orphan because I have my pops. We talked on the phone a little after I got back from judo practice this afternoon since he’s been checking in on me more frequently in effort to make sure I do not burn myself out. We spent most of the conversation talking about the judo and jiu jitsu tournament I’m competing in next weekend. I’m nervous to compete– it’s my first judo tournament in over a year and my first jiu jitsu tournament ever. I have moments of confidence, but they waiver. As I talked with my dad, he inadvertently gave me the right pre-tournament pep talk. After getting off the phone, I feel more confident and more determined to test myself. I feel a lot less like I’m going out there alone next weekend.
So do I care about Mother’s Day? I guess I do. Today I feel the absence of what some other people have. But even though I only have one parent now, he’s an exceptional parent. I can’t get too upset knowing that.
I don’t want to be up like this,
with my heart racing so that it no longer seems containable,
and my breaths so short and panicked.
That’s not what I wanted.
Here I lie, imaging the worst,
which is not even irrational or hyperbole,
since we’ve seen it–
I just don’t want to do that again.
But the fear, which drags its claws into the backs of my shoulders,
and whispers these possibilities which make my stomach buckle and my throat seize,
will make me stand straighter in the more morning
and speak louder,
because we’ve seen the worst
and I don’t want to do that again.
I was so afraid
just to say I was scared,
so I let trust win.
The other night, I wrote an off-the-cuff Facebook status in which I remarked, “I tend to walk the line between commitment and stupidity.” At the time, I was referring to the fact that I showed up for judo and jiu jitsu class even though I hurt my hip for the nine billionth time two nights before and could not really use my right leg without significant pain. Like way more than the acceptable, normal amount of pain that you feel during practice. After about 45 minutes, I realized I was doing myself no favors and needed to go home before I made everything worse. I showed up for practice because I have a tournament coming up in two weeks, and I wanted to get in some work. Missing class felt lazy and neglectful, but I won’t give myself a fair chance in competition if I’m not healed. It’s common sense, really.
Then last night, I went out to dinner with one of my teammates. While sitting in a no-frills tiny restaurant specializing in magical roast beef sandwiches, complete with checked tablecloths and waitresses who call you “hon”, she and I eventually started talking about dudes and relationships. I commented that I think in relationships, I try so hard to make it work even though I know I’m not with right person. My teammate remarked, “Huh, another line to walk.” I gave her a puzzled look, and she said, “Another line between commitment and stupidity.” I was taken aback when she connected those dots for me. It makes sense, however, that I would take the same approach to work, training, relationships, and probably other parts of my life that I’m forgetting about now. I can theorize why I’m like this and tie it all back to my childhood and family systems and all that stuff, but at this point, I think all that matters is that I stay aware of this line and start thinking about how to keep my balance.
It’s amazing how gravy and hot peppers can lead to revelations.
People keep telling me, “I’m an honest person; I tell it like it is.” From what I see, though, these honest people who pride themselves for being so straightforward rarely communicate anything useful or genuine. “Telling it like it is” so often unfolds as voicing judgmental observations about someone else.
What’s honesty without insight? I think with honesty comes vulnerability. Anyone can point out the flaws of another person; however, to reveal one’s own fear, anger, and sadness requires a level of self-awareness that can be terrifying to face, let alone share with another person. I don’t think you can call yourself honest until you can say something true and difficult about yourself. After that, I’ll believe anything you tell me.