A Time to Love Enough to Let Go
Above my computer I had a picture of my daughter Jenni in a Popsicle stick frame, taken when she was in maybe 2nd grade. It’s been there so long, I’d ceased noticing it there until today. A similar one of Heather was moved to the bulletin board long ago. Today, I took the picture of Jenni down and threw it face down in the bottom drawer of my desk. I’m still purging her last act which finally forced me to accept she doesn’t want or need me as a mother, or really, as anything else in her life.
I was barely included in the birth of her daughter 10 years ago. She only called for me when they told her she needed a C-section, and her surrogate mother hadn’t had the experience. Even so, I got to see her for a minute before they wheeled her away, so rushing to her side proved pointless.
When she learned she was pregnant again in early 2019, I received a few texts until I said something (inevitably) to piss her off, effectively ending what amounted to a conversation for us. Four months later, I received another series of texts telling me she was having twin boys and giving me a due date of November. She seemed certain she’d make her due date, but as one who gave birth to twins, I knew it was more likely she’d give birth 3-4 weeks earlier.
In late October I received a text saying she’d given birth the day before, and learned indirectly that though her father had been at her side, she couldn’t be bothered to inform me until after the fact. Needless to say, I realized the past 14 years I’d spent hoping we could eventually get at least a little closer to the relationship we’d had when she was younger was pie in the sky. In short, I gave up the dream, and closed and locked the door.
Oblivious Until Necessary
So noticing her picture still hanging above my computer wasn’t even a painful reminder. It was just a reminder that I’d mentally given her permission to seek her maternal support elsewhere since it’s clearly what she wants anyway. I still admit to having given birth to twins, but at this point, I only have one daughter, and the children borne by the one no longer mine…they’re someone else’s grandchildren, not mine.
To an outsider, this might sound cold, and perhaps it is. But we all do things to protect ourselves first and foremost, even if it doesn’t always seem like it. In fact, it’s one of our greatest acts of self-love. Continuing to claim a child, albeit fully grown, as my own is an exercise in futility, and in the long run, will only cause more pain. I’m not into masochism so I take the easier path.
An old Jewish tradition involves spitting on the ground to indicate someone living is dead to you. I’m not inclined to go that far, maybe because I don’t wish her dead, nor do I deny her existence. I simply cut the cord that tied her to me as a child of my womb. At some point, I’ll box up the few things in my house which are hers in one way or another (pictures, Christmas ornaments, drawings, etc.) and send them to her, or have her sister do it. I want no reminders I had a child, or that she had someone who might have called me Grandma had we not drifted into entirely different universes.
I wish her well in the life she’s chosen, but the door I’d left open in case she decided she wanted a healthy relationship with me is not only closed but sealed over. My wall-building skills, while dormant for the last few years are still alive and well when the need arises.
Allowing Feelings of Loss
I won’t lie to you. I feel loss. I feel an emptiness where I once had a sweet, loving child. Maybe there’s even a little anger there, but it won’t live long. It’s soothed over by acceptance. She has a right to choose her own life and the people in it just as I do. Not everyone we choose will choose us. That’s life.
I look at my bulletin board now, and see other things that will come down in the weeks to come. It’s a time to purge what no longer works for me, and memories of someone who doesn’t want me in her life is one of those things that needs to go. The energy holds me back and might even block someone who’s waiting on the sidelines until I’m ready to welcome them in. Cutting a door in another spot is a lot easier than walling one up. But first I have to seal up all the cracks in the old one.
It’s funny though. As I type the words that fill this page, I’m not feeling a whole lot of anything. Maybe relief that I don’t have to keep propping that door open. Or that I don’t have to walk on eggshells if and when she contacts me. I’ve blocked the only means she’s used lately, and she’s living in another state now, rather than a mile or so away. I think I can safely say she won’t be getting in touch in the foreseeable future.
Feelings Need to Be Felt, Then Let Go
I’m not completely blind though. I experienced similar feelings of relief when my mom took her life. I’d no longer have to hear from her or deal with her criticisms. Granted, I had no choice in the matter, or any way to re-open that door. I doubt I would have as I only gained perspective decades later when I could write about it and her without her influence—at least not directly.
Like my mom, Jenni will always be in my heart. Unlike my mom, the box that holds Jenni and her memories will be locked from the outside, and buried in the file cabinets of stuff I no longer access. I still have to feel those feelings and release them, but the contents of those file cabinets are allowed out little by little, unlike the things I’m ready and able to see the lesson they taught me. If there’s a lesson in losing a child’s love and respect, I’m not ready to see what it is. I honestly don’t know if I ever will be.
So I stash away the memories, both physical and mental. If I reach a point where I am ready to see what they came to teach me, I’ll pull them out. If the Universe deems me ready, I’ll pull them out too, but a lot less willingly. I don’t have so many of those events these days, and I don’t miss them. The ones I enter into unwillingly invariably cause more pain and disruption in my life than I want or believe I need.
I guess the lesson here is we don’t get to choose our lessons. They’re given to us for a reason, even if we don’t understand the reason until decades later…if at all.
Grateful for the Experiences and the Lessons
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the lessons, be they willing or unwilling.
- I’m grateful for the few years I had with my daughter Jenni. For awhile, she was both a joy and a trial. She made me laugh, she made me cry, and she made me scream with frustration; sometimes all at the same time.
- I’m grateful for my daughter Heather who may not always see eye to eye with me, but who teaches me so much about living a life of compassion and love.
- I’m grateful for friends who understand what it means to lose a living child.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, peace, health, harmony, justice, freedom, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward