What I know and what I’m guessing

Here’s what I know, the rest I’m guessing at.

It’s been four and a half years since I have seen or heard from my daughter, fact.
She and I have struggled in our relationship since her teenage years. The struggle intensified when I divorced her step dad after an 11 year relationship. He was a good step dad. I stayed in the marriage longer than I should have because of that. He was a good man, but our marriage wasn’t. We both had a part in that. He and his infidelities, me choosing to stay with him in spite of that. Me drinking to deal, becoming angry, sometimes showing rage that my daughter unfortunately witnessed. It sucked for her. I have days of wishing hard for a redo or an opportunity for understanding and forgiveness.

I’ve read of relationships either strengthening or ending during this Covid time. In the beginning, I thought surely my daughter will want to connect, with all the fear this disease has evoked. Time passed, I got wind she was going through a divorce. As more time passed, the message was clear. She will not be reaching out. She has me blocked on all forms of communication. Covid will not be bringing us together. Nor will it be bringing me together with most of my family of origin. My sisters had a summer visit in the same town I lived in this summer. I didn’t hear from them. I learned on social media one sister has a new grandchild. The message is clear, for whatever reasons, some I am responsible for, divorcing, drinking and suicide attempt our family won’t be coming together. I suppose some things are unforgivable. Sometimes we are seen and defined by our worst actions.

I’m guessing, my family has deemed me crazy, unforgivable, toxic while the diagnosis of varying mental illnesses have certainly been tossed about amoung them. Since we don’t talk, I’m just guessing.
Some days, most days, I realize I have a pretty great life. I’m content really, living in a town I have loved since I discovered it. I’m healthy, have such dear friends, I’m pursuing creative outlets. I’m sober, I’m seeking, will never stop seeking and growing hopefully. I’m not pining to be in a relationship, nor do I feel I need another person to complete me or take care of me.
Some days I miss my daughter so badly, it kinda messes up the entire day. But those days are fewer and they will always happen. I am a mother. I miss my child.
As Dr. Joshua Coleman mentions in his talk here, I chose to feel the pain instead of avoiding it or pushing it away.

Thanks for reading a blog that started as a travel blog turned into a variety of blog posts, favorite shows, podcasts, writings, great places to donate, businesses to support, sometimes it’s sharing the journey of family estrangement. I feel it is an important topic to bring to light and discuss openly.

From Scientific America: “Family estrangement is one of my most requested topics from listeners and readers coping with the loss and isolation they feel when someone cuts family ties. In a way, the grief of family estrangement can be more painful—or at least more complicated—than the grief over a loved one who has died. When a family member voluntarily walks away, you may miss them and feel confused, ashamed, frustrated, and disappointed, especially if the hope of reunification is dashed.”

Contemplating God

On a recent drive, I finished listening to Love is the Way, Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times by Bishop Michael Curry. It was so comforting and got me thinking, contemplating God, religion, my church upbringing and how do I feel about all that now. I had heard Bishop Curry being interviewed on
Brene Brown’s podcast. His voice, Southern accent, Southern stories and his message of love got me interested in his book. I grew up in the Episcopal church. Even though I don’t attend church anymore, I appreciate growing up in this somewhat liberal church with rituals of communion, incense, and fellowship. 
How do I feel about all that? I appreciate the experience of the Episcopal church, although I can only remember feeling the presence of God there once. It was a Christmas Eve service at our church, St. James in Jackson, MS. My parents and my daughter attended. The church had invited the children’s choir from a local black church to join our children’s choir. As those precious faces looked out and sang Happy Birthday Jesus, I was moved to tears. This coming together of people who are not the same is where I see God. I didn’t feel him at any of my three church weddings, the obligatory Sunday morning services or in the priest office where I was sent as a middle schooler when my family was experiencing trouble. When the priest asked if I had ever masturbated and suggested I try it, I never went back for another session. Who knows where that might have gone. 

Attending a webinar with Kiese Layman and his auntie Rev. Carolyn Coleman, I witnessed love. Reverend Coleman reminds us silence is a great teacher, a great communicator. I have learned that during the past four years more than any other time in my life. She also reminds, until you learn to forgive the unforgivable, you don’t really know how to love. Recognize there are imperfect places in all of us, the grace of God covers us and calls us to still rise. With silence and forgiving myself, I am loving myself and others more and more. Someone recently said to me, “I can forgive you”. Those genuine words have brought a sense of peace and lighter heart. Although neither of us are church goers, God was felt. Ironically, some of those I know who are church goers and followers of Jesus are the ones I feel the most judgement and lack of love from. 

Krista Tippitt, On Being, Remembering Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks – Rabbi Sacks tells us we need to be enlarged by people who are different from us, not threatened. We should see that the welfare of others is linked to our own and is best for our own welfare. He wrote Dignity of Difference which is a radical proposal for reconciling hatreds. I’d like to think we can reconcile civilizations and our closest personal relationship and love will rule. 

How do I feel about all that? God shows up in all of us, in community, in nature, in silence, yes sometimes church. I believe most, if not all religions are trying to get at the same thing: love, and how to live in communion in this world. I believe our relationship with God is private. 

“Follow your dream, speak your truth” Rev. Carolyn Coleman

Forgive

Sometimes, I fall asleep crying and wake up crying. I’ve come to accept that and move through it, knowing in another moment I won’t be.
I cry for missed opportunities, family gatherings, my grandchildren turning 6, hearing them call me Gaga, the comfort of family checking in on each other during a pandemic, sisters, nephews, daughter and grandchildren calling to wish me a happy 61st birthday, planning the next gathering, and laughing together.
For reasons, some of my own doing and some I’m not sure of, those opportunities have passed.
I do believe, if we all listened, really listened with the empathy to put ourselves in each other’s shoes, we could grow to understand and forgive. I believe there is a story to be told, one of love and redemption. Fear  is erased, holds on control and the need to be right are loosened, and hearts are opened.

But for today, I’m off to Black Lives Matter Rally in Missoula. Black Lives Matter Rally
Showing up to show support, listen and learn.

Side note: the dolphin is running good. I took it to have oil changed at Lube It. The guys there loved it. I love it when whoever is working on it, loves it. Taking it into RV shop on Wednesday to have a few things taken care of.  I love it and it needs so much work!

Are we listening?

Are we listening? Some are out of fear, some have welcomed the quiet, some are rebelling, keeping their doors open. Of course we are scared, have needed the quiet and want to argue that this isn’t happening, no not to me.

Those who want to believe they are in control are rattled, holding onto their believe system even harder than before. Some of us just want all to be forgiven and love even harder.