Healing isn’t an aha moment. It’s more of a slow cascade, like a creekside waterfall with periods of drought.
I wept violently for the betrayal from my own mother. There was surprise, but not shock. I had known she could lash out and inflict pain with little remorse, but this was deeper. It was a demoralizing, soul changing pain. All the defenses I had built throughout my child hood had not prepared me for this betrayal. I found no relief from prayer to the God I had clung to for inner peace throughout a tumultuous childhood. In place of any comfort or peace were unanswered questions and confusion.
Struggling to make sense of a nonsensical, cruel world, I turned the blame inward. What must be wrong with me for my own mother to think so low of me? My self identity was broken.
The stigma of mental health continues to hold us victim. Among my own family I have those who refuse to acknowledge facts or accuse me of attempting to turn them against our mom. It’s a difficult journey. My mother was a dynamic person. She loved animals and nature. She was a free spirit, but while she had her highs, her lows often consumed her. Now that she has passed, it seems that in talking of her mental health issues we somehow dishonor her. I disagree. If we are not able to honestly discuss mental illness we cheat everyone. Recognizing her lifetime struggle gives witness to her strength and perseverance. In her best moments, she smiled, played, sang, and danced. If we bury the truth of the lows, then we negate her strengths. There is beauty beneath the broken pieces and talking about what was broken moves us past the shame so that we can celebrate that beauty.
In the continued journey of healing, when we begin to bring the reality of mental health sickness into the light, we begin to put the weight of blame where it belongs. Like any disease, mental illness inflicts unfathomable pain. It cheats us of our loved ones, and has no rhyme or reason. It is the culprit. Once we understand this, we begin to lift the weight of internalizing the blame and perhaps gain empathy for those in our family who battle mental health problems. We begin to see that those with mental illness are beautiful beneath the broken pieces.