by Joni Abilene

Mother and I have a strained relationship, which you can read about here in all its (mostly) fictional glory. We love each other, but things get sour if we’re around each other too often or for too long. Not sure if she knows this, but it’s become a painful reality in my life. Many times I want to call her, be with her, and then I remember the things she’ll say or imply about my hair, my choice of clothing, the cookies on my counter that are too sugary, the messy living room I haven’t gotten around to cleaning yet. It dredges all my insecurities from childhood of never being pretty or smart enough. And then there’s that whole religion thing. I dropped out of the catholic church in my early twenties, and often feel a great amount of guilt for doing so. Mostly, though, I feel relief because, as much as I love the beauty of the church; the smell of incense, dipping my fingers in holy water; none of it is enough to erase those years where fear and shame ingrained itself into every pore of my spiritual being. Where looking at or touching myself was sure to cause a strike form God, that he was always watching, always ready to punish. I’m smart enough now and have done enough inner work on myself to know that that type of thought process is unhealthy. I’m sure Mother has spent countless hours of her life worrying about my soul. I wish I could tell her that it’s fine. That I’m fine. But she wouldn’t believe me.

It’s painful not being able to show up at her house. It’s hard to not call and tell her my troubles. She would tell me my troubles were of my making, and as thus, must be slept in until resolved. I would tell her that sometimes problems are just that, problems. They come, they go. They are not always us. They are not always a punishment.

I never had a father and sometimes it pains me to feel this way about my mother too, that she is here, has always been here, but not for me. My problems hang on me, like the scapular of the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary that hangs on ones chest and back. This loneliness, this need, these problems, hang on me and I must deal with them alone.