For years, I spent my life being angry with my mother because of how she raised me. You see my mother believed in the belt! I didn’t get whippings; I got beatings! Imagine a 5, 6, 7 year old girl, heck even a 13 year old girl, being held down on the floor, with her neck between her mothers legs, so that her butt could stick out to be whipped? That was how my mother whipped me. I believe I caught a beating every day of my life! Could I truly have been that bad? Mama would tell my brothers to hand her a belt, so she could whip me, and they obliged. I didn’t even have my brothers on my side.
Also, my mother was very clear that she didn’t like girls. She didn’t just demonstrate it by whipping me daily, she out and out told me on more than one occasion that she didn’t like girls. So imagine what this disliked Taurus did to gain attention? I did everything bad that I could think of, and you can believe, I paid the price for it! Even for some things I didn’t do. Like one of my brothers sitting across the table at dinnertime, kicking me over and over for no apparent reason. When I cried, I was the one sent to the bathroom to wait for yet another beating.
When I was older, even my daddy told me that he use to feel sorry for me because of how my mother would beat me. But what I couldn’t figure out was, why didn’t he come to my rescue!! And not only was I tormented daily with these beatings, but also as a child, I was never privy to the hugs and cuddles of a mother. The only time I remember getting a kiss from my mother was when I was sick, and she would check to see if I had a fever. You see the hand is not accurate in feeling for a fever, true accuracy is face to face. Oh, so I played that card pretty often just to get an occasional cuddle every now and again. “Mama, check to see if I have a fever.” She would put her face against mine, and I would get to experience her face against my cheek. And if I was lucky and she was in a good mood, she would then seal it with a kiss and let me know what my temperature was.
So for years, as I became an adult and I still had this anger, which believe me, was NOT bottled up, I would blame it on my mother. I didn’t smile easily. I was very argumentative and all through school I played the bully role. And well into my 30’s and 40’s, I still harbored this anger about my mother and my daily beatings. When she was living, and we got into an argument, which we often did, I would remind her as often as possible how she beat me everyday! I did this intentionally to make her feel bad. You see I was an “angry black women.” I had justified and righteous indignation. I was brutalized as a child. I was abused. My mama didn’t know how to love me!
However, there was another side to my mama. She taught me how to play jacks, and sat on the floor with me until I learned to master the game. She also taught me how to play bid whisk and all the trash talking that came with it! “Come big or stay way small!” The same lady who told me she didn’t like girls also taught me how to sew beautiful clothes for my baby doll, and taught me how to even sew for myself. This same woman who once beat me until I peed on myself, also use to comb my hair in my favorite 3 plait hairstyle with the prettiest big bows to top them off.
So there you have it. Two sides to my mama: One very abusive woman who didn’t know how to show love to her baby daughter, and the other of a loving and teaching mother. Two images! Which will I chose to focus?
One of the catalysts for me in learning to make my decision was A Course in Miracles. As a student of A Course In Miracles I began to learn that life is all about perception! I began to understand that I really didn’t have enough information to judge my mother. Imagine, if a woman doesn’t like girls, then what is she saying about herself. My mama could have had generations and generations of pain against women flowing through her veins. But that, I now know, is really not important.
What is important is I learned that I could choose what I want to focus on when I think about my childhood. Some may call it denial, I call it forgiveness. Or as Lily Tomlin has stated, “forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past. “ So in choosing to reflect on my mother and our relationship, I could choose to look at those daily beatings and the horrible brutality I suffered as a child. However, my perception has changed, and even in this exercise of looking at the “Other Side of Through,” I had to laugh, because even though I use to complain over and over to anyone who would listen that I got a beating every day, now, to be honest, I don’t even know if it’s a fact or not, because I have pretty much chosen to rewrite the story. And there is one thing I do know for certain, and that is that mama did the best she could with what she had.
You see, I get to choose whether or not I want a Blissful Life. The abusive mama, or the loving mama; which thought brings me peace and bliss?
So when you hear me talk about mama, what I choose to reflect on is the woman who stayed with me the entire labor and delivery of my first child. The beautiful woman who gave birth to me at the age of 44, when most women her age were preparing to begin life as grandmothers. What you will hear from me is the story about the senior citizen who came up to Baltimore to keep my children while I went on a cruise, and my children to this day think Grand mama can make magic. In their minds all my mother needs is an onion and a little piece of meat, and she can create the best 4 course meal ever.
I’m also pleased to say that before my mother died, I chose to see her differently. As a matter of fact, I got to tell her so, and her message to me then was; “now, I’m at peace.” The next time I saw her, she was on her deathbed.
Yes, I put on rose-colored glasses to view my mother in a totally different light. She was and is a Complete, Perfect and Whole Daughter of God, created in His image. That is the truth of who she is, and all I need do is focus on that which I love and admire about her. The other story is there, but it’s not my story. I get to re-write, re-frame, and re-create. I have given up hope of a better past, and instead I have chosen to focus on a beautiful present! As Abraham Hicks has stated when talking to couples who are having problems, “so you don’t like the way your husband slurps his food at the dinner table? Well, do you like his nose? How about focusing on that cute little nose, the way it has that upturn look that you simply adore?”
It’s all about what you choose to focus on to make your life more Blissful!!! And the beauty of it is, is that while I’m forgiving my mother and looking at her in a different light, I also get the chance to forgive myself for not being the perfect mother to my own two daughters.
So here, join me and put on your rose colored glasses and enjoy the world. Recognize with me that “Your happiness is your greatest gift to others!”
Life is like an amusement park. Enjoy each ride! Some you may choose to go on over and over, and some you may never want to ride again. However, it still makes the trip to the park worthwhile. This Is Your Life. This Is Bliss!!
For more stories and anecdotes on Forgiveness, and exercises to help you heal, please order my book, Forgiveness is Bliss by clicking on the “BUY NOW” button on the right of the page.