Much of the content may be a bit dark, but it is not necessarily in chronological order. There are no dates, because I don't think it matters if I wrote it 3 years ago or yesterday. I decided to write for me and I know most of the time I feel like writing is when I have something I need to process or work through; this is really my only place to come to and release.

I am not miserable, I am just healing.

The difference between loss and letting go.

One of my friends recently went through the death of a family member. She has been down that road more times than is fair, but even if that weren't the case, rare is it that words of any kind can bring any actual or real comfort to someone in her place. I would usually offer up my time for anything they need, but I make no mistake in thinking anything else I could say, clich├ęd or not, would somehow put them at ease.  I might get a chance, however, to offer up insight when it is the relationship with the person passing on that they struggle with. If anyone can relate to strained connections with family, it is me.

So, this time I had something I could say that might actually help or mean something, rather than coming off as parroted or insincere. The person she lost was not always a nice person; she was bossy and critical, and often generally unpleasant. The bond between the two was threadbare and haggard at best, despite whatever semblance of love remained within it. Much like me, my friend felt abandoned emotionally for a long time. Many of her relationships with her family were and are a story of push, pull, and release. I told her  "Folks with families like that, we end up kind of losing them over and over all of our lives, because hope gives way to reality, rinse repeat, over and over. Then you still have to deal with losing them literally, which means no more hope, even if that hope had widdled down to barely noticeable anyway."

Maybe that doesn't seem very comforting at all; if you haven't been part of the same type of dynamic, the sadness or darkness of such realizations and acceptance by those people who have would appear to add to the pain. But it is how we go from wandering in fog to seeing through it. What is revealed may be a path wrought with steep cliff-sides, quicksand pits, and tall mountains... but at least we can see to move forward, now. And you wouldn't believe how many of those obstacles we can overcome simply because they are all too familiar to us.

For my friend and I, life has been a constant loop of hope, pain, and moving on. For me, I would see some tiny sliver of emotion from my mother as a sign of life, a reason to believe that she could still be my mom.  Inevitably, she would prove once again how foolish that hope had been, and I would be left burned on top of old scars that had barely had time to heal.  I would have to go through all the emotions someone does when they are losing a mother, as a child, as a teen, and as a young adult... until I finally arrived at accepting the absence.  Of course, she was still physically there, but in situations like those the heart has a hard time telling the difference.

Sometimes I would get to know the peace of knowing where we stood for a long time, others would be short lived.  Then, like she knew no other way, she would let a glimmer of possibility shine through and the rollercoaster would begin again.

Maybe that is why I have no patience for relationships that feel like rollercoasters. I have been there, done that, got the damned t-shirt and the scars. Some people might be able to stomach a little bit of that non-sense, but I did this too much, and I understand all too well how selfish and ridiculous it is... how damaging, confusing, and devaluing it is.

So, for the majority of my life, I lived with having the mom I deserved to have ripped out of my dreams and the reality of the void in that space thrust into my face over and over. Eventually, you give the fuck up.  I thought I gave up every single one of those times, only to be shocked that there was anything left of me to put in the next time the loop came around. There was, and it was always more than I could afford.  I can't put a number on the rounds we made by the time I got to my release point. I would say that I was done putting my hand on that stupid stove and that I had been burned for the last time, but that was not the truth until I was in my early twenties. I meant it each time I said it. I wanted it to be truth. But I wasn't ready to make it truth until then.

When I was 22 years old, I let my mother, and all of the ideas I had about a life including a mom, go. I released it. I wasn't mad at it; it just didn't exist as part of me any longer.  Apathy and indifference might seem like the right words to describe it, but those are reactions or descriptors of  a lack of reaction, which implies that there is something to react to. Instead, I had finally stopped believing that thing existed at all, so I was free to go about my life as if it were never there... as if I never had a mom to lose.

Because I didn't.

Do I still feel let down that I was cheated out of that parent I should have had, that many of my friends had? Sure. But it is disappointment in the  absence of a figure and no longer attached to her.  I don't miss her, feel disappointed she is gone, or wish she would come around. I wouldn't trust her even if she tried. I don't care that she won't. I wouldn't acknowledge it as possible, because I simply know that she is not and cannot be my mom, and she never was.  She was a stranger that gave birth to me, lived in my home, and took no part in the role of mom in any kind of loving or caring context.

Unfortunately, my friend is still living in loops of hope, pain, and trying to walk away. Even though each cycle means the hope getting trampled is a little smaller or less significant, it is still there despite her best efforts to disconnect from it. No matter what truth she wants there to be, she hasn't stopped hoping the slivers of light might means sunshine is ahead. Each time the sliver gets smaller, but it is not gone. If you subscribe to the idealistic bullshit thrown around facebook and churches and inspirations posters, you would say holding out hope is a good thing. It is not. Not this time. It is emotional torture, and can be emotional suicide. Sometimes it is better to tell someone they can let go and still be right and good.

When you lose someone to death that you have been stuck in a loop with, it isn't like release. It isn't like letting go. I got the chance to choose to end my pain and rewrite my story without certain characters ongoing, but she had the chance to let go ripped from her hands... all while she was still hanging onto those slivers of light.

I am not sure if I could say if it is worse to lose a close and loving relative or one that you have had a rollercoaster relationship with. As harsh as it is, you could easily wander if the latter would be a relief, as the heartache could finally be done... but there is also the tragedy of trying to come to terms with the  idea that if sunshine had really been around the corner, it has been snatched away now. No more choices or possibilities. It is another beast to lose a loved one over and over in your life, with the last loss coming before you got the chance to give up.

The difference between loss and letting go is choice, and choice means all the difference in how we take our next steps, how we look back, and how we navigate where we are right now. It decides responsibility, the weight of things, and what we end up owning as our story.

Is it terrible and sad that I had to give up on my mother? Of course. But I am thankful that it got bad enough for me to reach the point of release. I'm glad I got to let go before I was dealt the permanent loss. I know my friend will be okay. I know, at the end, there were some apologies shared and moments had... so maybe she can find solace in seeing a bit of sunshine then, rather than the same loss happening without it. Maybe she can try to believe that it was always there, and maybe that will take some of the sting away. I hope so.

I worry that it will breathe life into the loop that she remains in with others in her life... taking her further away from being able to actually let go and break free.  But in the same breath, who am I to say that there isn't hope for those relationships? Maybe release isn't in their future at all. Maybe sunshine is. Whatever is in the cards for her, I hope it comes in the form of truth instead of more tail-chasing. If there is no future, let her walk away. If things can be salvaged, let it happen now.

No one should have to lose the same person over and over. It's a personal hell that fire and chains cannot touch.