In the past few hours I’ve collected 4 bags of garbage from the remaining boxes. That was not easy for me. I’m not done yet but I’m done for the night because my heart feels raw and my eyes keep watering 💛
But ultimately, it’s not fun for me to look at things from my past - which is all these boxes contain.
Sometimes I come across really sacred treasures (like this adorable vintage card pictured above) which makes it worth facing the things that have shaped me, but I’m really looking forward to being free of all the reminders for good.
It still hurts but I know it hurts less each year and I know I go through as much as my heart can handle each time I try to face these things. Why else would I still be sorting through these things 9 years after my mom passed? Like I said, it’s not easy. Not because she passed but because of our difficult relationship and all that created for me in my life.
My mom wrote poetry. I have two of her collections. I still can’t bring myself to read through them but I will one day and I will most likely turn her words into art.
I have read some of her journal entries though and they are so sad. I see my pain in her and I know I’ve carried her pain most of my life.
I am so sad for the life she endured. I am so sad to read her words and feel all her pain. That was my life. And that’s still me when I get too close to her things. And no, it’s not as simple as gutting these things. They hold gifts even if I can’t access them quite yet.
Truth is truth and darkness is universal and I would like to integrate her words into something healing that others could benefit from.
She really wanted to write a book on depression (I found the title of it amongst her papers today) because she felt no one understood it, especially those handing out the meds and giving her tips to cope, and she really wanted people to understand the depth of hell she experienced since around the age of 15.
I do know what happened to her. I know why she couldn’t find the light and It’s beyond heartbreaking. And I may name it one day on her behalf.
I can’t blame my mother for being unable to give me something she was not given and couldn’t give herself. She didn’t get the help she truly needed even though she tried to heal with tons of different meds and books and therapy. But nothing worked for her. She was in so much inner pain. She was in the darkness much of my life and sadly I was in the darkness for much of Paige’s life 😭
I wish that wasn’t the case but we’re all human and we can only do our best and we can’t blame ourselves or others for all the wounds we carry that were passed through generations of other wounded humans.
All we can do is heal.
Reading some of my mother’s words today filled me with so much compassion for all of us who are or have been stuck in the dark and can’t find our way out.
I never met anyone who was as unhappy and as self-protective as my mom. And it’s strange meeting people who have known her but never saw what I saw and lived with day to day. Masks can veil so much. Everyone’s out here just trying to survive, you know? And we can act happy or funny or fine even when we’re dying inside.
I know my mom loved me as fully as she was able to. I know she didn’t mean harm. I know she was a product of her own painful and traumatic upbringing. I know she did better with me than her mom did with her and I’ve done better with Paige than my mom did with me.
I know we can only ever do our part in each generation to lessen the burdens of the next one, and we do that by doing our own work. That is the hardest work of life and our greatest contribution to life. Healing. Looking within. Visiting those dark corners in our minds and our hearts that make it painful to exist, and finding ways to soften those spots.
Every layer and level of healing we do individually makes a very real difference in the collective. We are never finished but we should always be striving to unearth the parts of ourselves that keep us separate from ourselves and from one another.
It has taken me 9 years to face and deal with my mom’s things (well there’s still some left but I trust I can finish that in the near future) and I trust the timing of it all because we are not meant to do it all at once. Our growth happens as it happens. And when we hit a wall inside ourselves, it’s ok to stop and soften and come back to that spot at another time.
I return to my mom’s things only AFTER big times of transformation because then I have more strength with each round to face what remains. And lately I’ve been feeling so amazing that I felt ready for more digging and more feeling and more revelations and of course even more healing.
There is zero competition in this game. There is no time limit and there is no finish line. There is just moment after moment awareness and perpetual experiences that highlight the things we most need to work on inside ourselves.
We each have a unique set of lessons so please trust that your struggles are what’s required to turn you into the person you long to be. They are there to shape you into that vision. I promise.
And for anyone reading this, I wish you deep peace, deep love, deep healing, deep feelings and a very deep connection to the truth of who you are.
And I thank you for reading my heart as it explores the gifts and the tender spots found within these boxes.
POST SCRIPT: I DID IT!
FRIENDS!!!!!!! THIS IS ALL I’M KEEPING OF MY MOTHER’S!!!! I DID IT!!!
All that remains apart from the antiques I kept is an envelope with a few special things (her newspaper feature as the first female bricklayer in North America and some certificates of hers like her Masonry Program Diploma), two collections of her poems and a few of her writings, and her President’s Honour List certificate from the Masonry Program at Conestoga College.
I think one day I will frame her certificates. And one day I will read her poems and if it feels right and wonderful, I may publish them in honour of her. We will see what the future brings but OH MY GOD!!! This is all that’s left!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
No more boxes of mom’s things. Not one!
The next chapter of Mandyland begins now.
“Layer after layer... This is powerful transformative work and you are so right to do what you're ready for and what you have enough strength for. When we first met it wasn't that long after your mom had passed away you did a lot then and you're doing a lot now. This work becomes more and more granular and with each layer you build more muscle and you make more space for your own transformation. Sending love and big hugs!” Cecilia Moorcroft
“I love you soo much Mandy 😚❤ so much hugs of kindness & warmth for you. ❤with all my heart thankyou for pouring your soul out tears of compassion falling you are such a strong beautiful soul.” Michelle Ruthven