This month on my new site, Trauma to Art, our theme is regret. People have sent in really thoughtful prose on the topic. My brilliant writers inspired me to contemplate the perspective of time. The loss I experience continues to change as the years pass. Even if I had spent every waking minute with my mother until the day she died, I would still be here. At 25, I have no mom to talk with about my romantic relationships. She loved gossip and giving advice so I know she would have taken great pride in being my shoulder to cry on and my closest advisor.
I try to find substitutes. My father says when it’s right you feel it. This advice is too rose-colored glasses for me. It’s also a ton of pressure to put on my feelings. Sometimes I feel like watching 90210 reruns instead of working but it doesn’t mean I should. Giving my feelings that much weight would set me up to fail at love every time. I assume everyone feels a laundry list of emotions throughout the years of any relationship, good or bad. But it’s not as if our feelings get us out of our responsibility to love one another unconditionally. What they say about friendship is really true of love too. If you go out into the world looking for love, you’ll find none. If you go out into the world giving love, you’ll find there’s no shortage.
Three months ago I found a letter my mother wrote to a friend in 2002 that made me question if that was really true. She said she put everything aside whenever her kids or husband needed something and she never complained. She went on to write, “Unfortunately, it was not reciprocal.” Excuse me while I remove this dagger from my heart. It’s taken me this long to figure out how I feel about these new pangs of guilt.
I won’t deny her feelings but there are several secrets hidden behind her sentiment. She rarely, if ever, asked us to make sacrifices for her because she didn’t want to ask us that. She wanted to be the mother that was always there, the one that the neighborhood kids would never forget. The mother that people want to nominate for sainthood. And she did that. People don’t email me about this blog because they feel obligated. She wanted to be unforgettable, and I have an inbox of proof that she was.
Now I feel that love is integral but a better explanation of romantic partnership and personal goals lies in the law of attraction. It’s easy to see our lives as a reflection of the things we’ve done and the decisions we have made. I’d argue our lives are a reflection of what we are attracting into our lives. That way we all stay responsible. My mother wanted a loving and loyal partner who always put her first. She didn’t want to sacrifice seeing her children grow up and develop for a career. In my eyes, she was quite successful in reaching those goals.
My mother may have doubted her influence but it may have been hard for people to see that when she was so obviously a powerful life force. Dealing with the loss of my mother’s force will undoubtedly lead to confusion as I age. I still hear people say that my mother knew I would marry my last boyfriend. I now see she thought that because that’s the type of husband she looked for and because that’s the life she wanted.
These days everyone is quick to question my current boyfriend of a year. They feel he is not right for me. But their feelings, like all feelings, have hidden secrets behind them. Unlike my mother, I want a partner who challenges convention like me. I want a partner who will fly to see me for less than 24 hours. I want a partner who understands that we don’t have to be each other’s whole world. And despite not having the same priorities for relationships as my mother, I think she would be happy to know that I attracted just that into my life.