I was right on time yesterday for the lunch date I had with her. As I walked in the door at the local dive we had agreed to, I glanced over the room to find her. At the corner of the room, she was sitting in a booth, positioned to where she would easily be able to see me come in. As I noticed her, a deep sorrow overwhelmed me. I noticed her face — pale and withered. Worn. Completely defeated.
I sat down across from her as we greeted each other. It had been a little over a week since we had actually been together, so we took the first few minutes as opportunity to catch up. Nothing much had changed, we found. We were just poking along within our personal worlds. It was a bit difficult for me to conduct myself in an unsuspicious manner, for I was still inside my head. I was glancing at the mascara from one eye that had somehow worked its way to her upper cheek just inside the lens of her glasses. I was looking over the pale and painted face that sat before me, and my sorrow turned to empathy.
We gabbed along after she had told me that the life of hers was still, “the same old shit”. I understood. She is still living alone with her two dogs, nourishing herself with ample amounts of caffeinated drinks and strong cigarettes. Still in a bind with her estranged husband. Still very worn and defeated. I told her about my life — work, rest, kids and a little time with my wife. Things are constantly busy in my world, but in hers, things are always, “the same old shit”.
I sometimes (many times) have to hold my tongue when speaking with her. It took me a good amount of time over the last several months to arrive at just keeping my mouth shut when something hits me in the ways I am still trying to process — the ways that tear me up inside. Those ways that have my emotions kneading me into a ball of tension. Thankfully, I handled myself. I tasted my words before swallowing them down, just in time before they had left my mouth. I’d rather choke on the bitterness of them instead of giving this woman anymore grief.
We had been to therapy together. We had heard each other out several times over many subjects in a controlled environment. We needed that, for our tempers would flare and the words were not heard from either one of us. Responses were mere reactions, and the two of us would just waste our time there. I had stopped attending with her several months ago, but I was so pleased to hear that she was still seeing Linda each week. Linda, the therapist, knows a lot about her, myself and her estranged husband. I listened to her latest visit with Linda, and it sounded like it was good for both of them. I think they really enjoy speaking with each other, and I also know that my mom is seeing her simply because she needs a friend.
My mother told me about the horror stories of what she is going through with her, “pending ex”. Their situation is unique, and very weird. I won’t go into detail. But, my mother is kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place — financially, mentally and physically. Her husband is a piece of work, and she is doing the best she can. Although, her means of coping are a bit out of sorts. I was listening to everything she was saying, and I let some semi- bitter words out. I simply — yet, calmly — mentioned the fact that she was living in fear from month to month while awaiting his graciousness — financially. It frustrates me to see an ignorant man place his thumb on someone and hold them down simply because he is the bread winner. Each month, she waits to see if she will be able to keep her home, her sanity and her life. She’s already halfway gone, and the burden at hand only adds to the defeated persona I instantly noticed when spotting her in that booth yesterday.
I just listened. I backed off of my frustration, and simply listened. While doing so, I was back inside my head and processing myself. In and out, I would soak up what she was saying, then think it over. Responding, not reacting. Kindly respecting her responses, and decisions. I just told myself — even when I did not agree — that it is her life. All that I am responsible for is being kind, gentle, loving and supportive.
I know a defeated woman, and I call her mom. We have been through so much together. We have said the meanest things possible to each other, and her decisions as I was growing up really made me into a hardened man. I blamed her for many things that had me really messed up, shunned her for the life I could not manage ( because I failed to handle mine) and scolded her severely for it all. Yesterday, as I sat down across from her, it all left. It all disappeared. I simply saw the defeated woman who will always be my mother. I saw her scars, both physical and mental, and I watched the empty shell of a woman holding on for very little reason.
I praise God this morning for the change He has placed within my heart. He has shown/ is showing me things that I am embracing more and more throughout this journey. He is producing those things not found in the natural man’s heart. The heart — deceitful above all things. Desperately wicked. A heart I am beginning to understand a bit more through the experience I am having with my mother. The fragility of another is teaching me just how fragile life really is.
Today is Thanksgiving. I will be with her and my family tomorrow, and we will definitely be thankful for what we have. Today, I am simply thankful for what the Lord has provided. Some people just don’t know how blessed they truly are, and some go without having much of anything. But, the blessings that come from within us are truly where the things that really matter lie.