To my "mother".
Hello dear friend,
Mother's day has always been complicated for me. What about you? The title "mother" is a foreign one because to me it hears/reads more like a verb than a noun. This was a day that was seldom celebrated. When it was, it felt more like a day we were trying to make up for a lot of poor treatment she was enduring from Y. The meaning of Mother's day really changed for me on May 17, 2017 with one friend, who is my oldest friend to this day. Today I feel an especial need to lift her up. Here's why:
--she always kept her door open for me--
She has seen me in and out of promising relationships that turned out to be toxic and cancerous. She's witnessed me struggling with myself and she's been there for me when the struggle was so hard that I self medicated with alcohol. She knew how tumultuous my living circumstance was. She had always reminded me that despite the size of her place, I would always have a home there with her. I was always afraid of how it could change our friendship so I was never able to follow through, until the day I literally had nowhere else to go. I found myself to be homeless and returning to Toronto on Mother's day, May 17, 2017. She was the only person I could call and she took me in without skipping a beat.
--she had always nurtured me--
Our friendship wasn't always perfect. It grew to be perfect in its strength and its fruits. We've definitely had some bumps in the road during the strengthening phases. I was on a steady downhill to a place where I was limited in my ability to have hope. I was unable to be generous in return, while she was steadfast and strong in her generosity. She had her beliefs and her opinions and I had mine. She often planted seeds, yet she was never forceful with her way of thinking. She had the wisdom to allow time do its work and continued to be a light, as the roots began to grow. Our trials felt more like a vineyard exposed to harsh soil, only to encourage the grapes to dig deeper roots and yield better fruit.
--she always provided for me--
It's true. As if dinners wasn't enough, she would encourage me to go out for a night on the town. These were one of the ways she reminded me to still be a girl and have fun with her. She funded our nights out and even a trip to a music festival in Montreal. I have a hard time accepting generosity from people. She had a way of allowing me to feel at ease and feel more than welcome. The generosity did catch up to me and weigh on me, though. Even though I had it in the back of my mind to always give back ten folds of what she had done, it tugged at me..hard. The weight started to seep out of me and challenged our relationship. I was in full blown "imapieceofshit" mode with a (supersized) side serving of "ihavenoloveformyself", and no one could stop me from spiralling. Sure I had a part time job, but it didn't pay enough. Much of that was funded into school. We took some time and licked our wounds. We came back stronger than ever and I don't think I still ever explained to her what happened for me. She may have had an idea, or she may read this one day and get it. But that's what is so amazing about her. It didn't matter because she knew where I was at and she loved me unconditionally, even then.
--she had always prayed for me.. she still does--
This always brings me to me knees when think about how faithful she had been all those years.. even on my behalf. I had an incredibly complicated relationship with God. I had experienced some toxic relationships with immature boys who felt an importance to christianity. I felt like they really hoped for a "God-centred" relationship. However, because they themselves didn't know how to "lead" or "guide" a relationship with a young girlfriend, their intention quickly soured and the relationships grew amoral. In the Korean community, the culture and community itself is just as toxic as it comes. I didn't feel I was able to lean on anyone for the support that I desperately needed. I felt estranged to it. I created a very specific place in my heart for this level of disdain I had for the Korean church, the community, and its people.
Despite my turmoil with God (the "idea" of God, back then), she prayed for me and if our conversation allowed, she would tell me with sensitivity. When she took me in on May 17, 2017, she made a request to attend a non Korean church with her. I was taken aback by the condition, but I had no fight left in me to run from God. The day I landed happened to be on a Sunday. I was worn and weary. There was never a dramatic "I've been found" moment the day I stepped into that church. But that was the day I decided to put my faith back into God, as I was climbing my way back out of rock bottom.
After coming into my own through the healing, I can look back with a clear understanding of how powerful her thoughts, words and her prayers were for me. After all these years, she truly was the one person (not blood related) who was stubborn in her love and care for me. I know I wouldn't be here without her as the common denominator in the past 12 years.
So to my dearest friend, sister, mother, thank you. I know I wouldn't have made it to this point, full of life and love, without you pouring yourself onto me all these years. Happy Mother's day to you and all the other mothers who are faithfully and lovingly protecting their own.
--to you, the one who feels alone--
Navigating through any difficult time takes an inordinate toll on your mind, body and spirit. Some of you may be surrounded by people who you are comfortable talking to. Please share your challenges with them. These people are lifelines during these difficult times. They are strategically positioned in your life to listen to you and help you find your way when your path isn't clear. For others, maybe you have a hard time trusting people. I know how this feels, because I've been there before. My correspondence with my friend was few and far between in the beginning (maybe once or twice a year..three times in a good year). I understand the feeling of being ashamed about your circumstance. I understand the desire for self preservation. This is a gentle reminder that self preservation isn't a viable solution when you are silently hurting beyond your means of processing. If you are silently hurting on a downward road of despair, you are deteriorating. Nothing is worth compromising your health, safety and quality of life. I encourage you to take the brave step in talking to someone about your difficulties.
One thing I am beginning to understand is that it can be easier to talk to someone who might not know you, as well as a friend. If seeking help from a therapist feels impossible at this time, maybe consider someone like an acquaintance, someone who frequents the same coffee shop, a teacher or someone from an online community. Sharing stories with someone a little more distant can feel less intimidating because there is less context on your history that the person knows. When we share our difficulties with individuals like this, we tend to feel less judgement and therefore less of a need to hide a lot of details. At the end of the day, if you can't be real with your friends, how can you call them your real ones?
Additional message: **During this time of COVID-19, there has been a significant rise in domestic violence and abuse. Where isolation is an effective strategy for everyone's safety, it is not the case for several victims. Please call 9-1-1 if you are feeling unsafe and please find a local shelter by any means necessary. It is important to look after your health and well being. I encourage all victims to be gentle and tender with yourselves in everything that you do, during this incredibly difficult time. You are more precious and worth far greater than you've been treated otherwise.
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