Today it’s been a year since I made the decision to end my relationship with my mother on my terms. I’ve been reflecting this week on that decision and on who I am a year later.
I remember the night I spent writing that final letter… how surreal it was to choose the last words I planned to ever say to my mother, how I stared at the screen for hours after it was done, preparing myself to click send, dreading whatever would come after.
I remember the next morning when I sent the letter, clicking “send” and bracing myself for a feeling of regret or panic and fear… how I immediately felt relief and this almost dizzying sense of weightlessness. I remember how strange it felt to have finally really done it, the feeling that I’d finally snipped all the way through a cord that had been strangling the living shit out of me.
I remember the sporadic tears that escaped throughout the next several days, knowing that the rest of my family would be gone from my life as a result of my decision (by their choice), fearing how untethered I felt, worrying about how quiet my head felt all of the sudden, panicked at how alone I feared I might be now, and sometimes simple tears of relief because it was done.
I remember my first day of therapy, sitting down, taking a deep breath, and slowly telling my story to someone who had just met me. I remember finishing my story… “and then I sent an email and ended the relationship…” looking up from telling the whole history, expecting and even bracing myself for a challenge or a criticism at the news that I’d disowned my own mother. I vividly remember that moment, because I had been prepared for any response except the one I got, which was a very heartfelt, “Congratulations.”
The year before I made this decision was a year of positive external growth. I was running, I was losing weight, I was making strides professionally, I was marching through the last year of my 20’s with a mission. I was ultimately becoming enough of my own person to take this huge step of letting go.
The year after I made this decision has been a year of amazing internal growth. I already had a strong outer foundation, a new, healthy body to live in and then suddenly there was a huge quiet space in my life where there had always been either turmoil or the imminent danger of turmoil. I suddenly had the things I wanted and a true quiet in which to enjoy it.
In contrast to the previous year of physical challenges and pushing myself past my limits, this past year has taught me that a quiet life is a safe place to call home. A quiet head, absent of planted self-doubt and fear, is a head that now has time to truly think. I love my husband with a better understanding of why he would ever love me. I understand my worth and value the loyalty and love of the family I’ve built for myself. I trust my instincts. I almost never flinch when I hear a car door slam. I allow myself to imagine that I might be a really wonderful mother.
It still hurts that it couldn’t have been different, but there’s no regret. This first year has only served to solidify the understanding that I just could never be Me within that entangled mess. I never understood that until I turned it off and really heard my own thoughts inside a quiet head, living a quiet life.
There are certainly things that I miss. There are places and moments I miss. There are people I miss, although never her. There are things that I lost in the deal that aren’t easily replaced or rebuilt without the family within which a person has grown all their life.
But the quiet… holy mother of… I just can’t express how much I love the quiet. I’m so fucking grateful for the quiet in my head and for that alone it was so goddamn worth it. There is quiet room inside my Self for more now, and my only real regret this week has been that I didn’t build it sooner.