Legacies…Handle with Care

In the wave pool at Mandalay Bay on vacation, I was so close to breaking down in tears. I do not know why. Perhaps it was the lifeguard having to correct me in where I was standing- I was to be on the sidewalk or fully in the water- not the ankle-deep level I had chosen for myself. The world spun off this simple comment, and I thought to myself, “I can’t do this anymore”.

Back on the beach- safely in the proper location- I thought of my mother. She suffered severe depression for a decade. She had contemplated suicide several times. My mom was eventually able to pull herself out of this depression, much to her credit. But, I will always remember that time and wonder about the legacies we all end up living.

Reading another’s blog this a.m. helped me to realize how much we can be pulling along, deep within ourselves. I have found the best way to handle such legacies is prayer and a willingness to explore the feelings and emotions attached. For me, it means looking at what it meant to be a child with someone wanting to kill themselves. How did this affect my level of trust? Also, surprisingly, my belief that I can “fix” it all. My mom often confided in me, and used me to help her with her depression. This lead to a false sense in me that everyone’s problems were mine to take on and that the solutions were within me.

I wonder about the legacies of others. Who is living now with a sense of unworthiness or unlikablity simply because someone tried to pass this on to him or her long ago? As I have gotten older, I realize how much help we may need as we deal with such legacies, and how much patience and love we must be willing to give ourselves.

Being Clean

At years 30, or was it 40?
My mother quit –
living and life

She took up residency
upon back, in bed
for a decade

Dark, except TV light

TV light is not
real light and
Depression is not
real living

We had moments,
holiday celebrations.

Other families have
crest and emblems,
We had motto, during the
depressive years-

“Life sucks, then you die”-

A stake through the heart of
Every greeting card claim

Blame was not as forthcoming,
as confusion,
What sets one’s living back?

She was saved by cleanliness.
Her mental faculties hinged upon
not making a mess.

Our home growing up
was a testament to this belief.
Later, it became her profession
in the home of others.

She told me suicide
was an option, except
it would leave a mess.

Unsure, was I,
to laugh or to cry
at how death may play
out our lives.

Some may see her,
Flat upon back, and think
Mid-life crisis-ing

I would think
“land of the living”
“we should not judge the trying.”


9 thoughts on “Legacies…Handle with Care

  1. I love your amazing insight into of the impact of your mother’s legacy on your life.And I’m so glad that you have realised that no matter what you have passed on to you, you deserve to be treated with kindness, patience and love.

    • It was strange to see that awareness in myself- I truly thought I could solve everyone’s problems, because I helped her with her depression. Funny, what we carry with us from childhood…

  2. It crossed my mind so long ago that becoming ‘parents’ doesn’t come with any instructions and we all go about it ‘by the seat of our pants’. We really don’t realize what we are teaching our children or what we are giving them. It does come down to each of us, when we are adults, to attempt to put it all in order and it’s not always easy. I went to my Reiki healing cards…and drew THE CAVE (struggle with ego). the balance between humility and ego control. The affirmation said ‘as I enter the cave of my deepest self, may I be willing to wrestle with my darkness (name it), so that I may be spiritually enlightened and move up the mountain.’ For some, the path of life is very very hard.

  3. Several days later, but I’ve come back to it. My apologies for the delay.

    I still remember the first time I met an ex-girlfriend of mine and her two children in 2005. Her daughter was sitting on the front porch playing with her dog and, upon recognising me come up to the steps, asked if I wanted to see her dog do a trick. The trick was simple, to sit down, if I recall correctly, but the encounter was not a simple one.

    It wasn’t simple because her six year-old daughter didn’t have a habit of talking to anyone, not even family members, and yet she took to me immediately. This was something that her family remarked on and was not lost on me, though I did nothing different after I found out. I continued to treat her as a small adult and in the unfortunate relationship I had with her mother she a near ever-present companion.

    We broke up, finally, about a year later. Two years after that I saw her again when her mother and I attempted to be friends. Her mother, the new boyfriend and I were going to go out and she had just finished getting dressed after taking a shower. Her hair was still dripping wet and I told her that if she didn’t brush her hair soon it would become tangled and a pain in the ass to brush later. Without a word she got up, went upstairs, came back down with a paddle brush and began to half-heartedly brush her hair.

    I took the brush from her after a little while and began to brush out her hair, continuing a conversation with her mother that I no longer remember. The new boyfriend asked her daughter why she didn’t let him brush her hair and the simple, amused response was ‘he always does it.’ A bit of an exaggeration, of course, but the spirit of the statement was true. I treated her children like they were mine and, even though we weren’t together or had even been in contact for a few years, those behaviours fell right back into place.

    Attempting to be friends did not work out and, again, years went by before her mother and I were in contact again. This time it was about five years. The relationship that her mother and I had was not good, neither one of us were angels and, in fact, on enough occasions for us to both be ashamed we were quite terrible. It was a bad time for us as people and together, but we took care of the children and treated them well. But what they saw from us was important, the shameful examples we set with one another.

    Sometime over the next weekend her mother, my girlfriend and I are going to be getting together for the first time in about five years

    Both she and her brother will be gone over that weekend, a request that I made out of respect for the children. The relationship went poorly and attempts at being friends simply did not work, yet within that relationship with my ex-girlfriend there is a dynamic with her children that cannot be avoided. I am cognisant of the impact that I might have on them and want that to be a positive one, for whatever potential damage I did by being in and out of their lives to be offset by a stable and positive influence.

    I mention all of this because we must be cognisant of the legacies we leave, the impact that we have upon our children and even if they aren’t our children. We must be cognisant of them because, unlike with adults, it is often the case that any damage we do to our children, no matter how minute, can have incredible and lasting implications. I still love her children and when we broke up all those years ago I never stopped thinking about them on a daily basis, especially her daughter with whom I had that special connexion. I still do and would like to have a positive impact in their lives.

    But I can’t know what sort of impact I can have, now, not yet. Out of respect for those children as people, as real people, I’m not going to see them yet -or at all. Respect is something I don’t think very many parents or parental figures instil in their children and because they don’t treat them with any real respect. It’s something I’d like to challenge every parent to consider, to really consider: all things considered, do you really treat your children with respect and as if they really matter?

    I know that I do; it’s why I’ve always been good with children.

    • Great response. YOur honesty about your own behaviors and how they may affect the children, enable you to have a sense of awareness that I am sure the children are responding to. Good for you for putting them first and protecting them!

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