Full Circle

I’ve been very secretive about some things going on in my life, but they have had a profound effect on me, so it felt like time to share. Yep, this is one of those personal, life story blog posts, although it is somewhat writing related. You’ll see why. Sorry if you’re only here for the writing stuff. You’ll have to get to know me a little this time around.

At the end of March, I had a hysterectomy. Now, for some, this would be a traumatic experience, but it truly wasn’t. You see, my reproductive system and I have never been friends. We had a brief truce for a short period of time that brought me a gorgeous child. But other than that, we were bitter enemies. I wasn’t sad to see the main troublemaker go. I was actually looking forward to it. 

It’s an odd thing. My womb was gone, and in that same week, I nearly lost the woman who carried me in her womb. It’s a long story, and not one I think my mother is particularly keen to share, but I thought my husband was communicating with my mother during my recovery. He thought I was. By the time we realized, neither of us had talked to her in a week. We all tried to call her to no avail and my husband rushed to check on her. As I recovered from my surgery, my mother collapsed in her home, was unable to get up for a while, and very nearly died. My husband found her unconscious. 

She has thankfully pulled through, but the outcome completely changed our lives. 

Mentally, my mother is as okay as she ever was. She’s always struggled with some mental issues, but she’s feisty and funny and, after a slight struggle, is 100% back to who she had been. Physically, though, she’s weaker than she was, and since April, she’s been in a physical rehabilitation center until she can get back on her feet. 

My mother had lived in the same apartment for 42 years, so the place had managed to accumulate a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff. All of which she kept. But after being stuck in that place as she was, unable to move, my mother didn’t want to go back. 

I set about cleaning out her apartment, scoring her a new one, and preparing it for her return home. And in the midst of all that, after visiting my mother regularly, something in our relationship shifted. We’d had this terribly complex relationship, both with our fair share of mental illness that would grind together whenever we butted heads. She has been mellowing out quite a bit as she’s grown older, and in this time, we have repaired a lot of it. Is it still fragile? It may always be. 

And then I received the proof for an upcoming anthology I will be published in. My essay in that anthology is about generational mental illness and how my mother’s sometimes abusive behavior impacted my life and informed the way I raised my son. There isn’t a single word I wrote that was untrue, but I find myself feeling horrendously guilty. 

In her famous writing book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott wrote, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” And perhaps that’s true. But it’s a complicated feeling. 

My relationship with my mother is healing. I’ve cast a discussion out into the world about that relationship at its worst. 

The point was important, and I believe that what I wrote will have a chance to help another. In the end, as a writer, I know I must be true to myself and what I’m trying to say, despite the difficulties it may cause. 

Still, I cringe whenever I read it. Have any of you ever put something in writing and had regrets afterwards? Share in the comments and make me feel better. :/

10 thoughts on “Full Circle

  1. Hola Justa!!! I’m sorry you feel this way about what you wrote. I think you should not feel guilty, because the things that happened to you truly happened and the way you felt about it then was truly real. I understand why you feel that way, since I’ve lived through my share of maternal insanity with my mother. But think, that just like you have the power to make better choices in the way you raise your son, our mothers could have done things a bit different and chose not to. You are an amazing woman, mother and daughter. Keep up the good work girlfriend 😘

  2. Write your story child. I’ve been where you are. History is History. It shouldn’t be sugar coated because it is a lesson for those who read about it. It does no good if it isn’t true. Love You Sweetheart.

    1. Thank you. I love you too.

      What you’re saying is the very reason I am so open about everything we, as a family, deal with. Ismael, Logan, and I have actually had discussions about this and we agree, if the harder parts we go through, when shared, help others, then we should share.

  3. Justine, we all own what we write or at least I hope I have. Mental illness has been a factor in my life for generations. Unfortunately I am the first to actually admit and do something to alleviate the poop I have caused. Any writing is a release. I am sure yours will help heal and bring you and your Mom even closer. My girls and I had a “family chat” about a year ago. It was a bit rough but worked out nicely. I hope you will have much happiness sweetie.

    1. Thank you so much! Love you!

      For me, I feel like it’s been in the family for generations, but my generation is the first one to look at the way things have been and say NOPE. I’ve made mistakes myself, but acknowledging them goes such a long way towards healing. I’m so glad you and the girls had that talk. I’ve had that talk with Mom as well. Sometimes, things are still rocky, but it has opened a whole new avenue for communication. I wish you every happiness as well. ❤

  4. I think I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum–afraid to write really raw, honest things because I want so badly not to hurt anyone. So I pull all the punches and play it safe–and then the writing falls flat and isn’t meaningful. Trying to work on that, but it’s hard.

    I am glad your relationship is improving. Really, really glad. But it doesn’t make the hard times disappear or not be important. And maybe it will help someone.

    And maybe, somewhere down the road, you’ll have a new, honest story to write that comes from where your relationship is at that point.

    All the love and hugs to you. ❤

    1. I used to do the same exact thing! And then I opened up and my guts came pouring out. LOL

      I think there are ways to do it that can protect you and those around you. My way was not that way! But if you’re writing fiction, there are definitely ways to bury the rawness in a character enough that it doesn’t spell out what personal experience you’ve learned this pain from. If you ever want to talk to me about anything, feel free to send me a private message and we can discuss the best ways to dig deep without making a mess all over the place. I promise, I know how! 😉

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I sincerely hope my truth helps others.

      Love and hugs right back at you! ❤

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