I’m not sure when I stopped dreading weekends and coming home after being gone all day. All of fifteen and I breathe shallow years that come with the push of a grocery cart down the liquor aisle with my mother. The aisle next to my favorite cereal and frozen pizza snacks I chose for dinner.
She grabs Boone’s Farm from the shelf, lays it on top of the Milano cookies. I look at my watch, count the hours of dread before a new day dawns.
I escape the unwelcome transformation of my mother through the portal of prime time. Learn from the Brady’s and the Partridge Family what “normal” families do on weekends.
My mother and I, we mesh in the familiar weekend dance of escaping soul pain; offering consolation for the guilt on the edge of blankets with cigarette holes the next morning. It takes me a long time to let go of the false responsibility for the happiness of her misery.
Because honoring your father and mother doesn’t mean fixing them. Sometimes the most honoring thing you can do is let go.
The fear that comes with what I can’t control, it returns the day the line turns pink on the pregnancy test. After all, I did such a poor job parenting my mother; it terrifies me to think of the mistakes I might make with the clean slate of brand new life.
But redemption, it pushes through the birth canal in the tiny toes and wiggly fingers that pulse with my DNA. And God reveals how much he trusts me by granting the gift of motherhood.
An awakening to the realization that the pages of my life, they are not authored or edited based on my circumstances. My history as a child of an alcoholic shapes who I am, it doesn’t define me.
Because when I look into the eyes of my daughter at the dinner table, she sees her mother. The mother, who cuddles with her on the couch, knows what kind of gum she chews, saves the last cookie in the jar, and hangs up the pile of clothes at the bottom of her closet when life gets overwhelming.
With every stage of parenting I am more fully awake to the knowledge that His plan for my life, for your life, they aren’t dependent on our experience or circumstance or the things we do for acceptance. And the deepest transformation often comes in packages labeled Beyond Your Experience and Instructions Not Required.
I find myself whispering worry prayers blanketed in the fear that I’m not doing enough. Am I doing enough to train my daughter to live on her own? Am I doing enough to be a successful writer? Am I doing enough to cultivate a hunger for Jesus in the heart of my children?
I’m the centurion (Matthew 8) asking Jesus what to do to resurrect the dead places, avoid death altogether. His answer has always been, trust me.
It’s Saturday and H pushes the grocery cart down the wide aisle at Costco. He holds up two bottles of Cabernet and arches his eyebrows for my approval. They find a place on top of the box of frozen pizzas and cereal. And I realize, I haven’t thought about watching the Brady’s for years.
He could plainly see that she was not herself. That is, he could not see that she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world. ~The Awakening, Chopin
Joining the synchroblog at SheLoves/Magazine.com to share my story of awakening for their September theme of Awake. You can share your story too.
In community Michelle, Laura, Jen, Eileen and with Ann to count gifts. I’m thankful for a mid-day walk on the beach, for the new shoes that left footprints in the sand to follow back home, for the sand crabs that scurry down under and pelicans flying low over the water.
Shelly, I’d have never guessed you lived through this. God has surely redeemed your life from destruction and crowned you with loving-kindness, given you beauty for ashes and the oil of joy instead of depression. How you do show redemption’s beauty in your life and in your art. ~ Hugs.
Debra, its hard to write about but feeling the nudge to do it more now. I’ve written about it in bits and pieces but I didn’t want my first year of blogging to be defined by this part of my life. It’s why I call my blog Redemptions Beauty. Thank you for the life giving words in your comment. I so appreciate you.
This is SO beautiful and deep on many levels. Yes living in chaos is hard, and I love your truth, we can’t fix them. It is very honoring to ‘let go’ and let consequences become their teacher.
Thank you Sharon, its like walking a tight rope to write about it. Appreciate your comment.
Oh Shelly…I love continuing to get a glimpse into all that brought you to this place…all the glorious redeeming Love of the Father…and yes…don’t you love that He knows who are are in Him…so He knows we have what it takes to be a parent. blessings as we continue to trust Him…that He is enough to parent through us:)
These translucent, beautiful shots juxtaposed with your story ripple peace over it all, Shelly… a sort of cleansing, ocean-scented, redemption – breezing through those awful cobweb memories and sending clean, pure, sweet air of Jesus to open windows and blow out any last dank and musty-hanging odors. I pray the picture of fresh billowy white curtains freely blowing out the windows of your soul now… only the fragrance of His love covering it all.
Glad you got the message in the imagery Pam, and your words here are just breathtaking. Thank you. I’ve read them many times since you left them.
oh, shelly. this piece gets to the heart of it all. you were made under the umbrella of circumstance – but you have chosen to dip out….to dance in the rain. right out here with you, laughing as mascara runs down our face…rejoicing in the beautiful mess of it all.
That image of dancing with the umbrella and the mascara running – it has stuck with me all morning. Thank you Tara. Love the way you see the words. We are kindred that way.
What a beautiful post, Shelly!
I especially like how you said this: “An awakening to the realization that the pages of my life, they are not authored or edited based on my circumstances. My history as a child of an alcoholic shapes who I am, it doesn’t define me.”
…and so difficult to explain, sometimes…how our past experiences shapes us without defining who we are…
It’s something common to so many as I coach women. The struggle to let go of the memories that try to entangle us by definition. Thanks for saying so Joe.
Shelly, I love that while we are formed by our experiences (of course we are!), we can also be so much more than the parts. Thanks for to God for breathing life into that which is in need of it!.
We are truly so much more than our circumstances, aren’t we?
How beautiful His redemptive grace has been in your life. You make me hungry for more of Him.
That is perhaps the best compliment I have received Kim. Humble thanks friend.
Oh Shelly…deeply touched by all you’ve said here…and all you haven’t said. It’s a hard thing. I know. BUT GOD…my two favourite words in all of Scripture…BUT GOD redeems the years the locust has eaten. Amen. I was so very determined to be what a mother should be, and I know He has helped me to do so. In fact, being a Mom is the one thing I know I’ve done well. Not perfectly…but well. And when those ‘triggers’ come, like walking the grocery aisle, or seeing the ‘Bradys’ or the ‘Partridges’, or when we’re face-to-face with someone whose had ‘one too many’, we remember…and give great “Thanks” to The One who gave us a new beginning, a clean slate, a new life. (2 Cor. 5:17) MY verse. Oh the beauty of it all!
Yes, its my mantra too Jillie. But God . . .in all areas of life that seem impossible. He is the God that surprises me, almost every day.
Oh, Shelly, this awakening is beautiful. For far too long I let my father’s alcoholism define who I am. I’m still waking up to the real me:)
And, Shelly? I forgot to say thank you for praying. We need prayer right now. Just, thank you.
It’s a privilege Laura. Really.
I didn’t realize we had that in common Laura, but I sensed that we were kindred in some way. And I think we’ll be waking up to who we are until we take our last breath. It just feels like more work for those who have been through what we have.
Lovely, Shelly. Truly.
you are a brave woman…I am challenged and transformed by reading your words…your authenticity shines through your artistry…
I like those words challenged and transformed. God is good at that, isn’t He? Grateful you dropped by today.
Oh, my… What an incredible statement: “Because honoring your father and mother doesn’t mean fixing them. Sometimes the most honoring thing you can do is let go.” If nothing else, nobody else, I needed this!
Thank you for your beautiful words, sweet friend!!
Oh wow, that blesses me Stefanie, to know that. God is good.
Gorgeous, Shelly. I love this line: it shapes who I am, it doesn’t define me. Girl, that right there will PREACH. What a fabulous message for women/people of every age and stage.
Yes, it will won’t it Susan? It’s why I love to share my stories with the women I coach. Letting go of what incorrectly defines us, its the key to freedom.
Oh, Shelly. I could just sense the sadness and dread in that frightened young you. I’m so glad you are telling your stories.
Why did nobody ever tell us that nobody’s family was like the Bradys or the Partridges?
I know, right? I grew up for years thinking that was normal. Oh my. And thanks for your encouragement Nancy.
This is beautiful. It is refreshing to hear from someone with real life experience and excuses to be someone other than you sound like you have become. Your daughter is a chance for you to be the mother you didn’t have. God bless you in the journey. As a mother of one daughter and two sons my blogging often shares the life experiences I have with my girl. I pray your relationship will be as fulfilling as ours has been.
Loved your post today and so glad to find you. Appreciate your encouraging comment and hope you’ll come back for a visit.
Shelly, I’ve read your stuff for quite some time, and oh my goodness, can you ever write. Absolutely stunning, what you’ve shared here. I don’t know what it’s like to grow up the child of an alcoholic, but I do know pain, and a sufferer of pain of any kind will certainly relate to and be touched deeply by the way you’ve shared your heart here (as you always do). Blessings and love–
So glad you de-lurked and left a comment. It’s really a pleasure to meet you and I’m humbled by your kind words, thank you. And after reading your post, yes you do know pain, glad to have a sojourner along for the healing.
Just this: “An awakening to the realization that the pages of my life, they are not authored or edited based on my circumstances.” After a trip to the city of my childhood, this is what I needed. Thank you, sweet friend!
I know we share similar histories Christina, so glad you came by, that you met Him here.
Shelly, you words are beautiful. I ached for you having to take care of your alcoholic parent. Years ago when I struggled with this addiction one thing that kept coming up in my heart was a scene like this. I had watched my brother’s kids go through hell because of an alcoholic mom. It scared me to death that one day I would have kids and this would be there memory if I did not surrender the problem completely. Thank you for sharing your journey and reminding me how big our God is! He redeems even the most painful beginnings. And, thanks again for linking up today!
Eileen, I am so thankful for your freedom, for your heart that longed to be whole. That God healed you, set you free to be the mother he created you to be.
I never thought about the honoring thing as being letting go. I never thought it was really allowed. And now, this had made me consider a whole new process, in which I can be free and honoring at the same time. Thank you.
Glad for the epiphany Jen. I had to come to grips with this shortly after I was married. It is hard but honoring our parents is broader than we sometimes think.
Love this post, having grown up with an alcholic father, your words paint the picture that many of us hesitate to share. My father’s alcoholism didn’t define who I am as a person, but it did help shape who I became. I dedicated my life to helping others whose lives have been shattered by drugs and alcohol, first at two rehabs for women and now for the past 16 years at a Mission. Thankful for God’s saving grace! Thankful that as you share, others will find freedom too!
O, Shelly, your words, your story, your awakening moved me to tears … Thank you for sharing.
It shapes…doesn’t define.
there’s freedom there. I feel it.
beautiful write, Shelly. Love and hugs to you!
Yes, my friend. Yes to these truths. Yes and Amen.
I’m nodding my head with you Dea. I know you get this.
Shelly, one of the most beautiful and true posts I have ever read. My Dad was a child of two alcoholics. He is still suffering from abandonment issues and he is 83! You are such a gifted writer and a wonderful parent, I can tell.
Thanks for your kindness Lori. It’s a chronic disability we struggle with as children of alcoholics, this fear of abandonment. I think freedom comes slow and steady as we learn to trust Him and turn our fears over. Trust is a big issue for us.
Gosh this is beauty. Thank you for sharing with us.
Thank you, so glad you stopped by from SheLoves Magazine, its been fun to read others take on Awake.
So glad I found your blog through SheLoves Magazine. This is such an honest, vulnerable post, and so beautifully written. So much truth in that statement that our past, while it shapes us, does not define us. Yes, Yes, Yes. Amen.
Lindsay, so glad you stopped by, what a pleasure to meet you. Love the way these link ups join pilgrims together. Thank you so much for joining the conversation here.
This was so beautiful, and drenched in redemption and hope. Thank you.
Thanks Tanya. I’m planning to reply to your email in a few.