That title sounds like it came from a Jerry Springer show, doesn’t it? As much as I wish that was the case, I’m afraid it’s very real. It happened. 28 years ago. And it’s on my mind today. It’s been bubbling up for a while now. I knew the day was coming when this festering inner demon would rear its hideously ugly head. Today is that day. I have to say I’m not happy about it. I didn’t really plan on dealing with this today but I guess God had other plans. I must be ready. I also need to tell you that I’m scared right now. I don’t know what I am afraid of, but I definitely am feeling fear. Maybe I’m afraid of opening up a can of worms that I buried long ago. Maybe I’m afraid that I won’t survive the feelings that I feel when I tell this story — that I’ll wind up back in my bed with the covers over my head wishing I would just die. Maybe I’m just afraid of the vulnerability of telling you all the story of one of the most horrendously painful experiences of my life. This is a big one. Even as I sit here writing my hands are shaking, tears are flowing and I feel like I might have to throw up. (Don’t worry, I won’t tell you if I do). Even so, I feel like I need to tell this story today. Before I go any further, I’m going to stop and pray for strength and courage and healing right now. I know I’m going to need it. Be back with you all in a minute.
*Pause for prayer* (feel free to join me)
I was reading my Bible this morning and came to this passage in Matthew:
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:14-15
I closed my eyes and meditated on it a while. Forgiveness is something I know a lot about. I’ve had to do it so much in my life that I’ve turned it into an art form. But that’s a post for a different day. As I was meditating about forgiveness I was thinking about my mom, and the memory of holding her hand as she lay dying a year and a half ago and telling her I forgave her for what she did. It was the first time she heard me utter those words. I guess maybe she knew it on some level, because I did still answer the phone when she called (sometimes) and we had cordial conversation. But I never told her until the very end. What I didn’t tell her is that my forgiveness didn’t mean I condone what she did, or that I was over the pain. I am not, and I don’t know if I ever will be completely. Anyway, enough stalling. Time to let this demon out. Time to tell the tale of a mother’s ultimate betrayal…
My first husband was an alcoholic. My marriage was hard. I had confided in my mother many times about our troubles, and sat with her on multiple occasions holding hands and praying for my marriage. My mother knew I was not happy in my marriage but I was trying to make it work for the two kids we had and the one on the way.
My mom lived alone, she and my dad divorced when I was 5. She spent lot of time at my house visiting the grandkids and just hanging out. One night when I was 8 months pregnant my mom was over at my house. I was tired and went to bed early. I woke up several hours later to a very strange whining sound coming from the living room.It sounded like a stray cat or a raccoon or something had gotten in the house. I looked over to see if my husband was in bed yet so I could send him out to investigate. He wasn’t. I got out of bed and walked into the living room and what I saw next is permanently engraved in my mind. My mother– naked– on top of my husband –also naked.– having sex on my couch.
It’s hard to put into words what I was feeling at that moment. It felt like a giant bowling ball was hurled into my chest. It knocked the wind out me. I fell against the wall. I couldn’t breathe. I dry heaved. My legs turned to rubber. I couldn’t stand up. I slid down the wall and sat on the floor. I dry heaved some more. I couldn’t process what I had just seen. I was confused. It must have been a mistake. My mother would never do that to me. I looked up again and saw my mother standing up next to the couch struggling to put her clothes on. My husband was still naked on the couch. He didn’t care. He was drunk as always.
I looked at my mother with tears and horror welling up in my eyes. I opened my mouth but I couldn’t speak. I didn’t even know what to say if I could. I just looked at her, silently. And then she spoke. I thought maybe she was about to apologize. I wasn’t sure how I would respond. I still wasn’t really sure I even saw what I saw. It all seemed so surreal. Once my mother spoke, though, it became more real. She looked right at me and said “I couldn’t help it. I had a beer and I was drunk. I haven’t been with a man in 15 years. Besides, I knew you didn’t want him anymore so I didn’t see the harm in it”. Bam. Bowling ball again. I was expecting her to say something like “Oh Lori I am so sorry. I did an awful thing and I am so ashamed. Can you ever forgive me?” But no. What I got was excuses, and her so-called justification for her betrayal. And then she walked out the door to go home.
I went to the bathroom and took a long hot bath. I tried to scrub the awfulness away but it stuck to me like glue. No, like tar. Eventually I went back to bed and managed to fall asleep. My husband never apologized either.I didn’t expect him too. This wasn’t the first time he cheated on me. He never apologized before. But my mother, that was different. This was the same woman that used to stroke my face and sing Jesus Loves Me every night when she tucked me in. This was the same woman that painted on eggshells and broke them into little pieces so we could make art together with them. This was the same woman that taught me to cook and to sew on a button. This was the same woman that my kids adored as their grandma. This was the one person on earth I was supposed to be able to trust above all others. And she betrayed me.
Needless to say my relationship with my mother was never the same after that. I will tell you more about this another time but the road back to any relationship at all was a rocky one. I stayed married to my husband for almost another year but I just couldn’t make it work. There was too much damage and his alcoholism got much worse and made my life, and our kids lives, a living hell. Again, more stories for another day. When I finally left my husband, my mother was right there to pick up the pieces. Oh – did you think I meant my pieces? That’s understandable. Those are the pieces you’d expect a mother to pick up after a divorce. But, nope. I meant his pieces. She let him move in with her and eventually they got married. Yes, you read that right. My mother married my ex husband. I won’t go any further with that story yet because it would simply take too much time. But all of this gives you a glimpse of what you can expect to read if you keep following my blog.
So now, cut back to the scene where I’m holding my mother’s hand as she’s dying, telling her I forgave her. I told her the truth. I forgave her long ago. But I guess I haven’t completely let go because the thought of all this creates such an extreme emotional response in me still. It’s intensely painful. Is that forgiveness? I don’t know. I think it is, to the degree that I am able. Now I just need God to go in and heal the deep wounds that still fester. Writing this post is the first step toward that. It’s already starting. I don’t feel nauseous or tearful or shaky or scared anymore. I feel relieved. Just a little bit.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. -Isaiah 53:5