Lately, I've been thinking, wanting, to ask my son a question or two. He doesn't have time to write here because he's so busy with his job and just LIFE. But part of my goal in starting this blog "with" him was so he could give perspective from the "other side"–the estranged children. That was one of the things that was so hard being separated from him–I couldn't even ask him what he was feeling. And I wanted to know because I truly cared! So in wanting to help other mothers understand how their estranged children may be feeling, I've wanted to ask him to go back in his memory and explore his own feelings from that painful time.
First, I'd ask some simple questions...
What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently?
The thing is, I already know...I think...some of his answers.
Yesterday, as I watched Dr. Phil and two mothers on his segment, "Is This a Cult," I remembered some of my own feelings from back then. Mainly, FRUSTRATION. I could sense that very much within Leisa, whose daughter, Ashley, has chosen to live with a reclusive man known as Golden Elk (Clemente Suriano). Subsequently, Ashley has cut off all ties with her family. So has Elon, who last saw his mother, Iris, in 2007.
During the program, each mother had the opportunity to see or at least speak with their child. Leisa and her 27-year-old daughter, Chelsea (twin sister to Ashley), managed to see Ashley, thanks to a surprise meeting set up by Dr. Phil's staff. Both Leisa and Chelsea were calm, controlled and reassuring. Neither tried to persuade or beg Ashley to leave Suriano. Before parting, they told Ashley that they loved her. Inside, though, I just KNEW Leisa longed to grab her daughter and HUG HUG HUG her! But she kept her composure throughout the encounter. So did Chelsea.
Not Iris. While attempting to contact Suriano at his home, Iris yelled and kicked at the door when the woman inside politely told them to leave. Later, she also grew impatient on the phone with Elon and even hung up on him.
I completely understand both reactions. I felt both ways. I remember being cool, calm, so in control of myself when my son came by to pick up his sister. I'd go outside to try and talk to him. He'd ignore me. I'd smile, go back inside the house, then bawl. Other times, I tried to force a conversation with him, like the afternoon I sat in his pickup and wouldn't get out. Then there was the time that I drove to my son's home and told his father that my son NEEDED to see his mother and that he should back me up. No go. A demanding attitude, I quickly learned, rarely gets you anywhere.
Finally, after more than two years, I accepted that I just had to let go and let time heal our hearts. And it did. But until that happens, I well understand the pain and frustration a mother feels when she's separated from her child. Because there's just something in a mother's heart that yearns to know that child, to be a part of his/her life, to protect, nurture and guide. Even a teenager (and beyond)!
So, please, forgive us when we kick a door, yell on the phone or make demands. Sometimes we frustrated mothers just have to let our dammed up feelings OUT and do something! But believe me when I say THAT'S LOVE MISBEHAVING. If our hearts were empty, we simply wouldn't care. We wouldn't have the need to be composed or frustrated.
I still want to hear my son's thoughts... When I get up the nerve, I'm going to ask him....