Then, suddenly, it all just starts to make sense in a way that it didn't before. The issues you've wrestled with in your mind settle. Weight lifts.
There is really no other way to explain it. Clarity is the best word I can think of.
It's been seven months now since my mother passed, much longer than that since she really left, and there is so much about the turmoil we experienced that I can understand now. Ways that she prepared me and equipped me to better deal with what the world would throw at me, even if she never intended for that to occur.
These lessons, they weren't intentional ones. No.
I'm certain that none of it was intentional. At the time, it was just a part of the chaos in the moment. Looking back now, I understand more of it in some ways. In other ways, I know that there are parts of it all that will never make sense. The finality and abruptness of death, though, forces me to accept every piece, the ones I understand and the ones I don't because there is no more time remaining to change the course of history. Death ensures it.
These lessons, they weren't intentional. She didn't mean to be teaching me anything. She, I'm sure, was so caught up in what was happening, not understanding it all herself, lashing out at the people who were actually trying to help her, relying on those who took advantage, making everything worse in the process for everyone. There was no element of intention involved. No.
Regardless of motive or cause, I learned from those times.
They were the studies in life experience handed down after what transpired between us, with her, with me. They were the tomes of knowledge that my brain was methodically sorting and storing for future use, shelving in the deepest recesses of my mind for safe keeping until the day that I would discover them.
Bit by bit, I am finding these books stored in the recesses. I am opening them up and thumbing through them and seeing the world in an entirely different light with each page revealed. It's true, oh is it true, that death is the great equalizer.
She taught me to be on the lookout for those who would take advantage.
She taught me to trust my intuition.
She taught me to question motivations.
She taught me that when people appear to change, words aren't enough.
She taught me that words can be used to manipulate.
She taught me to protect myself.
She taught me to shield my children.
She taught me that my value doesn't come from how others perceive me.
She taught me to trust my own heart.
Some of those lessons may have, at one point or another, been intentional ones on her part, though doubtfully in the past few years. The past few years for her weren't about me or anyone else. They were about her. It was always about her.
Understanding that what someone else does, how they react, what they think and feel and act, almost always has nothing to do with us is hard, particularly when we have often been the recipient of collateral damage. Accepting that the damage inflicted upon us wasn't intentional, is hard too. She didn't seek out to hurt me, it was just a natural consequence of everything else.
But I learned. I learned so much, and those lessons will be with me for the rest of my life. Some of them are lessons my children learned along with me, others that I will share with them as they get older.
The pain fades. The lessons stick.
It is easier on this side.
I can see the wisdom without being forced to wade through the shit.
It is a beautiful thing.