When I was in high school, I struggled to find my own identity. My brothers were athletes, and very good ones. I hated to sweat. I was one of eight and in that large a crowd, you gotta shout form time to time to make yourself heard. My kind of shouting usually manifested in me getting into trouble. This allowed lots of one on one time with the parental units whether that was my intended desire in that moment or not.
me when I say there was some serious crazy. Have you ever gotten your
braces stuck to a cute young boy as you were kissing, only to have his
mother find us, call my father, who showed up with wire cutters? Or did
you steal some make-up from the local drug store, because your father
forbade it, only to get caught by said parent and marched back up to the
store to apologize to the manager? Or maybe you had a white denim
mini-skirt, bought with your own babysitting money even though you were
forbidden to wear it, hiding it in your room then slip out of the house,
wearing it to school for spirit day only to be unprepared when your
cycle starts forcing you to call your mother to come and get you,
thereby revealing said ownership. I mean how did they survive the
embarrassment I caused them, let alone what my other siblings did? Told
you, cray cray people.
wasn’t until my senior year that I found a little circle of friends
that I grew to trust. Once I had peeps, I stood a little taller, wasn’t
so self conscious about my loud laugh or my 5’10’ stature. If they
accepted me, than I must not be that bad.
I think back now and I realize how different things would have been for me if I had made other choices. If I had given into the loneliness and rejection, filling those holes with drugs, alcohol or sex. Even with all the parental humiliation I caused, my parents drew me in instead of pushing me away. They never gave up on me.
They watched as I started the youth group at my home parish with two other teens. I became a volunteer for different events and a lector. I won a scholarship for one year at the local Junior College. I had found my footing and I have no doubt it was due to my parents constant prayers for me to Our Lady. I know because my mother told me so.
After high school graduation my mother took me for lunch one Saturday, just the two of us. A miracle really. Just me and my Mom, alone, no interruptions from little people, and there was pizza! She told me about her continuous prayers over the years, that I would not give up on myself and give into the dark side. She told me of her worry and strife over my choices and how desperate I seemed at times to be loved and acknowledged. She told me how much she and my Dad did love me, and how proud they both were of me and how blessed they were that I was their daughter.
It is a day I will never forget and it was decades ago. I can still smell the pizza and see my mother’s smile. My mother saw me that day. She looked into my heart and knew that I needed to know without a doubt that I was loved and cherished. That I mattered. My Mom had figured out that through all my shenanigans, I was looking for love in all the wrong places.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
I was finally in a place that I could hear what my mother had to say and to accept that love. She had been saying and showing it all along but I wasn’t ready to humble myself enough to listen. I have no doubt it was hers and my fathers prayers that softened my heart.
I find that I still struggle from time to time with this old temptation to “make people take notice”. I think I will always have that with me. It’s just a part of who I am.
I have a need to be seen. To be loved and accepted for who I truly am. I wasted so much time on pretending, so no one will see the truth that I see in the mirror. The physical imperfections, the eyes that have lost their smile and a heart that is broken.
It‘s in those darkest moments that I look to Mother Mary for the confidence I am lacking. One of my favorite prayers is the Memorare. The line always gets me “Never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help,
or sought thine intercession was left unaided.”
She is there waiting for me each and every time. Waiting to hold my hand and listen to my needs whether they be silly or serious. Mother Mary stands by, arms waiting to hold whomever calls her name.
Pray with me won’t you;
Dearest Mother Mary,
I fly to thee my Mother with a heart filled with pain and hurt. I ask that you kneel with me as I ask for your Son’s help and guidance. I am confused. I am scared. I am reaching for understanding in the midst of chaos. Help me Mother Mary to rely on your Son trusting that he will not harm me but help lift me up from my agony. I implore your intersession, sweet Mother, on my behalf. May my prayer be answered and my needs met swiftly, allowing the pain to end and the hurt to heal.
We ask this in the name of your son Jesus,
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