Tough Love

There is no pain like that of a mother who must watch her child hurting.  Especially when her choices and actions are the source of that hurt.  It is instinctual to want to protect and nurture your child.  It is torture when that very instinct, drawn from love, distresses your child.  There are times when we must hold firm against our children, in order to protect and nurture.  We have to fight against the urge to rescue them.  All we want to do is draw them close, hold them tight and make the pain go away.  Instead we must step away, let go of their hand, and let them strain.  It becomes a battle with our child and within ourselves.

Some might think the anger and resentment that builds within the child would make the separation easier.  In fact, it just layers on the ballast compressing your heart.  Every angry word, every moment devoid of affection is like a knotted rope being drawn tighter around your very soul, strangling the joy you once held dear.  You can almost physically feel yourself contracting to the point of being swallowed by the hole that now remains in you.

How do we learn to love from afar?  How do we manage to nurture through barriers?  I think this is what makes it so difficult, perhaps more-so for women.  Love and physical touch are intertwined for us.  Holding a hand, a hug, a pat on the back, even an elbow-poke – it’s what we want to receive.  It’s what we need to give.  When we have to withhold those very things, or when we are denied the chance to give them, we are lost.  We have an abundance of love within us and we watch our child, depleted, sometimes begging for comfort, sometimes shoving us aside, never receiving the love.

We have to trust that we are strong enough to walk away, or watch them walk away, for a while.  We have to trust that someday they will invite that love back into their lives. 

My child weeps and my heart cries.  My child cries and my heart aches.  My child aches and my heart ruptures.  Because of my child I feel elation like being lifted effortlessly into the clouds, bathed in warm sunlight seeing everything as if for the first time.  Because of my child I experience anguish like a dull knife plunged into my very core, turned slowly to allow pain to linger.  I live because of my child.

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