Something I knew going into this next step was that God was giving my mom and I time to have some reconciliation and healing in our relationship. Yes, I decided to move home to get the best training for soccer, but this is clearly not just about me, as it never is because God weaves things together in ways that we can’t even comprehend. I haven’t been home outside of the occasional breaks for 6 years. During those 6 years, my brother moved home after graduating college and bounced around a bit from job to job and my dad’s disease continued to get worse until he passed away March of 2015, my sophomore year at TCU. Its not that my mom and I’s relationship is on poor terms but rather it hasn’t been nurtured or tended to quite as much as it needs to be. Let me explain a bit more.
My dad was diagnosed with a rare form of myositis when I was 8. This meant that gradually he would lose muscle mass and function in his limbs. Though it was a blessing that the disease progressed slowly, it was also agonizing because when a major ability was lost, it hit hard. The rough transitions included walking to being confined to a motor scooter, working from home to not working at all, and maybe the worst, being able to feed himself to having a feeding tube put in because it was too dangerous for him to swallow food. My dad endured it in a way that didn’t let on to my brother and I, at least, just how much he was suffering. I hardly ever remember hearing him complain or talk about how awful it was or how angry he was at times. To my young and immature mind, I thought less about how all this was so tough on my dad and more about the things I had to give up or adjust to because of it. There was an anger building inside of me that I kept under wraps because I was the “good kid.” My brother acted out in his own rebellious ways because he was in his teen years and didn’t know how to deal with my dad being disabled. He and my dad did everything together, and that all changed with the progression of the disease. I saw my brother’s outward rebellion causing my parents even more grief on top of the struggles with my dad’s disease. My mom became his caretaker while just starting her second career as a teacher. It was safe to say that she was already overwhelmed with teaching and taking care of my dad, let alone trying to lovingly handle my brother. So I reacted in the opposite extreme. I internalized everything and covered up my feelings with the “everything will be okay” front. I was determined not to take any of my mom’s time away from caring for my dad. I judged my brother for how he acted, so I wasn’t going to confide anything in him. And as far as my dad, I didn’t know how to navigate our relationship with the disease. I was scared and angry and just knew that my dad wasn’t like my friend’s dads. My family was different. We had to do things differently to accommodate the disabilities the disease left my dad with. Because of all this, it was easier for me to slip into the shadows. I learned quickly how to take care of myself and go about my own business. I knew I was good at soccer and school so that’s what I put all my time and energy into, determined not to be dependent or reliant on anyone for help. After seeing how helpless and dependent my dad became, nothing he could control of course. I wanted nothing to do with it. I had my fierce willpower and motivation and that’s all I needed.
Thus, as I grew up and entered my high school years, I was good at being independent. Too good. My mom and I were still close. We did movie nights on Fridays and hung out but the intimacy in our relationship was lacking. We missed out on most of the mother daughter experiences, and before we both knew it, I was off to Texas. The truth is, though, this wasn’t the only relationship in my life where intimacy was lacking. I didn’t have deep rootedness in any of my relationships. I hadn’t busted the surface on deep, raw feelings and emotions with anyone. I had great relationships with childhood friends and teammates, but I always had walls up, was always on my guard about letting too much slip. Intimacy with people meant not only did I have to let people in, but I had to let them in knowing I couldn’t control them. Everything in my life was under my control, and I spent a lot of time making sure that was so because my dad’s disease was something I could not control; all I could see was how it wreaked havoc on my family. Thus, not being in control was a bad thing. There was definitely more intimacy in me and my mom’s relationship than most others I had, but it was still very little.
I realized that it had taken most of my time at TCU and in Fort Worth for me to build authentic, deep and loving relationships. Again, I had great relationships with teammates and roommates, each at differing levels of depth and intimacy. It would be a great disservice and offense to the people I was close with and am close with still to not acknowledge this. But there were greater depths to be had. And I think if you asked them, they would say it always took some prodding to get information out of me.
To take the risk of being vulnerable and transparent and feeling safe doing so, knowing I am sealed in love, was something I was very careful with. This past year, starting last fall really, God has softened my heart and eased the fear of intimacy in relationship. And what’s most important, created greater intimacy in my relationship with Him. There can be no true depth in any other relationship with another human being if there isn’t depth in my relationship with Him. This hit me hard. Though it still freaks me out to be real about feelings and to let the walls down knowing I can’t control others, I see the immense fruit in it and have experienced the amazing joy it brings. So this is part of my errand being home for however long I am. There are greater depths to be had in my relationship with my mom, and we have had some raw and transparent conversations long overdue. It has been so enlightening and refreshing. I thank the Lord for His incredible wisdom and guidance in all of it and strive to trust in His will with breathless expectation.